The Importance of Relaxation for a Clear Saxophone Sound

Achieving a clear and resonant sound on the saxophone is a goal for every player. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter issues such as a strained or strangled sound. In this article, we will explore the connection between relaxation and sound quality on the saxophone. Martino, founder of the London Saxophone School, emphasizes the importance of relaxation in producing a rich and vibrant tone. By understanding how tension affects our playing and implementing simple techniques, we can unlock a more relaxed and expressive sound.

The Impact of Tension on Sound Production

Tension in the body and throat can have a detrimental effect on your saxophone sound. Martino draws this analogy to demonstrate this concept: Just as pressing on the throat inhibits our voice, tension in the body and throat restricts the flow of air, resulting in a strangled sound on the saxophone. To achieve a relaxed and resonant sound, it is crucial to eliminate tension throughout the body.

Relaxation: The Key to a Relaxed Sound

To produce a relaxed sound, the entire body needs to be in a state of relaxation. Tension in any part of the body can impact the quality of sound produced. Martino highlights the importance of relaxation in the throat. By ensuring that the throat is relaxed, the air can flow freely, allowing for a fuller and more resonant tone.

To relax the throat, Martino shares a simple technique: cup your hands in front of your face and blow hot air, as if you are fogging up a mirror. By doing this, the throat naturally opens up and relaxes.

The Connection Between Relaxation and Sound Quality

As Martino explains, our sound originates from the diaphragm and travels through the throat to get to the saxophone. Any tension or constriction in the throat can impede the flow of air, resulting in a compromised sound quality.

By focusing on relaxation, we can achieve a more open and resonant sound. When the body is relaxed, the air can travel freely, allowing for a greater depth of sound and improved tonal quality. The elimination of tension in the throat also enhances the player’s control over dynamics, articulation, and overall expressiveness.

Incorporating Relaxation Techniques

In addition to the hand exercise mentioned earlier, there are several other techniques that can help you achieve a relaxed sound on the saxophone. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Before playing, take a few moments to engage in deep, diaphragmatic breathing. This helps relax the body and prepare it for optimal sound production.
  2. Body Awareness: Develop an awareness of tension in your body while playing. Pay attention to areas such as the shoulders, neck, and jaw, and consciously release any tension that you notice.
  3. Warm-Up Exercises: Incorporate gentle warm-up exercises into your practice routine to promote relaxation and flexibility. These can include long tones, lip slurs, and slow scales.
  4. Vocalization: Use vocal exercises to connect with your breath and promote relaxation in the throat. Singing or humming before playing can help warm up the vocal cords and encourage a more relaxed sound production on the saxophone.
  5. Posture and Body Alignment: Maintain good posture and alignment while playing the saxophone. This ensures that the body is in an optimal position to support relaxed and efficient playing.


Relaxation is a vital component of achieving a clear and open saxophone sound. Relaxing the throat is especially important. Any tension anywhere in the body will come out in your sound. Focus on relieving tension, body awareness, and posture in order to produce a great saxophone sound every time you play.

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