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 Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: Evans 
Date:   2011-05-10 19:25

Lately I've started playing the Soprano Saxophone. I've been playing the Bb Clarinet for a couple of years now though. I just can't seem to get the embochure right on the Soprano, any tips?

Evan B. Stanfill
1971 Noblet 45
Vandoran V360 Mouthpiece

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: rcnelson 
Date:   2011-05-10 20:18

The soprano saxophone is just that....a saxophone. Saxophone and clarinet embouchures are quite different. With the clarinet, you usually have the corners of the mouth pulled out to each side. With the saxes, the embouchure is much more round. Check out any saxophone method book or online resource that talks about embouchure.

Selmer Mark VI tenor (1957), Selmer Mark VII alto (1975)
Buescher True Tone soprano (1924), Selmer CL210 Bb Clarinet, Gemeinhardt 3SHB Flute, Pearl PFP105 Piccolo

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: Bret Pimentel 
Date:   2011-05-12 22:06

Clarinetists are likely to "voice" the saxophone (even soprano) too high at first. Try playing on the mouthpiece alone, and warm up your airstream until the pitch drops to concert C (soprano D). Then use that same type of airstream with the mouthpiece on the instrument.

Good luck!

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: Merlin_Williams 
Date:   2011-05-18 14:26

Soprano is usually the least troublesome sax for a clarinetist. Get the horn angled out for starters. Clarinet players tend to sound too tight on the lower saxes. Relaxation is what will get you a good saxophone sound.

Jupiter Canada Artist/Clinician
Stratford Shakespeare Festival musician
Woodwind Doubling Channel Creator on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/WoodwindDoubling

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: Carol Dutcher 
Date:   2011-07-17 05:35

I thought the soprano sax would be very easy for me to play. It wasn't. I can do pretty well on the alto sax though.

I used clarinet reeds on the soprano sax which worked quite well. I had sop sax reeds, but found the clarinet reeds to be better.

I finally sold the soprano, and am sticking with the alto. I recently got a tenor sax but haven't really worked that hard on it.

Just a little useless informatio for you. Today I put a soprano sax reed on the clarinet and voila! Worked like a charm.


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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: Joseph Tomasso 
Date:   2011-11-26 14:51

I use a very similar embouchure for both. I would not play with my corners pulled apart on either instrument, but rather focus on keeping my chin flatter for the clarinet than the saxophone.

Use a lot of round support on saxophone, just as you would for the clarinet but don't work quite as hard with flattening the lower half of the embouchure.

The main thing is the voicing that Bret mentioned. He has excellent advice. One thing I learned form Professor Richtmeyer UIUC (who studied saxophone with Hemke and clarinet with Larry Combs) was to spend a little time each day with a tuner on each instrument checking octaves.

For example: the low/middle/high C on soprano should all be spot on in pitch if you slur them using the right voicing/tongue position. For me (and this is because of my jaw position and my tongue and my air) I have to think about spreading the back of my tongue more on saxophone. You may find something completely different to work for you, but if you use the tuner you'll not only hear the results, but you'll see them!

Trust your ear and don't be afraid to record yourself. Don't forget to practice either :)

Personally, I find the voicing/tongue position to be more similar between oboe and soprano saxophone, so maybe take a few oboe lessons :) :) :)

Bachelor of Music, Sax/Clarinet Performance (2005, 06)
Master of Music, Multiple Woodwind Performance (2008)
Master of Music, Oboe Performance (2013)
Gainesville Chamber Orchestra (Clarinet)
University of Florida 2010-2011(Visiting Lecturer in Woodwi

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2011-12-05 12:21

I'd say study with a reputable sax player, and get good equipment. I like vandoren mouthpieces and hemke reeds. And listen, listen, listen. Getting a concept of the instruments is 90% the battle.

Alto Sax players - Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderley, Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn, Eric Marienthal, listen to big bands like Count Basie band, oe Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis who have great alto players.

Good luck

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: LesleyM 
Date:   2012-06-20 13:28

I also decided to double on the soprano and found it reasonably painless. I did find the "back pressure" quite tricky at first and would end up breathless quite quickly but as I have played more I now find it quite easy to play. the Embouchure is quite different though. Quite loose and the horn is best when held further away from my body. I find it easiest to play standing up as well.

Keep persevering. it is worth it.


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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: Wes 
Date:   2012-06-22 05:21

Well, after many years of playing both, I don't feel much difference in the embouchures. One must provide high pressure air to the instruments, most importantly. Good equipment is needed for both.

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 Re: Bb Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2012-06-22 14:58

I think the traditional clarinet embouchure is tighter and more rigid. The sax embouchure is flexible and loose. I play with a looser clarinet embouchure, because if I played with a tight embouchure my flute playing would suffer in tone. I make up for it with good equipment, which includes a shorter barrel.

Drew S.

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