Thursday, June 19, 2014

Online Workshops: Sound, Overtones, and Altissimo

Currently I'm putting together a number of online workshops for players looking to improve their sound, and for players who would like to improve their ability to play altissimo. They will take place via skype or google hangouts group video chat. They will be free to participate in, and, as the name workshop implies, they welcome you to contribute with your knowledge and experience.

Sound and Overtones Workshop
This workshop will address various techniques and approaches that improve overall sound or tone. Possible topics include embouchure, air support, tongue position, articulation, other voicing techniques, multiphonics, and overtones. If you're interested please email me at and include a note about your overall playing experience.

Altissimo Workshop
This workshop will be divided into two sections: one for players just beginning to play altissimo and one for players who have been playing it for a while but would like to fine tune their control and/or sound. If you are interested please email me at and tell me where you are in terms of altissimo.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ben's First Video Blog: Why Should You Practice Overtones?

This is all about the benefits of overtone practice and relying on voicing rather than embouchure. Just in case you weren't convinced...

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Complete Approach to Overtones: Vivid Sound and Extended Range

Hey everyone, I'm happy to share that my latest effort, an in-depth treatment on overtones for saxophone, has finally come to fruition. Its purpose is to help players at all levels improve their ability to play overtones, which in turn improves your tone, your ability to get around the horn, and your ability to play in the altissimo register. The book is designed to help beginners play their first overtones but at the same time improve the ability of players who already have a four octave overtone range (and everyone in between).

Where to Get It
In Print: Amazon and Createspace (if you want to provide the author with the most support, createspace is the most direct route of supporting the print version)

Digital Ebook: Payhip

Look Inside
See excerpts from the book.
See the Table of Contents.

Note on Sound Clips
There are sound clips that accompany one section of the book 'Slurring up the Overtone Series'. This is one of the most difficult sections of the book, and for that reason I've provided sound clips. They can be downloaded here.

Endorsement and Review
"Ben Britton has put together a comprehensive volume explaining the overtone series and how to practice with it. A must-have for serious students of the saxophone." - Charles Pillow, Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone, Eastman School of Music

"This is a book that could very well be studied as a high school student, reviewed again at the college level, and re-reviewed throughout a professional playing career." - Bret Pimentel, full review

Benefits of Overtone Practice
From the book's introduction: "One of the most efficient ways to improve saxophone sound or tone is through overtone practice. Just a minute or two of proper overtone practice immediately increases the clarity and richness of tone as well as increases your ability to maintain a great sound while playing technically difficult music. Regularly practicing overtones will lead to consistently achieving those ends and extending your range into the altissimo register. Mastering overtones can result in a near four-octave range with a consistent and beautiful sound throughout."

What 'Complete Approach' Means
There are a number of different exercise types in the book including bugling exercises, slurred ascending overtones, scales, arpeggios, etc. Each exercise type improves a different aspect of your ability to play overtones.

Beginner Friendly
The book is designed so that someone who has never played overtones before will be able to quickly get started. Most of the exercises are progressive, so that they start out with a simple and easy version and then progress to more difficult territory. The book also includes helps and aids for easing into increasingly difficult overtones.

For Advanced Players
Most of the exercises in the text are taken to a reasonable extreme. This means that an advanced player (and I mean any advanced player you can think of) can open up to any section of the book and find an iteration of the exercise being presented that will challenge and help them.

Old and New
When I was a kid, I had the strange experience of playing a long overtone when suddenly it began slowly ascending from overtone to overtone. It topped out in some ridiculously high register, and I was floored. My friend ran into the room and asked me what I had just done, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders.

The experience has always stuck with me, and in the past two years I've explored that possibility among others to see how it could improve my ability to play the saxophone. That exploration has led me to a number of difficult yet helpful exercises. This book includes both the many helpful exercises I've been taught over the years and exercises I've created in trying to discover what is really possible with the saxophone.

For my first book, A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist, click here.