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#1 2010-06-03 17:50:11

From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030

What's the best approach?

I'm sure anyone who's studied almost any Western instrument with a teacher has been taught that the way to tackle fast passages is to practice them slow enough that you can play them without mistakes and slowly work up to speed. A lot of the reasoning behind this method is that by practicing slowly you make fewer mistakes and therefore do not reinforce mistakes by repeating them too many times.

This idea sounds very good to me but I ran into a dilemma with a tone exercise, specifically sasa-buki, going from as soft as I can get to as loud as I can get and back to very soft. The problem is that to find out how loud I can get, I pretty much have to let the tone break to test the limits. What ends up happening is that once the tone breaks I'm not able to replicate what I did to try again only up to the loudness that I know will cause a break, and I end up consistently pushing too hard and inadvertently practicing breaking the tone. I found a reasonable solution to that one, that is to start on the highest otsu where I can blow just about as hard as I can without breaking, and slowly work down to the lower notes.

But, there are other exercises where I run into similar problems that I haven't found a good solution. One is to begin a note very softly in kan. There the goal is to find just the minimum pressure to get the note to sound in kan but not any more than that because if I did it wouldn't be starting as soft as possible. I can't think of a way around this one because the "easy notes" for this exercise can still be messed up fairly easily. The only way to assure that I'm going to get the note to start correctly is to play a loud enough that I know for sure the note will sound in kan, but many times I know I'm not starting as soft as I could because when I play the note sasa-buki, by the time I get to the end I'm able to get it to go quieter than it started.

So, the question is, what's the best approach to these kind of situations? Would it be best to approach it from the side where I'll need repeated attempts at the note not working correctly to try to find the correct pressure (and risk practicing a  mistake)? Or would it be best to overshoot and approach from the side of where I know the note will sound and risk practicing sloppy playing (not really starting soft enough)?

"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580



#2 2010-06-04 05:24:01

Christopher B.
From: Berlin, Germany
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 235

Re: What's the best approach?

I can tell you with my limited expierence that you can start with softer lips and increase the preasure also to get the tone louder and then "just" loose your lips again for a smooth end. I think there is no need to blow harder it has alot to do with preasure I think in. When I inhalate much air into my belly and try to keep the preasure the sound gets louder and it sounds much smoother.

In Kan I thin it haves alot to do with developing you lips, I noticed in the beginning it was so hard to get to Kan and now I still have some problems but I need much less energie to get into kan.

I also practice everything slowly to memorize the faster passages and then I try to get them faster. I noticed that you get a feeling for the differen passages if you practice them often, it is a kind of flow then if you perfom the whole piece.

So I think its all about right breathing and muscle controle on your lips.

Last edited by Christopher B. (2010-06-04 05:49:00)

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