Refining notes

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In my lesson with Patrick yesterday I made a significant discovery: if I keep my jaw relaxed and in its natural position instead of jamming it forward, I can refine my embouchure using my bottom lip (instead of clamping down with the top lip) to just the right pressure – from there I can angle the flute for best, most focussed edge, and find the point of resonance (‘wasabi’!). The result is the pure, unpolluted, ringing tone I have been trying desperately to find, and was beginning to think my headjoint was keeping from me.

My practise has made big steps in the last little while (despite there being very little of it – I am still suffering pain in throat and now ear, perhaps due to too much fiddling around with this yesterday), and now I am adding this exercise in note refinement in five minute bursts regularly throughout each day. In fact, any time I have a spare five minutes and a practise room, this is what I will do. On long tones up or down a major scale, or falling chromatic lines, or a simple melody. This is in place of (relatively) mindless trawling through long hours of exercises – Moyse, Dick, Wye, Richter, Lukas-Graf… Not that I will ditch these exercises, just spend a greater amount of time refining the note before I graduate onto these.

The key lies, I think, in the jaw position and the use of the lower lip. With this position I am more open and relaxed in my mouth, throat and neck. Now, if I could only work out some good cue to free my neck…

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