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 Post subject: Improving playing in soft dynamics
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:26 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:30 pm
Posts: 34

A few years ago I posted here a topic " scar issue on upper lip " and thought it happened because of sharp bite mouthpiece.

I visited a known teacher and I was said that I am not using air almost at all.
I was playing only on lip with small amount of air and was surprised why my lips are always swollen next morning.

Now I do not have any more air problems. Horn is ringing and no swollen lips anymore. That " scar tissue " was only present if lips were swollen. But.... I can play only in average and louder dynamics.
In softer dynamics I feel like I do not have strength to hold muscles that creates smaller hole for airstream which is needed to get soft sound.
So now I use so-called air-attacks when its higher range and soft dynamic. Difficult is to start the note. When I am already playing then its easier.

I read from Farkas " Art of French horn playing " that in loud dynamics air does the most work and in soft dynamics mostly lip muscles.

So... how to start improving my muscles? I have tried buzzing on mouthpiece and on BERP. But I am not so sure what I am doing.
Teacher whose I visited, said that if I am buzzing I have to hear sound and also air-sound, which means there is good air-support.

Tried also only free buzzing a bit, but I have heard that its so easy over-do it, so have not tried it too much.

Long story, but perhaps anyone can suggest anything how to gradually build up my muscles?

Thanks is advance!

 Post subject: Re: Improving playing in soft dynamics
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:49 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:35 am
Posts: 172
Location: Cambridgeshire
Don't forget that you do need air in the quiet dynamics so remember to keep blowing so that your embouchure is able to vibrate. No air = no embouchure vibration or 'buzz'. A lot of people allow the important 'oboe reed shaped aperture' (as Farkas calls it) to pinch shut in quiet playing. No aperture = no note.

You need to work at maintaining the open 'oboe reed shaped aperture' while blowing air and allowing (not making) the lip to vibrate or buzz. This is often easier in one area of the horn's register so work in the area which works best and then gradually increase the register from the area which is working well.

Why not work on your mental approach to quiet playing as well. You can look on this aspect of horn playing as being easy. This way you can begin to enjoy playing quietly and be relaxed about it. One more thing. That is where the money is. Everyone is striving to play higher and louder but if they can't play quietly they won't last long in any job.

 Post subject: Re: Improving playing in soft dynamics
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:55 pm
Posts: 318
Location: Home Counties
I know that my embouchure is (and has been, for years) a "work in progress". I often find that I tend to have too much lip in the mouthpiece, and re-setting this allows an aperture to form more easily, as well as preventing excessive tiring of the muscles. The result is that the high register is easier and endurance is improved - but control is more difficult.

I'm working on it!

 Post subject: Re: Improving playing in soft dynamics
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:29 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:47 am
Posts: 73
My guess is that your embouchure is too open and that while you may be using the corners of the embouchure properly that you are not paying sufficient attention to the inner muscles that provide the fine control. Free buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing will only help here if you focus the air like a laser beam. One way to build up the relevant muscles is to do the "pencil trick" but with something much smaller like a toothpick or paperclip (a PDA stylus is ideal, but when was the last time you saw one of those?) to get the sense of creating a really small aperture. The other way (surprise) is to practice as soft as possible in the middle register using the muscles right at the center of the lips to focus the airstream as much as possible. Gradually speed up the air and focus the aperture more to go higher. I hope this helps.

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