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Learning to recognize negative tension is the first step to eliminating it. The best way to improve your playing is to know how you want to play and what it feels like.
Stand or sit up straight, take a comfortable breath, and with no active engagement from the abdominal muscles, hum or sing a comfortable tone. Experiment by trying any/all of these options:
lowering the jaw
pushing then releasing the airflow by engaging and disengaging the abdominal muscles
opening and closing the throat
raising and lowering the head
let the shoulders drop loosely
loosen the chest and find optimum vibration and purity of resonance
Put your bent finger between your teeth and take a slow, soft breath. You cannot do too much of this tricky exercise. It is both a reminder to stay free and open before you play or a way to “Check-In” at the end of an exercise to see if you have closed up and tightened whilst playing; an easy and very effective little trick when practicing.
Practice the backswing. Practice creating the aperture (ahh-ooh), and passive reduction exercises.
Learn to recognize the inward, horizontal movement of the Aperture Corners. Add to this an understanding of the role of the tongue and your upper register will improve dramatically.
Place the index and middle finger extended like a closed peace sign. Put the two fingers, into the mouth with the fingers pointing into the mouth. Index fingers side on the bottom and middle finger under the top teeth. Say aah-ooh and bring the aperture corners toward the fingers. Repeat.
Put the little finger in the middle of the lips and grip it with to corners, not the top and bottom of the lips. Let the lips roll out do not smile.
Stay safe and alert. Don’t let any of these exercises distract your driving.