I had the pleasure of interviewing Eugene Cantera, teacher and saxophonist at the Dallas School of Music, for my radio show on the BAM Radio Network. We were able to record 2 interviews; you can listen to the first one here.

A little background info on Eugene and the Dallas School of Music :

Eugene Cantera is the Director of Marketing and Social Media for the Dallas School of Music, which was selected best music education service in North Texas by D Magazine and Dallas Child Magazine.

Eugene grew up in South Jersey, attended college at the Hartt School of Music in CT, and has been a partner at The Dallas School of Music for the past 20 years.  He is a co-founder of dlp Music Books, an avid music-ed blogger, and performs regularly in the Dallas area.


The folks at the Dallas School of Music and dlp Music Books are excited to announce a new program for saxophonists of all levels. “It’s an extension of our popular 1 Series for Reading Music and Jazz Improv” says Eugene Cantera of DSM, “A daily dose of saxophone yummy-ness that will hopefully intrigue and inspire you to get a little more sax in your life!”. 😉

There are currently over 18,000 members that subscribe to dlp blogs, the Kore and Jazz Books, and the 1 Series of emails. The DSM team is now turning their attention to instrument specific groups and have decided to begin with saxophone. “We know there are some great websites out there that have passionate teachers doing some fantastic work. We’d like to feature students, teachers, and enthusiasts alike and create a collaborative atmosphere where everyone can jump in as time allows. We’ll contribute some personal anecdotes and original dlp musiced content and then encourage folks to comment and share their thoughts, ideas, teaching and learning experiences… successes… and struggles as well”.

The new website that covers all things saxophone is: www.dlpsaxophone.com.

In my second interview with Eugene, as all saxophonists do, we got into some “geek talk.” Here are some of the highlights. You can listen to the show here.

 Ligature Placement

Many sax and clarinet mouthpiece ligatures are placed with the screws or plates on the bottom side of the mouthpiece, pressing against the reed.

There have been many new styles of ligatures invented that do not follow that formula, and tighten against the mouthpiece at the top instead of the bottom. Others still tighten at the bottom, but do not cover a large area of the reed. The theory behind this is that it allows more of the reed to fully vibrate.

Mouthpieces and Saxes

Eugene and I talk briefly about mouthpieces. I currently use Theo Wanne’s Gaia metal mouthpiece for my Selmer Mark VI tenor sax, and Jody Jazz DV metal for my Selmer Mark VI alto sax. Eugene uses his 1981 plastic Meyer 6 on his Selmer Mark VI tenor sax.

The key to picking the right mouthpiece (and reeds) is thinking about the sound you want, the styles of music you play (and the sound required for them), and most importantly, the EASE of playing notes in the FULL RANGE of the horn.

Reeds: Plastic vs. Wood?

Sometimes when you change mouthpieces, you have to change the brand of reed you are using. In my case, I had been using the Legere Studio Cut plastic reeds for many years with my metal mouthpieces. When I changed my approach to playing, I decided to switch back to wood reeds, and I really love the Rigotti Gold series for tenor and alto saxes. (Please note, the following links are from Amazon, of which I am an affiliate.)

I personally, would not recommend that beginners or intermediate players use plastic reeds. It would be difficult to produce a good sound for undeveloped embouchres. Once the embouchure is more developed, there are some really good plastic reeds, like Legere (not Studio Cut, which is more for Rock and Jazz music and “cuts” more in a performance), and Harry Hartmann’s Fiberreed. These reeds can give you more of that Classical sound. For people who play in bands and need to cut through, the Rico Plasticovers are widely used, as well as Legere Studio Cut.

I normally recommend Rico Royal reeds for my beginner woodwind players. Many of the reeds in each box work right away.

Flavored Reeds?

Noooooooo!!!! They may taste great, but they are expensive and don’t always work or last long enough.

 Adjusting Reeds

Reed Geek is a fantastic tool to help adjust and fine-tune your reeds. Here’s a video link with the inventor Mauro Di Gioia and saxophone icon David Sanborn talking about this great product:


Even though this article was “geek talk”, you can learn a lot about instruments, reeds, ligatures and other products based upon what others use and have tried. Of course, you have to make the right decision for yourself with regard to which products will work for you, but it always helps to read reviews and talk to people to get their opinions.

In future articles on my site and on the www.dlpsaxophone.com, we will talk more about reeds, choosing mouthpieces and all other things saxophone.

To hear this interview with Eugene and myself, click here.

Want to learn how to play the saxophone? Check out my Online Lessons here.