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Great video Greg, and great question Philip.

I’ve been working on M2M for just over a year and am cycling back to the fundamentals as I could tell that whilst a lot was starting to fall into place there were still aspects that weren’t correct. Note that until the last couple of years my playing was principally about doing a couple of weeks blowing prior to any upcoming (infrequent) gig. Work/travel and kids etc. preventing much focused time. My technique had everything wrong. Very focused on lots of pressure from chest and squeezing the lips together in a vertical plane only. i.e. No attempt to create an aperture. High notes were all forced out.

You may have seen my post from around a year ago about asymmetric embouchure. And I’ve since noticed that I had also developed horizontal jaw movement in the upper register (above the stave). I’d ‘learned’ lots of sub-conscious ways of sorting out the issues caused by this, but that was all heavily wired into my neural pathways, so was fortunate for lack of gigs to enable a complete rewiring (still work in progress).

OK; so the above is mostly irrelevant, but I wanted to note a couple of things Greg says that have helped this time around:
1. embouchure formation focused much more on the shaping of the aperture around two fingers placed in the mouth as demo-ed by Greg. A horizontal muscle focus before bringing the top lip onto the bottom, makes a huge difference to forming the aperture. This horizontal muscle strength is new to me and so I think this technique just wasn’t available first time around, so this focus didn’t stay in my routine.
2. The jug “spout” as in the above video from Greg was something that was beginning to happen from focus identified in 1. above, but this description is an enormous help.
When this works the passive breath harmonics fly out way past high C. But I have yet to get the technique to control or use that range without reverting to old habits.

Now to the contentious part: I have continued to be blocked by fundamental weakness in my facial & jaw muscles and so unintentionally I’ve progressed with some bad habits still around. But I’ve felt that to assist progress Ive had to add some explicit (strength) exercises. I can feel Greg’s wince here so note I’m hoping to be able to reduce over time:
1. I’ve developed a small tool to help the horizontal muscle focus (a light spring made from a couple of paper clips and narrow straws). Just used once a day.
2. I incorporate extended free and mouthpiece buzzing exercises to prevent any reliance on the mouthpiece and any arm strength assisting (killing) the embouchure (i.e. to build strength in muscles where pressure might hide issues).
3. pencil exercise – with jaw closed and pushing out lower lip (which assists in developing the strength for the “jug spout” I think).

Interested to hear any other examples or horror stories. Thanks for reading, Paul.

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