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When you say “A and Bb in the second staff”, do you mean above the staff (i.e. A and Bb just below High C)? I presume so.

It is difficult to explain–you’re right. At times, I feel foolish to try but something compels me to make the attempt. I suppose it’s because I was lost for so long and finally feel like I found my way.

The “risky track” you mention where you’re facial muscles “wish to smile” that you’re fighting against–that may be wise, or you may be fighting against something your body is trying to do that’s actually a good thing. It’s hard / impossible for me to say. The challenge is that when we contract the aperture corners inwards towards the center of the air column/mouthpiece, the corners of the mouth actually appear to go back as if we’re pulling the corners back and this may have the appearance of a smile, but it’s not the same–in fact, it’s opposite. This can be confusing, but possible to discern with clear focus on what’s actually happening.

If you focus on what’s happening and you conclude that you’re actually contracting the corners inwards towards the center of the air column/mouthpiece, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

If you determine that you’re in fact pulling the corners of the mouth back and thinning out the lips to reduce the aperture, then you’re right to fight that instinct.

In my experience, we want to push more flesh into the air /mouthpiece as we go higher, not less. We can lower the jaw to keep the aperture from closing altogether, if necessary.

In addition, tension in the aperture corners gets pretty tense at High C and above–I think of the aperture corners as the poles in a tent keeping the tent from collapsing. The middle of the lip(s) are loose.

For me, the lips are relatively close together but relatively relaxed, the tension is in the aperture corners, tip of the tongue is behind the bottom teeth and arched in the back (“eeee”) but the throat is open and relaxed. For some reason, I tend to think of this shape like a waiter displaying a tray of food to a dining customer…I think it’s because the concept I have is that I’m creating an optimal shape such that when the air is released the pitch has to happen, I’m delivering it to an optimum place…that probably sounds like nonsense, but sometimes these mental images/games can be helpful in distracting from focusing too much on the Results we want to have happen (i.e. successfully achieving the pitch)…

There may be some compression happening in my mouth, but there is zero from my abdominals.

The only tension needed is in the aperture corners, like the rim around a drum. The “weight” of the air is the only energy needed to play a high C. It’s not going to be a FFFF High C, but it’s a clear note, resonant and notes above the staff seem a bit louder than lower notes.

Less air is required the higher we ascend the harmonic series.

If I release air as described above, with the shape described above, I can get a High C at least to speak, maybe a little higher but I think I have to start using Active Air to get the E and above.

I didn’t have much time to play today, I was busy at work, but will try to think of this as I play tomorrow. For now, I hope this helps and perhaps others will chime in as well.

Let me know.

Oh–one thing that may be helpful is working a bit on releasing the air on the A or Bb “on the second staff” rather than ascending to those notes chromatically–if that’s what you were doing. I found it difficult at first to ascend up to new notes in my range; it was very much in my nature to tense up as I ascended chromatically. And, the most momentum we have from a full breath is when we first release the air–if you start on a lower note and ascend from there, you’re not getting the full amount of the “weight” of that air (the full energy).

Perhaps starting on releasing an A with the small aperture and hitting the note straight away, then next trying the Bb, the B natural, C, etc. with a brief rest and breath in between might be helpful.

If you do play chromatic or ascending scales, try to use good full air and play softer (but with full air) as you ascend; this helps the aperture naturally reduce with less unecessary tension, in my experience, especially when using Passively released air.

A lot of the WindWorks exercises do things like this which are very helpful so some of this may sound familiar.



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