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Thread: I finally got it!

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    Default I finally got it!

    After trying to hit altissimo for over two years, I've finally figured it out! (besides the awkward fingering for G above the staff I knew).
    I've been trying numerous fingerings and embouchures forever and tonight I don't know what happened: I tried something different and altissimo A came out! I was so excited, I didn't try to find my altissimo chart, so I printed out another one and was able to hit every note up to C4!

    It's hard to explain, but to hit the notes, I had to curl my entire lip over my bottom teeth and kind of squeeze my air and breathe up. I hope you understand that.

    This was definitely a turning point in my musical career: It was such a high and I am so encouraged to practice a lot before school starts more than ever.

    I'd just thought I'd like to share because a lot of you have tried to help me with my altissimo woes.
    It's only cool until Kenny G does it.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Atta girl. It happened to me the same way. The ground shook, a crevice broke open and I was immersed in a golden fog.
    All the other notes became suddenly more accessible.


    I still have problems with G on tenor though.
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    Distinguished SOTW Member kavala's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Hearing the notes in your inner ear before you hit them is the secret.

    You could try to play an arpeggio on F major from the bottom of
    the horn up to F4 and back. (CFACFACFACF and down)

    G on tenor is always a rough sounding note. That's what is beautiful
    about it.
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    I remember when I just "got it". I'd been told the secret was to saying "eeee" in your mouth. I keep doing that, and thinking about the position my tongue went into. After trying, eventually one popped out. I tried to recreate it, and after a few I got it. After an hour, I could get most of them out 100% of the time, it just clicked

  5. #5

    Default Re: I finally got it!

    And the famous fingering is....

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    A3 can be that first, real, magic note. Once you get it, it's rather easy to go up a bit, but will take work to go down. Forcing yourself not to use the F# key (if you have one) might help in this regard.

  7. #7

    Default Re: I finally got it!

    I can't even correctly play the palm keys on my bari .....

    But congratulations anyway!
    Bartonsax

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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumps View Post
    A3 can be that first, real, magic note. Once you get it, it's rather easy to go up a bit, but will take work to go down. Forcing yourself not to use the F# key (if you have one) might help in this regard.
    I believe the altissimo fingering chart I used doesn't even use the F# key. I could see it being a hindrance in alternating between these notes fluently anyways...
    It's only cool until Kenny G does it.

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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Don't be scared if it suddenly goes away a day or so at a time.

    After about 8 months every day out of the top tones book I finally could get into the altissimo but some days it would just disappear. Within another 6 months that stopped completely.

    Right at this stage I'd say play whichever altissimo notes you can as much as possible. Keep playing the same note over and over. Starting from no sound at all. Just like you'd start any other note. It'll keep you consistent.
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    Distinguished SOTW Member ratracer's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by bluesaxgirl View Post
    After trying to hit altissimo for over two years, I've finally figured it out! (besides the awkward fingering for G above the staff I knew).
    I've been trying numerous fingerings and embouchures forever and tonight I don't know what happened: I tried something different and altissimo A came out! I was so excited, I didn't try to find my altissimo chart, so I printed out another one and was able to hit every note up to C4!

    It's hard to explain, but to hit the notes, I had to curl my entire lip over my bottom teeth and kind of squeeze my air and breathe up. I hope you understand that.

    This was definitely a turning point in my musical career: It was such a high and I am so encouraged to practice a lot before school starts more than ever.

    I'd just thought I'd like to share because a lot of you have tried to help me with my altissimo woes.
    Good on ya BSG! Congrats! Now, send out the secret to the rest of us!

    I'm kinda with bartonsax, my LH palm keys are not as fluid as I'd like them to be as well much less the altissimo. Been doinking around with altissimo but no luck over the last 6-9 months. Need to get a bit more focused though on my part.

    Interesting that you had to curl your lip over your teeth. That seems to fly in the face of most of the opinions that I've read. I curl my lip though consciously try to keep my embouchure "relaxed". Been working on not curling the lip in hopes my overtones and altissimo would pop out but not happening yet. Tongue position too. Just gotta keep at though.

    Thanks for sharing! Cheers!! And have a ice cold root beer on the rest of us!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by ratracer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bluesaxgirl View Post
    After trying to hit altissimo for over two years, I've finally figured it out! (besides the awkward fingering for G above the staff I knew).
    I've been trying numerous fingerings and embouchures forever and tonight I don't know what happened: I tried something different and altissimo A came out! I was so excited, I didn't try to find my altissimo chart, so I printed out another one and was able to hit every note up to C4!

    It's hard to explain, but to hit the notes, I had to curl my entire lip over my bottom teeth and kind of squeeze my air and breathe up. I hope you understand that.

    This was definitely a turning point in my musical career: It was such a high and I am so encouraged to practice a lot before school starts more than ever.

    I'd just thought I'd like to share because a lot of you have tried to help me with my altissimo woes.


    Interesting that you had to curl your lip over your teeth. That seems to fly in the face of most of the opinions that I've read.
    Yes, and way over at that. My bottom lip is still sore and has an indenture from how much I squawked altissimo out last night.
    It's only cool until Kenny G does it.

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member DanPerezSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    I bet you'll get a better tone out with more consistent altissimo if you stop curling that lip in, and work a little more on breath support and tongue position. What you said about blowing up is right on. That's the kind of visualization you gotta mess around with. I know I'm being kind of a wet blanket here cuz you're so excited. You DID take a big step, it's just that you'll eventually injure your lip and sound worse playing like you're playing.

    The reason I say to develop the airspeed is that when you curl the lip in, you basically stifle the reed. When you prevent a large portion of the reed from vibrating, what's left naturally wants to go faster, given the same speed and volume of air. You'll get the same result from the reed without biting or curling the lip if you increase the airspeed and control your throat and tongue position a little better, thereby learning to direct your faster air flow more effectively. This is why the Top Tones book is so widely used to teach good tone throughout the range: the kind of control I'm talking about will help your sound all over.

  13. #13

    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by ratracer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bluesaxgirl View Post
    After trying to hit altissimo for over two years, I've finally figured it out! (besides the awkward fingering for G above the staff I knew).
    I've been trying numerous fingerings and embouchures forever and tonight I don't know what happened: I tried something different and altissimo A came out! I was so excited, I didn't try to find my altissimo chart, so I printed out another one and was able to hit every note up to C4!

    It's hard to explain, but to hit the notes, I had to curl my entire lip over my bottom teeth and kind of squeeze my air and breathe up. I hope you understand that.

    This was definitely a turning point in my musical career: It was such a high and I am so encouraged to practice a lot before school starts more than ever.

    I'd just thought I'd like to share because a lot of you have tried to help me with my altissimo woes.
    Good on ya BSG! Congrats! Now, send out the secret to the rest of us!

    I'm kinda with bartonsax, my LH palm keys are not as fluid as I'd like them to be as well much less the altissimo. Been doinking around with altissimo but no luck over the last 6-9 months. Need to get a bit more focused though on my part.

    Interesting that you had to curl your lip over your teeth. That seems to fly in the face of most of the opinions that I've read. I curl my lip though consciously try to keep my embouchure "relaxed". Been working on not curling the lip in hopes my overtones and altissimo would pop out but not happening yet. Tongue position too. Just gotta keep at though.

    Thanks for sharing! Cheers!! And have a ice cold root beer on the rest of us!

    Well actually my palm key problems are not because of a problem with my playing or my horn. My selmer SA80II bari has been looked at and adjusted by Emilio and played on and Ok'd by Gary Smulyan. But, I'm able to play every other horn I try perfectly so I'm going with the idea of me just not being compatible with the horn. Thinking of possibly selling it soon. Anyone interested in a black series II bari?
    Bartonsax

  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician Grumps's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by bluesaxgirl View Post
    I believe the altissimo fingering chart I used doesn't even use the F# key. I could see it being a hindrance in alternating between these notes fluently anyways...
    What I'm saying, is don't use the F# key to play F#3. Use octave, front F, right hand 1 (F) key and side Bb, then blow like you've learned to blow to get the A. Then all you gotta do to get G3 from there is to release the right hand 1 (F) key. For G#3, then add side C, and you're on your way.

  15. #15

    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by bluesaxgirl View Post
    Yes, and way over at that. My bottom lip is still sore and has an indenture from how much I squawked altissimo out last night.
    Wouldn't that be biting? I always thought biting was recommended against. If I "bite" I could squawk out G7 (4th G on sax) if I wanted but it would sound more like an extremely out of tune chirping sound.... not desirable at all.... and it hurts like hell.. If I do my normal embouchure I can barely get G#6 at times.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Atta girl. It happened to me the same way. The ground shook, a crevice broke open and I was immersed in a golden fog.
    All the other notes became suddenly more accessible.


    I still have problems with G on tenor though.
    I just got a really strange visual on 'golden fog'.

    Dan's advice is right on. Yer tryin' too hard!--it's not like your a trumpet player!

    Glad you got your first 'A'...
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by DanPerezSax View Post
    I bet you'll get a better tone out with more consistent altissimo if you stop curling that lip in, and work a little more on breath support and tongue position. What you said about blowing up is right on. That's the kind of visualization you gotta mess around with. I know I'm being kind of a wet blanket here cuz you're so excited. You DID take a big step, it's just that you'll eventually injure your lip and sound worse playing like you're playing.

    The reason I say to develop the airspeed is that when you curl the lip in, you basically stifle the reed. When you prevent a large portion of the reed from vibrating, what's left naturally wants to go faster, given the same speed and volume of air. You'll get the same result from the reed without biting or curling the lip if you increase the airspeed and control your throat and tongue position a little better, thereby learning to direct your faster air flow more effectively. This is why the Top Tones book is so widely used to teach good tone throughout the range: the kind of control I'm talking about will help your sound all over.
    Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely work on the air stream and relaxing more. I had to put paper towels in my mouth to practice today because my lip hurt so much. My sax teacher told me to lay off the sax practice for a day or two.
    It's only cool until Kenny G does it.

  18. #18
    Distinguished SOTW Member DanPerezSax's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Yeah, take a break and go back to the drawing board. Having gotten the altissimo out at all, even wrong can make a significant change in your mindset. At some level, until you get it out, there's always the little subconscious idea that it's in fact impossible for you, on your horn, with your setup, etc. You'll approach it from a more healthy perspective now. If you've got a teacher, I'm sure you're already hearing all the right stuff. Just keep plugging away!

  19. #19
    Distinguished SOTW Member stormott77's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    That is exactly how my altissimo started, with a sore lip. Now my lip is fine because I use my airstream to get it out now. Its all about speeding the air up the higher you go just like you do with your overtones. On the low Bb my tounge sits away from the roof of my mouth and by the time I get up to altissimo Bb my tounge is almost touching my soft palate. My embouchure is still very loose and on a good day I can go much higher than an altissimo Bb using my low Bb fingering. the overtone series really helps you to understand tounge voicings. Phil Barone's sticky on tone production where you start on a F2 using the F1 fingering and then you slide down to the F1 is a great way to get you in tune with your tounge as well. Good job. your first altissimo A is something to be pround of for sure.
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    Distinguished SOTW Member Dr G's Avatar
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    Default Re: I finally got it!

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    I still have problems with G on tenor though.
    Sorry, Gary, tenor is what I prefer to play.
    Go for The Tone,

    g



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