Developing a good saxophone section -whether in concert band or big band, requires a good tone, which is the most vital part of playing the saxophone. The tone is created by the air column, which is controlled and refined by (1) the air used and (2) the embouchure.

Air Column

Players can improve their tone by inhaling quickly and deeply through the corners of their mouths. This will keep the basic embouchure position intact so that the player can resume a good tone immediately after inhaling.


  1. Lower lip curved over teeth, drawn toward center for cushion
  2. Teeth must rest on top of the mouthpiece.
  3. Chin should be normal, not pointed.
  4. Bring corners of the mouth in, toward the center -round feeling.
  5. Shaped should feel very solid, but not tense.

The Correct Balance between Air and Embouchure

To determine the correct balance between air and embouchure, a simple test is to play a note using only the mouthpiece. The goal is to achieve the following pitches:

  1. Take a quick, deep breath
  2. Sustain the following concert pitch at ff:

Keep the embouchure round. If the pitch is too high, think of a larger circle. If it is too low, think of a smaller circle. The air flow is controlled by the position of the tongue, so you may have to experiment by thinking of a different syllable -from “ee” to “ah.”