I just had an eye opening experience and one I would recommend to everyone at some point (about the time you think you are getting all this!).
I did a Skype with Greg late last week and I have seen some real benefit thus far. I was thinking that I was playing absolutely freely with no push until I did my harmonic slurs from staff e to g above staff. And then I thought that the push was very slight. Since I started the program I had noticed great improvement in sound and was starting to feel that the fullness of my tone was starting to come back, not as good as in ’67, but I wasn’t 67 in ’67 either. We started with a nice talk to get to know each other a bit, and then he asked me to show him how I started my day, show him my routine. I had picked up a little of the routine and incorporated it somewhat into the start of my day. To my dismay I discovered that some of the things I had been shown in the course had not soaked in. Greg discovered that I was hitching my breath at the top of the inhale (stopping my breath) and when beginning the exhale again (supposedly passive) I was not passive but noticeably active which started the note with tension. This seems a very small thing and I thought it was when I 1st felt it (first became aware I was doing it) but it is something I can work on even when Im not playing. By taking a CH breath, holding breath and then speaking I can tell from the tension of the voice if I am tensing and forcing, and it seems to be correcting itself slowly. The idea of working it when not on the horn will accelerate the correction I feel. The thing that totally surprised me about this was that even though I really try to work deep on these concepts and I do close my eyes and do everything Greg tells me, and have had a fair bit of experience with meditation, I hadn’t felt this at the middle G to middle c which was where it began (never a problem with the singing C as it seems my naturally purest note). I now understand that if its not as easy as the low C I still have work to do, and that the work is very basic.
The big takeaway for me was not something we talked specifically about but something I just hadn’t picked up on yet. I have been working on efficient play for 2 .5 years, but I had not picked up that mouth shape must lead. And maybe Im ahead of myself now, but leading with shape (making it my 1st priority) for some reason is keeping me from putting push into play. I still have push jump in but it seems to be more and more on those notes I don’t have shape down on yet. I am also finding (or thinking) that these shape manipulations seem very small compared to what I thought it would require. I find when I concentrate on forming the note with the face some (negative) things (or the need for them) seem to go away.
Anyway everyone will have their own path but a check in with Greg brought me back on course and got me back in a positive direction (Its a small but important thing I probably wouldn’t have caught). I think Im going to plug into Greg every couple/few months to do a sound/THOUGHT check – I got a huge amount of understanding and insight from this lesson and it is not like your typical Skype lesson since we are already focused on specific methods.
Thanks Rod, was great meeting you and talking it all through. You’ve heard the line before – “critical awareness of the problem is half the solution” – stick with it, you are well on your way. Cheers, Greg