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TEACHING TIPS WOODWINDS Teaching Vibrato to Middle and High School Saxophonists Michael Rene Torres; The Ohio State University

INTRODUCTION Vibrato is a musical tool which is part of the characteristic sound of the saxophone. It is a basic fundamental skill that adds character and beauty to phrases and is learned like any other musical fundamental: through diligent and focused practice. HOW TO PRODUCE IT Jaw-vibrato is the most commonly used approach to creating saxophone vibrato. It is produced by slightly lowering and raising the bottom jaw. The process subtly lowers the pitch as the bottom jaw drops, returning the pitch as the jaw raises to its original position. This is accomplished while still maintaining proper sound quality, intonation, embouchure control, and air pressure. The process is often described as a “chewing gum motion”1. Another way to conceptualize this action would be to repeat the syllable “moh.” This approach allows students a consistent and measurable lower jaw motion which is easily recreated and controlled. WHEN TO TEACH IT Learning to use vibrato artistically can be a lifelong process that is highly individualized; however, vibrato is not a technique that should wait to be taught in college. Students should learn vibrato when they are ready and not necessarily at a standardized time. 74

The only prerequisite to learning vibrato is the development of proper tone production. When a student is creating a characteristic sound quality and using air correctly, they are ready to begin learning vibrato regardless of age or grade. HOW TO TEACH IT While the speed of vibrato should be flexible to fit the context of the music, it should be practiced strictly in tempo in order to gain control of its use. A metronome is essential during these beginning steps. 1. Ask the student to verbally repeat the syllable “moh” eight times at mm=80 with one vibration per beat. Demonstrate this first, then participate with the student. 2. Ask the student to describe what is happening to their lower jaw as they create the syllable. Explain how the jaw moves in a “chewing gum” motion and ask them to imagine what affect this might have on their sound. 3. Have the student replicate the process while blowing air through the reed, ligature, mouthpiece, and neck. Do not use the body of the saxophone so the student does not worry about pitches and fingerings. Repeat a cycle of whole-note-whole-rest still at mm=80 with one vibration per beat. 4. Attach the neck of the saxophone to the body and TRIAD

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