Soprano Palm Keys

Soprano saxophonists often ask me for advice on getting the high palm key notes on the soprano. The obvious answer is, of course, practice, but there are a couple of "tricks" that helped me gain more consistent response in that range when I was new to the soprano. First of all, remember that a mf or f on a soprano high note is in most cases plenty loud, even if the composer's marking is ff. In other words, the high notes sound louder than you think, so underplay the dynamics in that range. Don't overblow and you are more likely to successfully hit those high Fs in the Desenclos quartet's second movement! My second word of advice is air support. If you think of attacking the high notes on the soprano with a little extra burst of air and a light tongue rather than with a hard tongue, you will probably also have more success attacking high Es and Fs on the soprano. One last word of caution: don't teach yourself to do "strange" things to get the high (or the low) notes on any of the saxophones. You really just need to make sure you have good air support, and don't let your embouchure become pinched. You should be playing with good air support and a relaxed, but supported embouchure in all ranges. Happy practicing! —Susan Fancher

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