Sax Key Extensions?

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  • #41328
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Hi all,

    I’m looking for a way to extend alto saxophone keys for a student with short fingers. It doesn’t look like there is a sax key extension product already in existence. Suggestions for how to do this myself are welcomed. My fourth-grade student has Down Syndrome. He loves music and is very excited to play an instrument. However, he was only able to make a sound on the sax mouthpiece. (He had a lot of trouble covering the holes on recorder, so clarinet wouldn’t be a good option.) I’d like to be make (or buy) key extensions that wouldn’t ruin the instrument if I had to take them off because his parents will most likely rent an instrument, not buy one.

    Any ideas?

    Thank you!

    #42044
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Hello,

    This past summer I encountered a situation similar to yours, but mine involved a beginning clarinet student. The student had just begun playing the clarinet in her high school marching band (being her first time ever involved in band!). As a college student, I was fortunate enough to get to assist the clarinet section during this band camp.

    The student understood all musical concepts taught to her and absolutely loved being involved in band. There was one problem… her hands were too small for her fingers to cover the holes (similar to your situation). Having gone a whole week helping assist this student, it was apparent she was not going to be able to continue playing the clarinet, at least not until her hands got bigger. An easy solution to this problem was offering the student an option to play a different instrument. Luckily, she was using a school instrument and hadn’t bought a clarinet yet. At first she was hesitant, but the director had convinced her to switch to the flute.

    I know you mentioned your student loves music and is excited to play an instrument. You can use this to your advantage and hopefully convince him that playing the trumpet isn’t that bad! You mentioned he can make a sound on the saxophone mouthpiece, but maybe trying to see if he can buzz on a trumpet mouthpiece can be a step in the right direction!

    Good luck!

    #42216
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Hello,

    I am a sax player and I am having a hard time trying to figure out an extension for the keys. I would say since you want an easy fix that can be removed with minimal damage to use Popsicle sticks. Now bear with me here. If you got a heavy duty Popsicle stick for like an arts and craft type deal. You could then cut them down to make a small extension. You could then use a small piece of a duct tape or something similar to that to hold these small extensions on. This way all that you will have to do upon removal is get some goo gone and clean up the sticky parts that are left.

    I hope this helps!

    #42338
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Talk to your local instrument repair person. They can be quite ingenious when it comes to customizing instruments for individual needs.

    Back in 2000, I worked with a trumpet player whose fingers were paralyzed, and together with two engineers we fashioned an air-powered trumpet that operated via touch pads situated about the valves. Shortly after that, I wrote an article about the instrument and did some research on similar instruments I learned about: a flute for a man missing two fingers, a sax for a man with one arm, and a drum set for a man missing half a leg. These all involved musical instrument repair people who came up with a solution. Yours sounds like an easy fix!

    #43591
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Yes, similar to what Snedeker mentioned, there are many cases where people with disabilities had instrument adaptations. I had a similar situation to yours a few years back with a saxophone player whose fingers were short due to an accident. We worked with popsicle sticks as mentioned above (we only had to adjust the right hand) and he was able to play that year with the modification. It was great to see him able to play the saxophone! He soon learned to adjust the position of his hand forward more and use some of his hand to play the saxophone without any modification. I would recommend talking to the local shops as well, to see if they have any ideas. Good luck!

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