Greg and all,
Just a few thoughts on my experiences (mostly for my own benefit). I have struggled with range, endurance and sound my whole playing experience. I was always under the impression (from teachers, other players and watching other players) that range and endurance were derived from strength. So, I developed all the bad habits without anyone correcting me, even through college and beyond; unnecessary abdomen kicking, tension in the neck and shoulders, chocking off, overblowing which led to lip clamping and a “smiling” embouchure, which led to mouthpiece pressure, and more blowing and clamping and so on.
About a year ago I started finding videos by players talking about how endurance and range were not related to strength, but was a technique to be learned, and that in actuality, it took less air to play in the upper register than in the lower register. As some of these players related their stories of their journeys, they sounded just like mine; one full of frustration. However, their successes seemed to be individual, and a structured pathway to overcome these issues was missing.
Then I came upon MTM. Greg’s “system” is very helpful. Just giving names to things, like the “valsalva maneuvere” and “focal dystonia” has been eye opening. As soon as I saw the video on valsalva I recognized it as the way I attempt the upper register, and why my sound was always thin and sharp. Identifying it, even by name, helps me work on reversing it. The the other day I saw Greg’s video on focal dystonia and psychological triggers. With that in mind, I sat down to play and determine if I had any unconscious triggers. I realized the moment I sat down, my abdomen tightened, for no reason. I hadn’t even picked up the horn yet. I relaxed and picked up the horn. As soon as I began to place the horn on my chops, and before I even took a breath, my stomach began to tighten again. So, now I go through a routine, just as a golfer goes through a pre-swing routine, to teach myself not to tighten up.
Thanks, Greg. I can now see a pathway ahead, even if the road may be long, it is still laid out and paved for me.
Hey Bob, to some that might seem like an unimportant discovery. I am so very pleased you recognise why it is so important on many levels.