I realized today that even though I’m thinking “mmm..aah..ooh” and believing I’m starting this way, I’m actually closing up my jaw rather than maintaining an “aah” openness when starting notes. I’ve been at this for awhile and this awareness FINALLY clicked. (Repetition of WindWorks concepts was key.) When I made the change, the improvement in sound and flexibility was profound, and no pinch with higher notes. It’s hard for the top and bottom lips to clamp with a more open jaw, and the “aah” helps bring the corners in. I’m not implying that we play all over the horn with the same jaw position. However, starting with the “mmm..aah..ooh” setting facilitates a more resonant sound, one that can better handle productive tension without compromising mechanics. If we start more closed up, we’re going to use more tension than necessary right away, and the playing system won’t be able to handle much more without compromising or forcing something. The “aah” openness requires a shift in how I play and feels weird, but I believe it’s worth the change. Of course, the “ooh” needs to be there as well.
I’d like to thank wild_flower32 very much for this post, which has got me using the “mmm…aah…ooh” again much more regularly, and thinking much more about what it’s for (thanks also for an extra posting from Greg about this). I’ve got a strong tendency to clench and overblow. I’ve found lately that doing a quiet “mmm… ahh… ooh” just before I’m about to take a jazz solo helps remind me of the minimal amount of ‘push’ I actually need in order to be heard, and of the inner feeling of resonance I can experience if I do just back off and let the horn do its own natural resonant thing without over-encouragement from me. And as wild-flower32 has said, a more open jaw, as experienced during the “aah”, does seem to be an important part of this. So thank you for your posting!
Thanks for this post, wild_flower32. I recently discovered that I was also closing my jaw significantly, and I think it is related to my pronunciation. This is an international website, and others may have this same issue based on your language and accent.
When I sang “mmm… ahh… ooh,” I was pronouncing the “ooh” with a sound like the following phonetic:
[uː] you, who, chew, shoe, cool, tool
For my American accent to make these sounds, my jaw would rise unconsciously.
After finding this point of difference, I now sing “mmm… ahh… OOOO” with a long “O” sound. Again with phoentic:
[o:] or [oʊ] go, note, goat, rope
By making this minor change, I noticed my greatest improvement thus far, and I think it is purely an opening of the throat and jaw.