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Music Lessons | Saxophone, Clarinet, and Flute Lessons in Mountain View, Cupertino CA

Beginning to advanced private music lessons on Saxophone, Clarinet, and Flute with Ken Moran.  Areas include Mountain View, Atherton, Palo Alto, San Jose, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, South Bay, and Silicon Valley. With an emphasis on fun, students will learn a solid basic foundation of warm-ups, scales, technical studies, and appropriate repertoire on their instrument.

Filtering by Category: saxophone accessories

Popular Saxophone Mouthpieces for Beginning to Intermediate Students

Ken Moran

Ah of the most popular questions I get from students and parents is, "Do I need a better mouthpiece and does it make a difference?"  The short answer, yes.  Most of the sound being produced on saxophone is coming from the mouthpiece and neck area.  This means that the mouthpiece, ligature (the gadget that holds the reed to the mouthpiece), and reed are vital to the saxophone sounding good.  One of the best and most cost effective investments you can make in your or your child's saxophone playing experience is a quality mouthpiece and ligature.  Please CLICK HERE for the blog featuring saxophone ligatures.  

Prices range from around $100-200 for a solid intermediate alto saxophone mouthpiece and $100-250 for a tenor mouthpiece (although you can spend upwards of $500).  Mouthpieces are generally measured by the tip opening. The larger the tip opening (or higher the number), the harder it is to play but the bigger and more open sounding it is.  Let's start with alto saxophone mouthpieces.

Meyer MR-402-5MM Rubber Alto Sax Mouthpiece

Meyer mouthpieces have been around for a long time.  Many professional alto players still play vintage mouthpieces from the 1970s.  In my opinion, a Meyer is the best bang-for-the-buck alto saxophone mouthpiece.  If you are on a budget, go for this.  Although is is mainly a jazz mouthpiece, the sound is versatile enough that it can be used in classical situations as well.  Typical sizes for this mouthpiece are 5M and 6M.  If you are unsure about which size is more appropriate, order both and send back one!  6M is more open and harder to play, but like I mentioned earlier you will get a bigger sound.

Jody Jazz HR* Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece Model #6M

Jody Jazz Mouthpieces are also a good bet and probably my favorite for advancing students.  Though slightly more expensive, many students really enjoy playing this mouthpiece.  The sound is slightly darker and warmer than Meyer MR-502, which may be better for the student that wishes to play Jazz and Classical music.  Once again, the typical sizes here are 5M and 6M.

Otto Link Vintage Series Hard Rubber Tenor Saxophone Mouthpiece

Like Meyer mouthpieces for alto, Ottolink mouthpieces have been around since "back in the day."  Old vintage Ottolinks are sought after and are worth quite a bit of money these days.  This is a great mouthpiece for an intermediate tenor saxophone student and can be used both for classical and jazz.  The most common size for tenor mouthpieces like this would be a 7 or 7*.  These sizes are generally comparable to sizes 5M and 6M for alto mouthpieces.  

Otto Link OLM-404-7S Super Tone Master Metal Tenor Saxophone MouthpiecE

For those seeking a brighter and more edgy sound, the Ottolink metal mouthpiece is a good option.  The same sizes of either 7 or 7* should be appropriate for most students.  Keep in mind, this mouthpiece is geared more towards Jazz and Contemporary music and would not be the best fit for classical music. 

My "go to" mouthpiece for advancing students is the same model as the alto mouthpiece, Jody Jazz HR for tenor.  I have found that the 7* (.105 tip) size works best for my students and should work well for you as well.  It's middle of the road as far as openness and many different sizes of reeds work well.  This mouthpiece has a well balanced and warm sound, perfect for all styles of music!  Below is a video about Jody Jazz Mouthpieces.

Be sure to check out my other blog posts on reeds and ligatures, as having the right reed and ligature combination is essential to getting the best sound possible.  Please message me with any questions for comments.  Until next time!

Saxophone Lessons, Clarinet Lessons, Flute Lessons, Saxophone Teacher, Flute Teacher, Clarinet Teacher, Mountain View CA, Palo Alto CA, Sunnyvale CA, Santa Clara CA, Cupertino CA, Silicon Valley CA, San Jose CA, Los Gatos CA, Los Altos CA, South Bay CA, Saratoga CA, Atherton CA, Beginning Saxophone

Basic Clarinet Fingering Chart

Ken Moran

Fingering charts can be hit or miss depending on the book you are using.  Here is a basic fingering chart for beginning students on clarinet that I use with my students.  This came from the Essential Elements Volume 1 for Clarinet book.  In the following weeks I will also post fingering charts for saxophone and flute.  Stay Tuned!

Best Traditional Metronome and Metronome App for iPhone and Android

Ken Moran

I have always been a firm believer in using a metronome at all times when you are practicing.  These days it's now easier than ever with good metronome apps available for your iPhone or Android phone so you can bring it wherever you go--so there's no excuse for bad time!  ProMetronome for iPhone recently updated their application and now it is better than ever.  

ProMetronome is currently my top choice for using a metronome both for my own practicing and lessons with students.  The colors are bright and it's easy to distinguish the different beats and follow along with the time.  In addition, the interface is very user friendly, making the app very easy to use for students of all ages.  I haven't upgraded to the "pro" version yet, so if you want to use the app is landscape mode you will need to do that.  Most importantly, there are a wide variety of metronome click sounds to choose from and they are very loud!  My biggest complaint with other metronomes is the sounds not being loud enough to hear over instruments.

For Android phones, I have only used one app consistently that I like--Mobile Metronome.  This app is free and has a nice user interface.  As with ProMetronome, the metronome clicks are also loud enough for a multitude of musical environments.  As with most apps, if you want to get rid of the advertisements at the bottom you must upgrade.  If using an application on your phone won't work for you there are other good options like traditional metronomes.

I grew up using metronomes, and often times having a separate metronome to keep in your instrument case or backpack (especially with children) is the best option.  In this case, I would recommend the Korg TM-40 Large Display Digital Tuner and Metronome.  This rugged metronome also features a tuner so not only can you keep time, but you can stay in tune!  The display is easy to read and the buttons are straight-forward and basic to understand.  There are many great metronomes out there, from more compact credit card sized ones to larger metronomes with more controls and sound options, but the Korg is great for students because it has everything you need and will withstand many drops to the ground.

Thanks for reading!  Please contact me with any questions or comments.

Premium Ligatures for Saxophone and Clarinet

Ken Moran

Standard metal ligature and mouthpiece cap.

Standard metal ligature and mouthpiece cap.

I have heard too many times, "it's not the equipment, it's the player and how much you practice!" While this is true to a certain extent, the equipment (and in this case the ligature) you use to play your instrument can make a substantial difference in your tone, articulation, and response.  All of the sound is produced from the reed, mouthpiece, and neck so this part of the instrument is extremely important.  Even as a beginner, using an upgraded ligature will allow you to have an easier time playing and learning the instrument.  Let's begin with clarinet.  The standard metal ligature that comes with most clarinets and saxophones works just fine, but there are better options. 

Rovner ligatures are a great option for both saxophones and clarinet.  They are inexpensive, effective, and easy to use with a one screw design.  The Rovner L6 ligature (pictured above) is for alto saxophone but the same design is available for clarinet.  The slotted design will feature a slightly brighter sound, more suitable for jazz, contemporary, and all styles of music.  The un-slotted version has a darker sound and will be the most appropriate for classical styles of music.  If you would like to get a but fancier, then you can go for the Rovner Versa ligature, which has a built in tone plate that will improve tone quality and open up the sound even more.

The Rico H Ligature for clarinet and saxophone.

The Rico H Ligature for clarinet and saxophone.

Currently, I am playing a Rico H Ligature on my clarinet.  I really like this ligature because it is inexpensive and produces a bright and open sound.  The "H" style shape is meant to provide even pressure across the reed.  In addition, the mouthpiece cap is excellent.  You wouldn't think the mouthpiece cap would matter, but in fact it is very important because the cap can make the difference in keeping your reed safe and in good condition.  The build quality is great and it fits securely over the mouthpiece.  For those seeking a darker sound,  Rovner makes several leather-like ligatures that work well and darken the sound just a bit.  One example is the Rovner 1R clarinet ligature.  BG also make some quality products and I do like the L4 R ligature.  This features a tone plate under the reed which can cause he reed to vibrate more and therefore produce more sound.  If you are looking for a good, inexpensive ligature for saxophone, I would recommend the Rico H ligature as well.  

The Ultimate Ligature for saxophone by Francios Louis.

The Ultimate Ligature for saxophone by Francios Louis.

Francios Louie Makes some truly amazing ligatures for woodwind instruments and I have tried several over the years.  I believe he was one of the first to have some serious success with innovate saxophone ligatures.  Currently, his ligatures are used all over the world by classical and jazz players.  For serious saxophone players, I would suggest checking out the Ultimate Ligature by Francios Louis.  The concept behind this interesting looking piece is minimal contact with the mouthpiece, thus allowing the reed to vibrate freely.  This ligature really does open up the sound and produce some amazing results, but it's not for every mouthpiece.  I found this ligature to be a little too bright and less focused with my metal mouthpiece.  The Pure Brass ligature is based on the same principles and is one of the more recent models.  I have found the Pure Brass to help produce a slightly darker tone but it also amazingly opens up the sound.   The Ultimate ligatures do come with an unusual mouthpiece cap that only covers the reed (which isn't my favorite), but because of it's awkward shape standard mouthpiece caps will not fit.  Personally, I have really enjoyed using the Olegature on my hard rubber mouthpiece.  This ligature is beautifully crafted and provides a very open and warm sound with an extremely even response.   Furthermore, the two screws can be tightened or loosened to create varying pressure on the reed and change the tone and response.  Not only does it look good, but it's functional as well!

The Olegature for saxophone and woodwind instruments.

The Olegature for saxophone and woodwind instruments.

There are so many options for instrument accessories these days and the only real way to find what works for you is to experiment.  I have a drawer of ligatures that I have used over the years but finally have a setup that works for me.  In my next post, I will post fingering charts for saxophone, clarinet, and flute.  Until next time!