In an attempt to develop a better mental model when it comes to lip slurs (moving the corners inwards and keeping the jaw down):
What is the ideal space between the top and bottom teeth? (1-2cm; 1 index finger?)
Does this space change depending on the register and in what ways?
Should the the aperture concerns sit forward in front, and within the space between the top and bottom teeth?
I find my jaw has a mind of its own and I can’t control it enough to keep the space consistent while doing lip slurs from low to high registers. I believe this blocking lip slur speed and ultimately range. I often attempt to open the space, it feels open, the lips are open, but then checking in the mirror after doing lip slurs reveals the space has narrowed from where it was at the start of the lip slur exercises. I am achieving the characteristic sound when doing the lip slurs. It is exceedingly hard to detect any tension in the jaw when it raises. I suspect the jaw prefers to be in its natural resting place and therefore the space closes. Forming the lips with Oooo helps bring the lips forward but doesn’t always result in the space between the teeth remaining opening.
Any thoughts on the mental model and practical tips for keeping the space between the teeth open would be welcomed.
I noticed your post a few days ago and was waiting (and hoping) for someone with more experience in the course than I to respond.
Since that has not happened I am happy to give you my opinion on the matter, for what it is worth. I am not a pro player, nor am I a teacher or academic who has had a lot of exposure to great teachers or professional musicians, but I have played for many years and have had about 6 months experience in this course.
I believe there is not one right position of the jaw or teeth. Since all humans are a little different I think we served better by focusing on sensations/feelings and results.
For example, I am a downstream player with a slightly receded jaw when playing. When working on the Windworks exercises, I have been working on bringing my lower jaw more forward while also striving to keep my throat more open. I then monitor my sound when not doing pure process exercises and adjust and experiment to see what produces the best sound. Completing the course exercises, using what I will call this Windworks setup, combined with trying not to overblow and over engage the core, has brought me better results in my old set up with the Windworks setup still not feeling secure enough to use when playing.
With all that said, I would answer your inquiry by saying that perhaps you should not focus on the teeth position, but focus on an open throat and reduced core engagement. This may keep you more relaxed and therefore lower the tendency to close your jaw. As Greg would say, keep the foyer and body’s concert open and resonant. I find if I focus on openness, my aperture corners, and the resonance of the sound I am creating, that my jaw naturally moves to where it should be. The jaw opens slightly for lower notes and closes up slightly for higher notes as the corners of the aperture tighten. I do not think specifically about the gap between my teeth when playing and this seems to be working for me.
I hope you find my comments helpful and wish you success with the course.
Thanks Pat for your thoughts I will consider them further.
Since I wrote the original post I have had time to question my own thinking further. I went through the Largo videos again and found connection with the Largo Upper Register Development videos and the related upper register development videos in the other levels. What struck me as important in these videos was the easy responsive buzz of Greg’s lips to the airflow. I found mimicking this difficult to do initially but then it came very responsive. This I believe was the result of the space between the teeth being wider and the lips losing their stiffness.
So now even the slight airflow causes the lips to vibrate when lightly placing the finger tips on the aperture corners. I also obtained that octave jump spoken about when the finger, rim and mouthpiece are place on or taken off the lips. I believe I have had started to maximise the sympathetic oscillation. Just in general playing this approach has opened the sound and I am achieving greater flexibility. I am hopeful this approach, particularly reducing lip stiffness, will allow the aperture corners to form and move more easily and the jaw will as a consequence relax. More experimentation and practice to come.
Hey Ryan, the “Milk Spout” idea, the finger nail between the teeth and aperture corners in is a way to find something approximating the ideal gap. I used to have this issue BIG TIME!
Finding the SHAPE after ascending is one of the trickiest challenges of playing the horn. If you think mathematically/mechanically about this, each note has it’s own SHAPE so therefore changing between the two SHAPE’s should be easy… “Look How Easy It Isnt” (John Wooden, famous basketball coach!)
Familiarity and repetition whilst maintaining freedom and fluidity is the challenge that we all face. Don’t be down on yourself, this is the process of learning.
Start with small intervals, EYES CLOSED, and be sure that you are centering the lower note; and I’m talking playing an interval of a minor 2nd, 2nd, minor 3rd etc etc. Gradual development of SHAPE awareness will develop.