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#1 2011-02-03 12:47:07

Galactic Dog
Registered: 2010-04-29
Posts: 10

Tight facial muscles

When forming a proper embouchure how much tension is in the face?  After many many months of practice my teacher says I need a more focused air stream.



#2 2011-02-03 13:15:56

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

Re: Tight facial muscles

Hmm well, if your teacher say it it must be right you can practice that by moving your lips closer together while playing and then make a wider embroucher and make a biger "smile" and again you will notice after some weeks how that affect the sound and it will also train your muscles and develop tension. The first days you can practice with a mirror to see what your lips and face a doing but after some time you will develope a feeling for the muscles used.

!Warning! I am also a beginner and try to ask your teacher also how you can work on that !Warning!



In reality it is Ha,Ro,Ha,Ro... ~Sensei~
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#3 2011-02-03 13:58:04

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

Re: Tight facial muscles

Galactic Dog wrote:

When forming a proper embouchure how much tension is in the face?  After many many months of practice my teacher says I need a more focused air stream.

How much facial tension is this player using? (they show the embouchure at about 1 minute in):

I think you don't need much. If more focused means making a smaller opening, you need to be asking your teacher how you can accomplish that. Maybe facial tension does that, but I personally try to keep my face relaxed but toned. You know how you can hold your arm out but still have it relaxed, the muscles are activated but relaxed at the same time.

Last edited by radi0gnome (2011-02-03 13:59:20)

"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



#4 2011-02-03 19:48:40

Jeff Cairns
teacher, performer,promoter of shakuhachi
From: Kumamoto, Japan
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 517

Re: Tight facial muscles

Glactic Dog: Many months of practice are usually what is needed to come to the stage that focused air stream is a conquerable issue.  Never underestimate the need for a controllable and focused embouchure.  And that is what should be discussed; not facial tension.  How one achieves the end result may not be dissimilar to the way that others do it, but everybody needs to experiment in order to achieve any given end.  If you have a teacher then you might consciously try to mimic your teacher's facial expression.  I've certainly seen all kinds of facial applications, all the way from the Popeye-side shot to the placid and apparently undisturbed Buddha-face, with similarly good results (though some  admittedly add an element of comedy to the process.)  Understand the mechanics of a focused air stream and set out to do that through experimentation, but always understand that those mechanics must be achievable in relation to the demands of other techniques as they are called for within the context of playing.  You are dealing with a river and not a lot of stagnant puddles.

Last edited by Jeff Cairns (2011-02-03 19:49:00)

shakuhachi flute
I step out into the wind
with holes in my bones



#5 2011-02-05 09:33:08

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922

Re: Tight facial muscles

Jeff's answer is very good! Well explained!
So I will just add that you need no particular facial muscle tension as such (some might need more facial tension than others and we certainly  all have some). What you should be experimenting are how to narrow the air stream, size of hole, where your air hit the flute and then shapes of lips, mouth and throat - the latter three areas might require some tension. But as we are all differently built, you have to find your own way with the guidance of your teacher. I have had many students passing by and everyone of them needed individual guidance. For some it is easier and for others... but with perseverance you'll get there! smile

I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music



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