I often find myself “kicking” and forcing more air when playing higher notes but am starting to move away from that gradually with a new awareness since I began this course. I spend a bit of time each day doing leadpipe exercises to work on shape without engagement from below the head. This doesn’t feel at all how my regular playing does but it is beginning to influence it and things are starting to become easier and more relaxed.
I like your idea of letting the air lead the note and experimenting with the shape only. I will incorporate this into my exercises and see where it leads. I have tried it today and it’s very tricky for me to separate the aperture from everything else, so I definitely need to spend some time on it.
That coffee stirrer visualisation creates a familiar feeling, I associate it with my playing on a good day. Will try to remember that one!
Your suggestion with the mirror aperture exercise makes a lot of sense, if I think of a round aperture I seem to achieve a “rounder” sound and this feels like more engagement from the corners. Another thing to try and remember while playing..