If you’re serious about saxophone technique, and willing to question much of what you think you already know, study John Harle’s brilliant new book. The really significant chapters are taking me 2-3 weeks to get my head (and the rest of my upper body) around, so it’s value for money. Chapter 1 alone has made playing more comfortable, power breathing more natural; it’s improved my stamina, tone and intonation, thus allowing me to concentrate on the wider issues of expressive performance.
This book is not a set of ‘quick fixes’, so you have to persevere with each chapter, until the detailed instruction, copious diagrams and carefully selected exercises finally sink into your greater understanding of how lips, tongue, throat, lungs and head resonance work together. Your existing technique has to be challenged, changes made consciously and then, after sufficient practice, your improved technique will become intuitive.
Jazz and pop saxophonists may find themselves sounding a bit ‘classical’ at first, but once these techniques are fully embodied, they can be adapted to any style of playing. One caveat, however: several exercises are best suited to alto and soprano saxophone (Harle’s preferred instruments), so adaptation will be required by tenor, baritone, bass and sopranino players, specifically over issues of head resonance and the relationship of saxophone registers to the singing voice. This may seem a deterrent for some of you at first, but Harle’s philosophy is all about understanding how YOUR body works when playing, so self-analysis is essential to players of all saxophones, under Harle’s expert guidance.
Here’s a page from volume 1 (© 2017 Faber Music Ltd):