Sound production

Practice ideas for developing a free and efficient tone.


Saxophone Sound Basics

Right on. Joe would have you blow though the horn without making a tone, then apply just enough pressure to make the horn speak…no more, then play a scale or phrase, relaxed. Then release the pressure so that the horn stops playing the tone and pull the horn from your mouth. Bottom lip is flat like the lower teeth, top lip comes down on the sides. But as he would say, it’s OK to have air leak around the corners of your mouth. That is preferred to tightening up and curving up the sides of the reed so that it is no longer flat, pinching off the full sound. I still practice my overtones this way to this day when I catch myself going into bad habits. I am going to try your take on this too David. Love your sound, whatever mouthpiece I’ve heard you on.
Alan Klingaman


Hi Dave, thanks for accepting me here. I’d just like to say how informative your video on sound production is, I have all my students watch it. As players we don’t often think of how we do something, in the process of practise we may stumble upon a good sound and say ‘hey, that sound’s good – I’ll keep doing that’ without thought of how we might have come across it. However, as teachers, we are often placed in the situation to ask ourselves exactly how we do do it through a student’s inquiry. Sound production is one such area, how to sub-tone, how to increase the breadth of sound, or how to produce overtones. On the web there are a plethora of videos on how to improve one’s sound, but I find the majority either misinformed of totally vague. It can be like completing a PhD by using Wikipedia as your only source of information! I thank you very much for the video and have incorporated the method into my teaching practice with great success, I also sometimes ask them to sing the melody they are attempting to learn through the horn, fingering the notes but not producing the sound. I find this can help them pitch the notes before they play them. Thanks again and I hope we can stay in touch.

Doug Woodcock


  1. Hi David,

    thank you for the challenge.

    I listened to your soundclip at the website of Aaron Drake and I love it!

  2. David,

    Great to catch up with your thoughts and ideas via vimeo. Please keep it up; you look well. Do you have a painted portrait stored in an attic somewhere that is getting old?

    1. Just a duck that I keep stepping on. “Oops, I stepped on a duck” Makes you younger every time you giggle.

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