I feel like sharing a great moment I had yesterday while re-watching the course again. Enjoy!
First a little history. For the longest time, I’ve always had trouble getting rid of the clamp in my playing. It has been a very persistent issue dating back to my first years on the tuba back in grade 7. I always had trouble making a clean, big sound no matter what I did. That very buzzy, nasally sound persisted. The music directors I had always said the same sort of thing like “more air” or “buzz more on the mouthpiece.” It didn’t work for me and if anything made things worse. My lips were in a lot of pain after playing, hurting days afterwards and I remember crying on the bus rides home because I knew something was wrong with my playing but I didn’t know what it was or how to fix it. Eventually I found my way to Windworks and has been a true godsend.
I’ve been working my way slowly and very carefully through the course doing my best to let go of any expectations of results as expectations will almost always lead to reinforcing our old habit as I did make the mistake early in the course rushing through it missing a lot of information. Because of this the problem of clamping persisted despite doing mmahooh exercise. However, on my 5th rerun of the course on the Andante level, I noticed that teeth and jaw were closing every time I did mmahooh exercise without even knowing it. Now knowing this, I closed my eyes and did the finger exercise to prevent my jaw from closing as I brought my corners in and then did it again except with the visualizer and no finger. What a difference! That opening is enormous and feels totally different from how I’ve always done it and I can sense the 1.0 wiring of my brain freaking out but that’s ok. I’ll get there one day at a time.
There is a silver lining to the clamping fiasco believe or not lol.
Because of this very sneaky an persistent clamping issue, I was able to correct a lot of other bad habit I developed over the years such as a rounded and hunched posture, shallow breaths (that and very constricted breathing habits like raising my chest and shoulders to inhale then later “belly breathing” forcing my abdomen out to inhale which created a ton of strain in my body, a lot of unnecessary abdominal activation to play higher and louder, overblowing, and choking in the throat to play higher. Yes I know I basically had every bad habit under the sun but at least now I know what these bad habits feel like so I can feel the difference when I’m actually doing it correctly.
Moral of the story don’t be me and rush through the course and always do these exercises eyes closed. Even then it can be easy to overlook things even when eyes are closed. Also recognize that change is gradual and will happen over time. Just like what The Cleaner from Toy Story 2: “You can’t rush art.”
Hope you enjoyed my long post and I hope it helps!
REPLY FROM GREG:
You have eloquently outlined the reason I have grey hair my friend!
Everyone needs to experience what you have presented here but most doubt the course PROCESS rather than their “illusion of competence!”.
There are many elements here to synchronise and conscious awareness of everything you are doing is paramount.
Thanks for taking the time share, I’m sure others will benefit from your experience.
Awesome! Yep–been there, done that. Our brain is our biggest obstacle sometimes. Unless we manage to remain objective and casually observe what we’re experiencing without any emotional attachment to the result, we won’t learn from our “experiments”.
Glad it’s going good for you. Every lap through the course has taught me even more than before.
I stopped counting how many laps I’ve done. It happens less and less anymore, but when I used to start struggling again, feeling like my playing started going backwards for some unknown reason, I would start over and it would get me out of my “funk”. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened for quite some time.
I’ve had several more coffee moments over the past month and it is rather exciting.
I got my first sympathetic oscillation on the leadpipe yesterday and it felt really weird (in a good way). I felt my whole mouth (even my tongue) vibrating because of how much sound was being produced and with such ease (100 % passive release).
The tricks that got my sympathetic oscillation happening was making sure I engaging my aperture corners and not my mouth corners; something I was initially confused about in the course. To do this I did that V for victory thing Greg has mentioned a few times but instead put on my mouth corners to make sure they weren’t pulling inward and I was surprised by how much an of a difference it was. It wasn’t a pucker but there was inward movement for sure. I could fit my index finger between my teeth. Even for a tuba player that is a big opening. This wasn’t the end as I found my airstream was also too low. It wasn’t shooting downwards straight to the floor but it was hitting the lower part of the tissue I noticed and wasn’t going very high. so I brought my jaw ever so slightly forward and made sure not to roll in my lower lip and the tissue blew straight up really high and all I did was release. my brain was telling me that there’s no way in hell that I can play a note with that kind of opening. But I gave it a shot anyway and the note exploded out the leadpipe and with basically no effort.
Of course I didn’t try to make it happen again and I just reflected on what just happened. Also that nagging 1.0 wiring went silent when the note exploded on the leadpipe which is a relief.
If I’m not mistaken I think I got my first sympathetic oscillation on my first year anniversary of Windworks which is a pretty cool coincidence. One year of replacing those old bad habits like shallow breathing, clamping and also an incredible amount of deep awareness to get a sympathetic oscillation. Old habits really do die hard.