Steven Jordheim, Professor of Saxophone

Steve Jordheim

I imagine that nearly all saxophonists at some point have wished that they could see what is happening inside the mouth and throat when playing the saxophone.  When learning techniques such as double tonguing or slap tonguing, students often comment that they would find it so much easier to understand the elements involved if they could see what the anatomical structures inside the mouth and throat actually do in producing these techniques.

My long-standing interest in understanding the involvement of the vocal tract in saxophone performance led to “The Saxophonist’s Anatomy” – a project in which I used fiberoptic endoscopic cameras to view and record the movements of the structures inside the mouth and throat during performance of nearly all the standard and extended techniques of saxophone performance.  This studio project included current members, faculty, and alumni of the Lawrence Saxophone Studio; each was recorded endoscopically at an ear, nose, and throat clinic at a local hospital while playing an extensive list of saxophone techniques.

I have created a website – The Saxophonist’s Anatomy – to present video clips with accompanying explanations of all the techniques recorded in this project.  My hope is that the insights you gain through viewing these video clips will help you to make more rapid progress in mastering the techniques of saxophone performance.


Watch:  Jesse Dochnahl LU'05, Steven Jordheim, Sara Kind LU'05, and Sumner Truax LU'13 perform Elliott Carter's Canonic Suite for 4 Alto Saxophones

José Encarnación, Instructor of Jazz Saxophone

Jose Encarnacion

Throughout the years, my concept of improvisation has been in constant change and full of experimentation. Many kinds of music involve improvisation. For many years I have spent a big deal of time on ear training and listening to and transcribing what improvisers have done in the past. Also, I have explored and analyzed improvisational concepts present in performance of varied repertoire in order to understand what it takes to create music right on the spot. This is something I do continuously.

My interest focuses not only on jazz improvisation — which involves the study of African influences in North America, work songs, spirituals, ragtime, blues, bebop, avant-garde, etc. — but on the study of other oral traditions and cultures.

Some examples of my research include:

Polyphonic practices that included improvisatory harmonization during the 14th and 15th centuries
Improvisation of variations on themes during the baroque and classical periods
Improvisations of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven on the organ and piano
Improvisations of cadenzas in concertos during the romantic period, utilizing development of thematic material from the concerto
Aleatoric music (music made by chance or indeterminacy)
Gamelon music of Java and Bali, which involves very sophisticated improvisation
Carnatic music from South India and Hindustani music from North India
Mbira music from Africa
Yoruba People music from West Africa that influenced Cuban music
Seis and Bomba Music from Puerto Rico
My goal is to understand and apply different improvisational concepts from many oral traditions and cultures in both my performance and teaching.  As I impart this knowledge and demonstrate the application of various approaches to improvisation in my teaching, my students become better equipped to create music spontaneously in the course of a performance.

Watch: José Encarnacion plays This Thing with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Quartet

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