Hopefully this will be a quick one as I think I already know the answer, but I’ve noticed my lower jaw sometimes moves back so my teeth aren’t aligned. All the diagrams I’ve ever seen show top and bottom incisors aligned and the MmmAahOooh embouchure set up infers that should happen too, but before I spend a few days training my jaw to stay forward, can you confirm that this is important/relevant/beneficial?
I’ve done a bit of experimentation and it does seem to help, so I’m guessing I’m onto a good thing here!
I think it’s great that you’re focusing on these sensations a bit.
Assuming you’ve got a slight overbight, like most people, then in theory I think you’re right–that your jaw should probably stay more forward.
However, I would avoid trying to make that determination objectively in a vacuum. I think it’s much more important to learn what movements you need to make by objectively observing what happens to your efficiency and quality/resonance of sound when you make movements with your jaw, embouchure, etc.
For me, one of the things that helped me the most with this is focusing intently, patiently, on harmonic slurs–I slowed them down, pausing extemperaneously on notes rather than sticking to the written rhythym…I slowed them way down, pausing on each and every pitch until that pitch felt and sounded right, then I would try to move to the next with minimal movement on consistent passive air (very important to take air out of the equation of changing pitch on harmonic slurs, IMHO).
As long as your jaw moving back isn’t part of a manipulation that you’re reactively making, such as when trying to ascend, then it might not be a problem–in fact, your body may be doing the right thing for YOU.
I had a tendency to keep my jaw back and roll my lip under, bell downward as I ascended. My instructor when I was young would say “roll the bottom lip in”. Now, I know that’s not the way to play. There is a role for the bottom lip/jaw to play, but the key (in my opinion) is to keep everything straight in the mouthpiece and rather than tilting/pivoting up or down too much, keeping everything centered in the air stream and not being afraid to have your lips in front of your incisor teeth (between your teeth and mouthpiece)…I think part of my pivoting and tilting when I was younger was trying to avoid my lips from being scrunched between the mouthpiece and my incisor teeth, but in my opinion it’s important for that to happen–the lips (in my opinion) contract towards the mouthpiece as the aperture corners are engaged and the aperture reduces inwards.
As you get used to this, it feels much easier and natural and (in my opinion) is simpler/logical. There is, at times, a sensation of “gripping” the mouthpiece with your embouchure as the lips contract forward towards the mouthpiece / around the air column.
One key is to avoid the tendency to tighten the throat/engage the body as you ascend–for me, around a middle C or E on the staff is a point in which I need to get past without engaging the throat /tightening up as I ascend, then it’s just a matter of gradually allowing the aperture to shrink slightly/gradually as you ride the air upwards. When things are going well, the lips are responding to/reacting / interacting with the air and I’m simply not doing anything more to get in the way.
re jaw I have been moving forward a touch and it seems to help. My idea is that there has to be pressure somewhere so i am absorbing it in the “bite zone” so as my jaw is a touch forward so that teeth aligned I can also very slightly bring my back teeth together(more tense them than close them) so I feel tension in the muscle circlce around the lips and the jaw and everywhere else feels totally relaxed. yesterday at 7pm my notes above the staff were coming out so easily and reasonant I made myself stop for the day and enjoy that coffee time feeling! (By the way I got this feeling when I stopped feeling about lips jaws anything and just played the music – when I was in this mode I didn’t even register what my jaw was doing.. maybe it was forward and tensed at the back or maybe it was just those exercises earlier in the day that helped – sorry not to be more specific)
re Johnelwoods ideas of less tension and being ready to fail what i have also done in the last few weeks is the idea of playing a phrase of music with high notes in it on as little air as possible. (whereas my old reflex when seeing a high line of music tended to be the opposite – focus in getting in as much air as possible) I breath in ..then start the relaxed exhale sigh and then start to play – impossible to play with overblow induced tension in this set up mode.
Hi both, thanks for your thoughts. It seems to be the lower notes that make my jaw move back so it’s not the same as what John used to do on higher notes. I think what I need to do is more like what Steve describes. If I play low notes with a recessed jaw, then try to go up a couple of octaves, my chops are in the wrong set up, so keeping my teeth aligned means that there’s much less movement in my lips over the same 2 octaves. Yesterday’s experimentation suggested that there might also be an improvement in tone and control, so it’s definitely something worth sticking with for a bit to see where it takes me. Thanks!