The amount of lip rolled in over the bottom teeth often changes according to the style of music. Typically, jazz and pop saxophonists will play with the lower lip rolled out in while classical players will tend to roll the lip in further over the teeth. A common problem with beginners is to have the bottom lip so far rolled in that it stops the reed from vibrating properly.
For this exercise, play the following example, or a familiar melody, first with a majority of the bottom lip rolled over the bottom teeth. With the lip rolled too far in, as described, the sound can become thin and sometimes even harsh or biting. Next, roll the lip in only moderately so that a little less than half of it is pulled over the bottom teeth and play the melody again. The tone should have less highs and more depth than before. Now, roll out your bottom lip so that only a little of it remains between the bottom teeth and the reed and play the melody again. The sound will become brighter and lush. Some players will find they need to either roll their bottom lip in or out to achieve their desired sound. Make note of any needed change and review your bottom lip position and resulting sound regularly during your daily practice sessions until you have formed a consistent habit.
Sound Clips: Lip Rolled Out.mp3, Lip Rolled In.mp3, Lip Rolled Too Far In.mp3
Excerpt from "Introduction to Air Stream Focus" in Chapter 1
Another foundational determinant of tone quality is the concept of air stream focus. The initial speed of the air stream is determined by your air support, but it can be further shaped by the vocal tract, which consists of the throat, tongue, and mouth. A well-focused vocal tract will help the tone sound supported, in tune, full and rich in harmonics. This will further relieve any need for added embouchure pressure.
Controlling the muscles involved in focusing the air stream can be elusive and it is something most efficiently learned through experimentation with overtones, which will be addressed in chapter 4. However, you can start experimenting with some simple recommendations and exercises to begin learning this concept.
The tongue plays a primary role in the vocal tract, and getting in the habit of placing it in a supportive position is one of the first steps to focusing your airstream. The tongue should be relaxed and wide, but the sides should be high enough in the mouth that they touch the bottom and sides of the upper back molars. Keeping the center of the tongue relaxed and wide, while raising its sides in the back to touch the top molars, will focus the airstream, and promote good tone quality and intonation.
Exercise 1.6 - Low vs. High
This exercise contrasts incorrect and correct technique. First, play a medium fast slurred scale while keeping the sides of the tongue low so they are not touching the bottom back molars, and then contrast that with the correct technique described previously. Note how supported and in tune the sound is when using the correct technique and how dull and unsupported it is when the sides of the tongue are lowered.
Sound Clips: Scale with Correct Tongue Position.mp3, Scale with Incorrect Tongue Position.mp3