Getting my chops back

Sax players talk about their ‘chops’ meaning their playing technique, specifically their embouchure. It’s the way your mouth fits round the mouthpiece. If you’re playing regularly, muscle memory shapes your facial muscles to provide breath control and to prevent air leaking round the sides of the reed. If you stop playing for any length of time you may remember, theoretically, how you did it, but your muscles need retraining.

In my case, I used to play alto sax and clarinet back in the day. I took up clarinet when I was 15, and bought the alto a couple of years later. From 1959 through to around 1965 I played in bands, pick-up groups and jam sessions but, with the exception of an occasional outing, I haven’t really played in about 30 years. However, I’ve always had the hankering to play tenor sax, and recently I bought one. Since then I’ve brought the clarinet down from the loft, and I’ve been woodshedding in a local practise room. I blew a bit at Dunbar harbour last weekend,


(great audience, eh?), I’m playing clarinet in Musselburgh on Sunday, and I’m taking both horns to the Callander Poetry Weekend.

I’m not yet as fluid as I used to be, but which of us is? And it’s a groove, man.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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