Play Saxophone – Sitting or Standing ?
There is no doubt about it. When you play saxophone, you are awesome.
That’s all well and good, but then a few practicalities emerge…. such as how to actually play saxophone….and then even taking things back a step further, should you stand up or sit down while you play your saxophone ?
The human body is obviously a complex instrument.
We can bend and contort our bodies into amazing positions. But just because we can does not necessarily mean that we should !
From a practical standpoint, when you are playing your saxophone, you are likely to find yourself in different situations.
If you are playing in a large group – such as a Concert Band, a Big Band, a Wind Band, an Orchestra – then chances are high that during rehearsals your band leader is likely to want everyone to sit down.
Particularly in a primary or middle school situation, having everyone sit down makes it easier for the band leader to control potentially unruly students wielding noisy instruments !!
Sitting down also makes it easier for everyone to see the band leader or conductor, which in turn makes for a more cohesive and harmonious group of musicians who are all playing together.
Smaller groups, trios, duos or solo performers often find themselves standing up to play saxophone. Rock bands or jazz bands often find themselves standing up. Marching bands are very good at standing up !!
The saxophone is a medium to large sized instrument.
The problem for the saxophonists is that their instruments are designed to be held slightly side on to the players body.
On some smaller students it can look and feel enormous ! Enormous musical instruments tend to be a little awkward to hold, particularly when sitting down.
A Tenor Saxophone is quite large, so it has to go down past the right hip of the musician. A Baritone Saxophone is even larger. Care needs to be taken by the musician so as not to bump, scratch or dent their precious saxophone on the chair.
This can mean that Tenor or Bari saxophonists need to sit on a slightly strange angle, slightly forward and slightly twisted on their chair.
Alto saxophonists have similar struggles. Sax down to the side like their Tenor and Bari brothers and sisters, or between the legs ?
As a seated Alto saxophone player, please do NOT put your sax between your legs when you play. It needs to go down to the right, on the outside of your right leg.
Putting it between your legs can cause bad posture, inefficient and laboured breathing and can make you stretch up to reach the mouthpiece – all of which will result in aches, pains, a fairly crappy sound and an uncomfortable rehearsal.
(Soprano saxophonists are lucky, mainly because most Sopranos are straight and not curved like Altos, Tenors or Baris. Like their clarinet cousins, Soprano saxophonists can point their saxophones out in front of them, which is easier to do while sitting down.)
For a few minutes, sitting down to play saxophone not a problem in the global scheme of things. Yes, it’s a bit weird, but suck it up, Princess !!
After an hour or so, sitting down to play saxophone does start to get uncomfortable. In fact, sitting down to play most blowing instruments – including and especially saxophones – is not the best idea !
Throw into the mix that the human body is not really designed to sit for long periods of time anyway. Lungs, breathing, lower back and stomach muscles, and controlling all of these can become difficult fairly quickly – and these are obviously fairly important when it comes to playing your saxophone.
Stand Up and Play Saxophone.
The ideal situation with a saxophone is to stand up.
There is less to bang your saxophone on and damage it when you are standing up.
Your breathing, embouchure (face and mouth muscles), your arms, your shoulders, your lower back and stomach muscles will all have an easier time making you and your saxophone sound amazing.
Simple things like keeping the beat by tapping your foot or rocking backwards and forwards slightly become easier.
Your neckstrap then becomes the perfect pivot and balance point that holds your saxophone in exactly the right place, allowing your arms and shoulders to move more freely, which in turn makes your fingers more responsive.
Yes, after a while a saxophone can get to be a bit heavy. However, like all things in life, practice can help you move towards being perfect.
Long distance runners don’t suddenly run long distances: they practice short distances first. Weight lifters don’t lift cars and elephants straight away: they practice with smaller weights ( like saxophones ! ) first.
If you play the saxophone, after a while you will not notice its weight, or its size for that matter. It will become a part of you. Just like a snugly warm and heavy coat in winter, you just pick it up and put it on. No big deal.
Stand up to practice at home. Stand up to perform if possible.
Stand up whenever you can to play your saxophone !
Yes, there are times when sitting down to play saxophone is the only option.
However, if you have the choice then PLEASE STAND UP !
Your body will thank you. Your sound will improve. Your skills will improve.
You will ensure that you can play saxophone well into your old age.
You will have fun. You will play saxophone. You will be awesome.
And you can repeat as often and for as long as you would like.
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