Tagged: harmonic slurs.
I restarted Windworks in late December working through the MTM Ebooks (Book 1 primarily) I purchased a number of years ago. Also I began the Largo trial series and loved it so much that I signed up for the Windworks program in January. Since then I have been diligently working and reworking through the lessons. My “10 minute” introductory chat with Greg (which he generously extended to over 30 minutes) was helpful in encouraging me to firm my aperture corners more to produce notes at middle C and above. Since that breakthrough (THanks again Greg!!), I was making what I thought was good progress until I arrived at the Presto singing C “F” series. Particularly I am working on the harmonic slurs and really struggling to do them quickly and cleanly. I have gone back to the largo, adagio and andante levels to work through videos and exercises again a couple of times and still the slurs are eluding me.
I have noticed a lot of motion in my lip slurs on the lower notes where the intervals are wider, particularly in the jaw tongue and lips; far more than what is apparent in Greg’s video demonstrations. I am wondering if that is part of the problem.
I am currently trying to get the lower lip more in the “milk spout” position and think it may be helping as I seem to be able to sense the aperture and the corners more clearly with the jaw more forward and the lower lip slightly overlapping (or positioned outside) the upper lip.
I searched the forum but did not find any similar posts so I thought I would venture into this environment for the first time since I joined the course.
I would greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions my fellow members may have.
Hi Patrick, thanks for posting as this sounds similar to “problems” (development opportunities) I’m finding. What works well for me is the ‘milk spout’ aperture and also the 2 fingers placed vertically to strengthen the pull-in of the mouth corners. I’m not sure whether I’m forming the aperture correctly, but I do find that by getting the mouth/lip corners held tightly in an “in” position, the ‘milk spout’ shape forms naturally and note/lip flexibility is then easy. Controlling the aperture corners is easier, I deduce, because the lip ‘corners’ are stable (at least in my case if only temporarily).
However, I think the issue I’m having is that having previously always played (on-and-off for 45 years) without any thought of keeping the lip corners firm and using the aperture corners to flex the pitch, I find my ability to keep the spout shape in place is really hard (it can go in a few seconds). I recently started to focus on this positioning much more and it is helping, but I’m now finding what I think is a lactic acid build up in the jaw ‘hinge’ area. I’m rather hoping this is showing that I’m doing something right, but possibly only time will tell. Its difficult to know how much to push the strengthening exercises and how much to just let the strength come naturally, but as gigging and band/orch rehearsing is now coming back I need to have some playing chops however they work.
Thanks for your response. It sounds like we are pushing through the same issues. I also have jaw fatigue and some pain at times as I have had TMJ problems in the past. Also my regular embouchure has a slightly receded jaw setting so I am sure the jaw muscles are not used to the more forward set up when trying to stay in the “milk spot position”. I have found as you mentioned some success in this position as the air stream seems very focused and the slurs are easier, but like you have not been able to maintain it. I think your comment about strengthening is valid. I will focus on this and continue to work on the presto F and F# exercises. I would like stay in touch to share our experiences. Good luck.
Hi Patrick, Big breakthrough recently and I am now finding that I can keep the milk spout held through exercises. A long way to go of course but something suddenly seems to have taken shape. Still have some pain but it is going and so I think it was just an unusual use of undeveloped muscles in the face/jaw. I now notice that although I’m not pushing the exercise range much (still on Singing C – G above stave) at the end of exercises the note is easily able to slur past high C without any pushing. Small steps but an occasional leap has certainly helped mentally as for a while I kept apparently going around in progress circles. Keep it up.
Just practicing and noticed your new post. It is great to hear your encouraging news. I sometimes find I get discouraged but I am determined to trust this process (which I believe in) despite the bumps along the way. Hearing about your progress is very reassuring and is appreciated.
I think my experience with the milk spout position is similar to yours. It feels like the lower lip is really extended but I like the fact that I can feel the airstream and that it seems to enhance flexibility. As with most things in the oral cavity, a small change feels really big.
I too occasionally find I miss a note on the high side and some thin B’s or Eb’s (second valve) pop out with amazing ease.
I am still working on the Singing C F# exercises and particularly the Practice Progress Chart harmonic slurs. I am finding that the slower tempo slurs below say 90bpm difficult for me to maintain and yet at 100bpm the slurs are much easier to maintain. I have not made it to 20 seconds (got to 15 seconds today but sound was degrading quickly) or tried any faster tempos yet as I find jaw fatigue sets in quickly. This seems contrary to what I feel I should be experiencing but this is uncharted water for me so it is what it is.
Lets stay in touch as I for one would appreciate the interaction and sharing of experiences. I am finding this forum is not very active so hearing from you has been very motivating for me to stay on the path.
I have been struggling with the progressive Harmonic Slur progress chart exercises at the F# and G level and continued to stick with the process, going back over the F# and G singing C exercises and also moved forward to do some of the Ascending Harmonic exercises which are scheduled after the G harmonic skills. I did lots of experimenting with different lip and jaw positions and lots of eyes closed long tones as well.
As my colleague PaulHolly suggested I have be really focusing on the rolled out lower lip (“milk spout” feel) and today it appeared to pay some dividends as I was able to make it through all the F# & G harmonic slurs for 20 seconds up to 100 beats per minute.
Still lots of work to do, but the reason I am posting is not to boast, but to assure all Windworks members that it certainly appears that if you trust the process, as Greg has said, that you can overcome the adversity present when relearning how to produce sound efficiently on this instrument (as I am).
Be aware that I am still a huge “work in process” and still have a long way to go, but I will take this interim victory and try to build further off of it.
Hopefully this post will encourage others to stick with the program and keep moving forward, even if it feels like baby steps at times.