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Thread: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

  1. #1
    dwshell's Avatar
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    Question A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Hey all,

    I wanted to ask your opinion on what type of mouthpiece a beginner student should be playing on. Ideally, this mouthpiece should be easy to play on, and allow the student to develop an appropriate embouchure.

    I've had a few students come in with Selmer C*s, but nearly all of them have issues playing on them. Either they puff their cheeks, tongue too hard, or can't make a sound at all! A few band directors in my area even require beginners to pick up a C*. Starting to play an instrument is already too expensive for most, is a $200 mouthpiece really the right thing to ask of them?

    In my experience, a Premiere by J&D Hite work very well for beginning/intermediate students. Yamaha 4Cs also work wonders for beginners, in my opinion.

    Please share your experiences!
    “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops.”
    - Henry Brooks Adams

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  3. #3

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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Man,... you just hit the ones I was gonna say. Hite Premier and the 4C.

  4. #4

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Like those before me - I'd say the Yamaha 4C is a GREAT choice.

  5. #5

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Yes, ditch the C* (not literally) and recommend Hite Premiere.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Quote Originally Posted by saxmusicguy View Post
    Yes, ditch the C* (not literally) and recommend Hite Premiere.
    Oh I didn't see the C* thing in his post. Never blown through one, but I understand those things require you bring a small set of skills with you. Aren't they pretty much equivalent to the Vandoren Optimum AL4? Can't imagine a band director requiring an AL4 for an absolute beginner, especially one with some of the challenges the OP was describing.

    Yeah I'm sticking with what everyone has said,... 4C and Hite Premiere. The Hite is gonna give off a slightly better and fuller sound, but the 4C will be more forgiving. Both are great for beginners.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru Dog Pants's Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    The Clarke Fobes Debuts work very well too.
    The soft and despicable other side of this rather nasty coin is where everything unintelligible is automatically invested with significance by culture vultures. That was exemplified by a Ravi Shankar concert in London at which, after listening to some applause, Shankar said ‘If you liked our tuning up, I hope you will now like our playing’.

  8. #8

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    The traditional beginner setup is a close tip mpc and soft reed. When beginners are seen puffing their cheeks they should be notified right away to stop and be told that they are developing a bad habit.

  9. #9

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    i just bought a hite premier tenor mpc but i also compared it to a yamaha 4C. the tip opening is at least twice as big on the hite. i also found it kind of touchy for hitting low b-flat.

  10. #10
    Distinguished SOTW member/Official SOTW Sister bandmommy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Quote Originally Posted by dwshell View Post
    Hey all,

    I wanted to ask your opinion on what type of mouthpiece a beginner student should be playing on. Ideally, this mouthpiece should be easy to play on, and allow the student to develop an appropriate embouchure.

    I've had a few students come in with Selmer C*s, but nearly all of them have issues playing on them. Either they puff their cheeks, tongue too hard, or can't make a sound at all! A few band directors in my area even require beginners to pick up a C*. Starting to play an instrument is already too expensive for most, is a $200 mouthpiece really the right thing to ask of them?

    In my experience, a Premiere by J&D Hite work very well for beginning/intermediate students. Yamaha 4Cs also work wonders for beginners, in my opinion.

    Please share your experiences!

    What I have highlighted in bold is very common for beginners. There is no reason they CAN'T start out on a C*.
    When I was starting out (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) the C* was pretty much the standard issue mouthpiece. There were no 4Cs' or Hites' to be found in our sax section. Granted there may be differences in the quality of the 'vintage' pieces and those produced today.
    Get the kid suitable reed, remind them not to puff their cheeks, and explain 'proper embouchure and articulation'. Usually those problems are solved within a couple of lessons. As long as there aren't any issues with the facing of the piece and the condition of the horn the beginner will manage just fine.
    Don't forget that many band directors are not sax players. They believe that if every kid has the same gear they will get a more 'uniform sound' within the section. That's bullcrap, but that's what some think.

    Part of our job as an instructor is to show students how to become adaptable. Think of this as a personal challange to become a better teacher.
    Old reed players are like fine wine. They only get better with age. Tom Hagen

    Play the Music, not the instrument.

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member EgilF.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Interesting. The saxophone teacher at the municipal music schools in Noway suggest that everyone starts on C*. Occasionally there are some who do not follow the advice and use the 4C the first year(s) - because almost everyone plays a Yamaha. After I have refacet 8-10 Selmer C*'s I have learned that "a C* is not a C* is not a C*" . Some are actually a C or even a B, one was like a C ** and one was almost a D.
    Yanagisawa Cuved Soprano - Runyon Custom .065 - Java 2.5 / Cannonball Big Bell Stones Series alto - Beechler Custom Bellite .080 - Red Java 2.5 / JK SX90R Tenor - Sugal KW II .113" - V16 3

  12. #12

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    in tx they want c* or??? some other similar. in florida the shop said they wanted hite or 4c in some districts. Soooooo, it seems MOST directors think they should all have the same. i guess badmommy should change "some"to Most"???

  13. #13
    Forum Contributor 2013 Kelpie's Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    IMO the Hite Premier has a too open tip for a beginner. The opening on these is about a C**. I would recommend the Selmer C* with La Voz med soft reeds for a complete beginner.
    Yanagisawa A-901 alto w/92 bronze neck, Vandoren AL-3 mouthpiece w/Bonade lig, La Voz med reeds
    Keilwerth SX90R black nickel tenor, Yanagisawa 5 mouthpiece, Bonade lig, La Voz med reeds
    Yanagisawa T-901 tenor
    Sankyo Etude flute
    Miyazawa flute

  14. #14

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    well it seems the recomendations are in. I understand the band director wanting similar sound from the group but why send home a list of things to have the first day with a brand of mouthpiece rather than some choices. now what about variability of the mouthpieces? if its a new student, getting a mouthpiece thats a bit off could be big disadvantage. even a bit could affect squeaks and squawks right?. So what do you think the answer is to that.

    What big ears you have Kelpie!

  15. #15
    Forum Contributor 2011 Sterling Archer's Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Quote Originally Posted by dwshell View Post
    Hey all,

    I wanted to ask your opinion on what type of mouthpiece a beginner student should be playing on. Ideally, this mouthpiece should be easy to play on, and allow the student to develop an appropriate embouchure.

    I've had a few students come in with Selmer C*s, but nearly all of them have issues playing on them. Either they puff their cheeks, tongue too hard, or can't make a sound at all! A few band directors in my area even require beginners to pick up a C*. Starting to play an instrument is already too expensive for most, is a $200 mouthpiece really the right thing to ask of them?

    In my experience, a Premiere by J&D Hite work very well for beginning/intermediate students. Yamaha 4Cs also work wonders for beginners, in my opinion.

    Please share your experiences!
    x2. This with a Rico 2 reed works good for me.

  16. #16

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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Yamaha 4cs have worked well... so have Selmer C*s in my experience.

  17. #17

    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Sometimes when I start a beginner saxophonist, I start them on whatever mpc came with the case for the first couple of weeks (provided it's hard rubber....not cheap material with a close tip and/or a medium chamber). Once they get a solid sound, then I give them one of the C* I have stashed away. The C* is definitely the way to go if they can afford it though. Fobes Debuts and Yamaha 4C work pretty good too.

  18. #18
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Stephen Howard's Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    Yamaha 4C, or a 3C - which sometimes blows a little easier on some horns.
    I can't see the point in spending any more for a complete beginner.

    Regards,
    Stephen Howard
    www.shwoodwind.co.uk
    - Woodwind instrument repairs & period restorations
    Author, Haynes Saxophone Manual, Haynes Clarinet Manual

  19. #19
    BertieB's Avatar
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    Default Re: A beginning student's mouthpiece.

    I'd recommend a Runyon 22. Most folks I talk to prefer it to a Yamaha 4C and see it as a significant step up. Also the Fobes Debut is superb and hand finished.
    Alto: Selmer Reference 54/Phil-Tone Rift mpc/Marc Jean Lig/Marca J's
    Tenor: System 54 U/L Powerbell/Phil-Tone Isotope mpc/ Marc Jean Lig/Marca J's
    Soprano: Bauhaus Walstein Bronze Curved/Sop Planet Via Coro mpc/Marc Jean Lig/MarcaJ's

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