Is your child 'set-up' for Success? Part 2.





The mouthpiece is an integral piece of equipment that will greatly effect the playability of the instrument. A quality mouthpiece will not only improve the tone of a student but will also ensure that the saxophone is reacting correctly to the use of air. A poor-quality mouthpiece will make the production of an even tone almost impossible for the student, leading to students being dissatisfied and at risk of discontinuing. 

At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we recommend all beginner students use a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, no matter what brand of saxophone they are using. The Yamaha 4C is a plastic machine-made mouthpiece of high quality and good design. It enables a strong even tone with great response for clear and light articulation. This mouthpiece is ideal for students in the first series of AMEB examinations (up to grade 4).

Once the student has been playing a few years and has developed a stable and correct embouchure a mouthpiece upgrade is recommended. 

To achieve the quality of sound, response of articulation and flexibility of tone colour expected for AMEB grade 5 and above, and for the budding student, A handcrafted ebonite mouthpiece is highly recommended. There is a huge range of these mouthpieces available and the idea of upgrading the mouthpiece can be a daunting one. At this stage of development we at the Saxophone Academy Sydney recommend a traditional/classical style mouthpiece. Even if the student is interested in jazz. These mouthpieces are much easier to control and will allow the student the appropriate sound and consistency expected for any school ensemble, be it concert band or big band. 

The two mouthpiece brands we recommend at the Saxophone Academy Sydney are Selmer and Vandoren. These two brands (both French) have been the industry standard in this style of mouthpiece since the early 20th Century. They come in a variety of styles and designs and therefore guidance from your tutor or a Saxophone Academy Sydney staff member is recommend at this stage. Popular options in this category are 

Vandoren V5 range (A15, A20, A27, A28) 

The french standard. This mouthpiece enables for great tonal flexibility while still maintaining evenness of tone and great response 

Vandoren Optimum range (AL3, AL4, AL5) 

A darker tonal concept than the V5 mouthpiece but with  less tonal flexibility. Incredible ease of playing.

Selmer S80 range (C*, C**, D) 

The standard mouthpiece upgrade in Australia since the 1980s. Great tonal variation and sound emission, easy articulation 

Selmer S90 range (170, 180, 190) 

Very similar to the S80 range but with a slightly brighter and clearer tone. 

A mouthpiece that has become very popular over the past few years is the Selmer Concept mouthpiece. This mouthpiece is a laser made ebonite mouthpiece and has become very popular amongst professionals. We at the Saxophone Academy Sydney believe this mouthpiece is excellent for the professional player, but requires a great level of technique and flexibility to achieve great results from, therefore we do not recommend it for students. 

If a student is considering a jazz mouthpiece, they should be aware that they require a great deal of control and flexibility and should be practiced on daily to achieve good results. They are also not appropriate for AMEB examinations as they produce a different tonal concept. Students in jazz bands etc at school are encouraged to consult their tutor if a jazz mouthpiece is appropriate.