Many years ago, when I was preparing for a symphony career, along came pieces like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with it’s very fast double and triple tonguing speeds. To get there, I altered my tonguing style to high and forward. and that position stuck with me for all of my playing.
Tongue arch as high as I was doing it isn’t too harmful when most classical music barely gets you to high C above the staff. But, higher notes had me forcing air past my too high tongue (Valsalva Maneuver).
Then, last year, I got Embouchure Focal Dystonia and my playing fell completely apart. My normal playing range to Eb above the staff – gone. Issues I had never known before arose. Most annoying was constantly hearing throat tension noises and feeling that vibration even when playing below the staff. Flexibility was shot and my range maxed out at top line F with a Dystonia-caused tight tremor – sounds like a nervous shake.
Greg Spence and Windworks methods to the rescue – and his infamous magnifying glass thing. Trying to figure out 3-4 issues recently (and all at once) wasn’t working for me, so I decided to started experimenting with tonguing styles.
From an online search, a website said the lowest tongue position is to say “too” (two). “Too” also conveniently sets up the milk spout embouchure while also dropping the jaw position. I feel like I hit the jackpot! Throat tension sounds stopped, the milk spout has became easier to set, and my range is going up. Also less Dystonia tremor. Jackpot!
I still have a very long way to go with passive vs active and learning shape for every note, but what a relief it is to finally experience a big step forward! I think I’ll go back to Largo now to start laying in a new playing foundation.