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My Stability Workouts

If you are seeing this page, it means I sent it to you. Since I am starting what appears to be a 5th phase shift (a new pattern of coordination of the muscles in my face such that the new pattern is significantly different- The difference is enough to cause changes to my stability numbers, etc.) I thought I would document this journey to provide a reference for what it looks like when I do the exercises. I hope you find this information helpful. Please do not share- this is for YOU! Exercises are posted with the most recent placed first.

Day 1991--I’m always fascinated by the difference between Bb1 and B1. Typically “pedal Bb” is a very open note, and Bb is on the double trigger and one of the most resistant notes on the horn. My hypothesis has always been that the free buzzing would track in a predictable curve relative to air flow and breath capacity, however, the counts on the horn would be different. This used to be true, but as I have gained more facial stability, the ratios on H have balanced out to track on a similar curve- meaning whatever resistance the horn provides can be overcome through efficient playing. Good to know! In today’s workout, F-B1 was spit-tastic again, and right around 3:30 I literally started to drool. This seems to happen with microfatigue. Either the end of the phrase means a build-up of saliva in the mouth, or microfatigue brings a bigger gape in the aperture, which acts like an open faucet for the saliva. Probably both. Sound quality is much improved on H-B1. It is good to hear how sharp I blow- good learning for the future. Here I accidentally started F-C3 an octave too high and realized after about 30 seconds. Oops. No biggie- still a good buzz. H-C3 was drastically less counts than I had anticipated, but as I reflect on the chart, it seems like I have an increase in tone quality and a decrease in air usage. Just imagine when I gain the efficiency back! CHECK THIS OUT! During F-Db4 I decided to turn to a side profile and quickly alternate between the ‘jaw back’ and ‘jaw forward’ approach. Right at 16:20 I turn to the side and move my jaw forward. I noticed a dew things- first, it killed the buzz. Second, my depressor muscles changed their level of engagement as a reaction to the shift. It’s an entirely different coordination pattern. Third- the buzz after this moment really clarified, and I felt a good burn of fatigue in this set. I can’t wait until I can just stay ‘jaw forward’. Fun fact- I had a conversation with Toby Oft (Principal Trombone in the BSO) and he was telling me about how he had to re-train his face after an accident. One of the things he made sure to demonstrate was he pulled out a visualizer rim and buzzed for me. He brought his jaw back, and then forward while buzzing. He explained how ‘sorting that out’ was crucial for his playing and I REMEMBER seeing the same shift in depressor muscles as I have with my face. How many years until I’m in the BSO!?!? I was so into this moment of buzzing Db4 that I accidentally did 1 minute too much. Oops. In the 19th minute, you can see/hear how I am trying to keep my jaw forward during H-Db4. It’s crazy to see in the face! The sound gets super-fuzzy and I start to get the face trembles right around count 75 or so. DURING THE COMMENTARY I explain how there seems to be a pattern of getting to 80’s, then phase shift, then either I lack the strength/endurance and the numbers tank, or the aperture is more open (more resonant sound, but less efficiency) so the numbers tank. The tube seems to take care of the oxygen issue, which leaves me with the air or face issue, depending on the context. This is becoming a predictable pattern of development for me as well as a few clients. It will be interesting to see if it happens with all of my long-term clients.

 

F-B1-4:00 from 0:00 to 4:00

H-B1-4:00 from 5:00 to 9:00

F-C3-2:00 from 10:00 to 12:00

H-C3-2:00 from 13:00 to 15:00

F-Db4-1:00 from 16:00-18:00 (oops- 1 minute too long)

H-Db4-1:00 from 19:00 to 20:00

Commentary starting at 20:00

Day 1989 -I really struggled with getting the buzz to start up in the beginning of F-Bb1 but eventually settled. It’s a high flow-rate, so there is more saliva that escapes my mouth. You’ll see me quickly dab my lips with a paper towel during the breath count to prevent from spitting all over my phone. The aperture is much more centered than it used to be, so that’s good! I was encouraged by H-Bb1 because normally my cheeks puff out a little, but I have much more buccinator engagement, which is contributing to a more consistent and round sound. Here it’s all about gauging the breath out. Headging becomes obvious in terms of the change in tone quality. There is a constant dance around the line of acceptability.  F-B2 was a constant struggle to ride the line. There is something magical about working the limits. Any softer and I’d lose the sound. There is a great moment where I point to symmetrical muscles in my face (indicating where I feel fatigue)- it was great because the fatigue was symmetrical, but also seemed to correlate with a little pitch inconsistency. H-B2 was fine. I mis-paced the breath a tiny bit and paid for it, but that’s not grounds for decreasing the ratios. I could tell I would have been fine. F-C4 had some awful grit, double buzz, etc. but I held the counts well- strength gains will lead to the face figuring it out! H-C4 was fine. A little grit but a good day’s work!

In the commentary- I talk specifically about how the location of vibration changes as I develop strength in the face, therefore jaw more forward. It’s a common issue for wind players!

F-Bb1-4:00 from 0:00 to 4:00

H-Bb1-4:00 from 5:00 to 9:00

F-B2-2:00 from 10:00 to 12:00

H-B2-2:00 from 13:00 to 15:00

F-C4-1:00 from 16:00 to 17:00

H-C4-1:00 from 18:00 to 19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1987 -F-C3 sounds gritty- and for now I still stand behind the notion that if I make my face stronger, and it ‘forces’ my face to buzz with a certain set-up, then my lips will slowly figure out how to buzz in that specific location. A more interesting question might be “how long will it take?” Fantastic Double buzzing on Db4 as well, but on Db it eventually settled into a more efficient buzz. You can see I applied a little moisture from my spray bottle, which changed the vibration quality, but it was very temporary. Still an awful buzz. The beginning of H-Db4 was also ROUGH, but sometimes that happens. The sound sorted itself out soon enough. You can hear a fantastic shift into a more pure tone relatively early in the set. It’s like this pitch is right on the cusp for me- and that makes sense given the quality of free buzz in this range. Some real struggle toward the end of H-Db4 too- right around 12 minutes. That’s the sound of me trying to keep my jaw forward. D5 is still a compromised set-up, but good to develop strength- the re-coordination will eventually come! H-D5 is still a fantastic crash and burn, but it is getting better!

 

F-C3-1:00 starting at 0:00 to 1:00

H-C3-1:00 starting at 2:00 to 3:00

F-Db4-4:00 starting at 4:00 to 8:00

H-Db4-4:00 starting at 9:00 to 13:00

F-D5-2:00 starting at 14:00 to 16:00

H-D5-2:00 starting at 17:00 to 19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1985 -I have been introducing the breathing tube into my over-breathing and I think it ultimately will help me take a deeper breath, which will help the oxygen debt. I also noticed that the air feels cooler when it hits the back of my throat than it does when I breath without the tube. I think that is a good indication that the tube is promoting a deeper breath because the air doesn’t have time to get warmed up on the way in (because the volume is greater). We’ll see the results play out over the next several workouts but for now I think it’s a win. During the free buzzing, I always point to the specific locations that I feel the fatigue. It’s fascinating to go back and watch these and re-live those moments. When I am in the moment, I don’t have the same perspective, and when I am watching later I can pay attention to what I see/hear on the video. Amazing- it’s just like listening back to a recording! On H-C4-4:00, I think my jaw is moving forward more successfully, which is causing a more open sound, which is costing more air. I think it’s all part of the process. Over time I will gain efficiency and the counts will go back up, but for now they are about 20 clicks lower than I expected- ultimately a good sign! I’m still not strong enough for Db, but pennies in the jar-this is a long-term relationship!

 

F-B2-1:00 starting at 0:00 to 1:00

H-B2-1:00 starting at 2:00 to 3:00

F-C4-4:00 starting at 4:00 to 8:00

H-C4-4:00 starting at 9:00 to 13:00

F-Db5-2:00 starting at 14:00 to 16:00

H-Db5-2:00 starting at 17:00 to 19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1983 -Overall a solid workout, with little fanfare or epiphany. Sometimes the workouts are not glamorous, but they provide the work necessary to move forward. I was a little too ambitious with some of the volumes and ended up tanking the last few counts. It happens. It’s not worth dropping the numbers for it, I just need to pace better. After looking at my chart, I have decided to leave H-B3-4:00 at 80,1 and see if I can gain efficiency. Given the rest of the chart, I don’t think it is necessary to drop it (and that is an important point- estimating trajectories of trend lines are not just ‘fill-in-the-blanks’. There are all sorts of larger contextual factors worth considering when determining where to put the numbers. And the more I do these exercises, the more I feel like I know how to ‘read’ the chart in a way that places the ratios well. I am starting to understand why my students really struggled to do it on their own. I guess that started this whole thing… onward!

 

F-Bb2-1:00 starting at 0:00 to 1:00

H-Bb2-1:00 starting at 2:00 to 3:00

F-B3-4:00 starting at 4:00 to 8:00

H-B3-4:00 starting at 9:00 to 13:00

F-C5-2:00 starting at 14:00 to 16:00

H-C5-2:00 starting at 17:00 to 19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1981 -Lot’s of curiosity today. I babbled on about oxygen exchange ratios. SO many questions. Time to study deep-sea divers and respiratory physiology publications. The human body is fascinating! In terms of the workout today, I was happy with the amount of ‘beef’ I was able to put on F-Ab2 and still make the phrase, even with 80 beats. I was also happy with the H-Ab2 in that the counts are getting closer to the free buzz numbers. Another first was in the F-A3-4:00. I felt an equal distribution of buccinator microfatigue on each side. It came on simultaneously for the first time ever! That’s an indication of muscular symmetry! I was remarking to Jean the other day (who made an audio cameo today) that even my smile looks more symmetrical and I think it is a byproduct of the stability training. Really encouraging, and I wonder if that means that I’m ‘done’ with phase shifting in the mid-register. We’ll see- gut says no but time will tell. On the H-Bb3-4:00 I tried to employ the concept that slower but deeper breaths would provide more oxygen (see commentary at the end) and it seems to hold true. Rather than taking a bunch of quick aggressive breaths where the top 10% of lung capacity is missed, it is better to take breaths that are slower but utilize a truly 100% breath in terms of Oxygen exchange. This is important to know! B4 is not where I want it to be, but I think the key is increasing the counts to develop strength, knowing that there will be a phase shift at some point.

 

F-A2-1:00 starting from 0:00 to 1:00

H-A2-1:00 starting from 2:00 to 3:00

F-Bb3-4:00 starting from 4:00 to 8:00

H-Bb3-4:00 starting from 9:00 to 13:00

F-B4-2:00 starting from 14:00 to 16:00

H-B4-2:00 starting from 17:00 to 19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1979 -I’m starting to recognize that I might experience phase shifts in different parts of my range at different times. I might also experience more phase shifts in certain parts of my range. Discovering this through practice has provided me with a ‘well of course’ depth of understanding that I also imagine doesn’t come as easily through the front door of a teacher telling a student. “You have to experience it” also makes a ton of sense to me. Overall a great workout. TONS of microfatigue. It’s so challenging to create moments in our playing where we get the right kind of fatigue for growth. We don’t want to play so much that we challenge the wrong muscles (the ones that are already over-helping the situation). We don’t want them to get stronger because they will continue to overhelp- they might even up their overhelping! We want the muscles that ‘should’ be more engaged to get fatigued, get stronger, and become more capable of contributing so they eventually remove the need for overhelping by the wrong muscles. It keeps making more sense to me! But this means we must avoid ‘playing a high as we can’ and working to extremes in a traditional way. But that means that traditional methods of ‘just play high notes’ will either be fine (if your coordination patterns are on a healthy trajectory) or will actually be detrimental if your coordination patterns are pathological. I hate to be a contrarian to conventional pedagogy but we’re just scratching the surface here. There’s so much wrong with conventional ways to develop range! From today’s workout, lots of growth in the 4-minute sets. TONS of microfatigue!

 

F-Ab2-1:00 starting from 0:00 to 1:00

H-Ab2-1:00 starting from 2:00 to 3:00

F-A3-4:00 starting from 4:00 to 8:00

H-A3-4:00 starting from 9:00 to 13:00

F-Bb4-2:00 starting from 14:00 to 16:00

H-Bb4-2:00 starting from 17:00 to 19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1977 -Another good workout. Definitely getting over the bug I had (which is great- who has time for that!) H-G2-1:00 was a good example of the struggle for quality. This part of my range isn’t particularly fatiguing, so the quality becomes the barrier. The last minute of my F-Ab3-4:00 was good for seeing microfatigue- lip quivering, even jaw quivering side-to-side. Fatigue can take on all sorts of shifty activity. The last 10 seconds were especially trying- exactly where I want it! The over-breathing was more productive, but either I have lost some of my ability to play soft, or the sickness has limited the amount of oxygen I can metabolize in my breaths. Time will tell over these next few workouts. The high range (H-A4-2:00) is a good example of improvement, but not ‘quite’ the coordination patterns I want yet. Better to add counts, get stronger, and someday it will just shift. I’m getting more comfortable with the predictability of phase shifts and the fact that they will keep happening.

F-G2-1:00 starting from 0:00 to 1:00

H-G2-1:00 starting from 2:00 to 3:00

F-Ab3-4:00 starting from 4:00-8:00

H-Ab3-4:00 starting from 9:00-13:00

F-A4-2:00 starting from 14:00-16:00

H-A4-2:00 starting from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1975 -I am sick. I am starting this description not with an excuse, but an explanation. I think before I started on this practice journey, I would have thrown up my hands and said “oh well, I’m sick- there’s no way I can practice productively right now”. That’s just not who I am anymore. Now the version of me said “ok, how can I try and set myself up for as much success as possible? If I do all of that, can I practice productively?” In truth, I wasn’t sure, so therefore I tried it. I thought it will either be productive, OR I’ll learn from the process. So I slept in, hydrated, made some spicey ramen to try and help clear up some sinus congestion, took a hot shower, used a netti pot, and then took a cool/flu OTC med. THEN I did stability. For the most part it was a great victory. I learned about how I can set myself up for practice (which really should be identical to performances) and got stronger through the workout. The only drawback (which was interesting)- I was supposed to do H-G3-4:00 at 80,1 and even though I was breathing to capacity, I just could NOT get enough oxygen to make 6 phrases of 80 happen. I ended up around 60 beats (which is still 30 seconds!). No need to lower the numbers there for next time, and a HUGE WIN in confidence and grit toward moving forward. I’ll take it!

 

F-Gb2-1:00 starting at 0:00

H-Gb2-1:00 starting at 3:00

F-G3-4:00 starting at 4:00

H-G3-4:00 starting at 9:00

F-Ab4-2:00 starting at 14:00

H-Ab4-2:00 starting at 17:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1973 -What a phenomenal workout! So many great moments of example, so many great breakthrough of understanding for me- This is ABSOLUTELY the path I need to be on! OK, let’s break it down. F-F2 1:00 at the beginning has some great examples. First, there is a real fight for pitch. I was flat- I bent the pitch up. It went too far. I bent down. It was too flat, etc. I danced around the pitch several times and wondered why it was so tough to buzz exactly the F2?? There is something about that exact space. Each frequency vibrated slightly differently. The physical points of anchor in the mouth/lips changes- lower notes are a little wider on the face. Higher notes are a little narrower. There is some kind of lack of control at the precise location for F2. That’s OK! That means the longer counts give me a chance to keep working at it. Second- as I was sustaining, you can see a great example of me trying to hedge my air (to make the longer phrase), going just a little too far, losing the buzz, having to push down on the gas pedal much more than I wanted to. “Flooring it” is so wasteful in terms of air that each time I have to do it, I run the risk of not having enough air to make the phrase. It’s a delicate battle of finding the Goldilocks Zone of the most efficient use of fuel. It has become a fun game for me 😊H-F2-1:00 was far less counts than I thought, but I had forgotten that I am trying to maintain a higher quality sound which right now is more costly. Oh well, it’s about the sound, not the game of making the counts. F-Gb3-4:00 was a great example of ‘winning the war’ on training my face to adopt a new way of playing. I can’t really describe it other than my left jaw needs to be a little more forward so the lips can stay balanced. It was a significant battle today but I think I won. H-Gb3-4:00 I absolutely lost, but it was like getting my butt kicked in the gym by a master trainer. I want more! It was the perfect balance of running out of air, running out of oxygen, and running out of face. I don’t think that’s always necessary to have all three, but when I do, WOW what a workout. F-G4-2:00 was decent and productive, but I still can’t control it the wait I want to. H-G4-2:00 started with a brain fart. I completely forgot what the counts where! No matter, I felt like I can move it up next time. Super Excited for this workout!

 

F-F2-1:00- Starting at 0:00

H-F2-1:00- Starting at 2:00

F-Gb3-4:00- Starting at 4:00

H-Gb3-4:00- Starting at 9:00

F-G4-2:00- Starting at 14:00

H-G4-2:00- Starting at 17:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1971 -It still amazes me how much different this workout was from last workout. I was able to take the feedback and results from last workout, dial in the numbers more accurately, and thread the needle with a highly effective workout. These notes landed so much more effectively. I will say that H-Gb4 was interesting- the free buzz sounded like a 56k modem- several pitches at once. As I try to keep my lower jaw forward, there are places where my lips are not used to vibrate, and I think I’m working through some scar tissue issues where my lips have certain ‘dead spots’. What I find interesting is most conventional pedagogy would suggest that I let the face determine where the best vibration is, and let the face go there. I reject this philosophy- I think the scar tissue creates challenges and my face will mislead me. I have to work against the grain in order to train my face to find a better way to vibrate. I can tell on H-Gb4-2:00 that my face wasn’t able to keep the jaw forward as far as I was on E4 (and what I was able to struggle through on F4), but eventually it will ‘get there’.

Onward!

 

F-E2-1:00 from 0:00-1:00

H-E2-1:00 from 2:00-3:00

F-F3-4:00 from 4:00-8:00

H-F3-4:00 from 9:00-13:00

F-Gb4-2:00 from 14:00-16:00

H-Gb4-2:00 from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1969 -This was a fascinating workout. Some of it sounds absolutely awful. My H-F4 was struggling to speak at all, and I think the best way to describe it is ‘productive’. When one is sick and coughing, a way to describe the cough is how ‘productive’ it is. A productive cough is one that brings up a lot of gunk and helps the body to get rid of it. I know that I my face has developed pathologically, and there are times where I have developed strength- enough to hold the embouchure in place and work through some knots or scar tissue in the lips. Every once in a while I will hit a certain note that feels and sounds awful, and today was the day! H-F4 was very ‘productive’!!

 

F-Eb2-1:00 from 0:00-1:00

H-Eb2-1:00 from 2:00-3:00

F-E3-4:00 from 4:00-8:00

H-E3-4:00 from 9:00-13:00

F-F4-2:00 from 14:00-16:00

H-F4-2:00 from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1967 -Really interesting workout today! For several of the sets, I was just going through it- nothing spectacular to report, no major epiphanies, just getting the work done. Sometimes the ratios seem work out as predicted and other times they seem far off. Lately I have been debating with myself regarding ‘which is more important, quality of sound, or longer sustains to challenge the muscles?”. I was leaning toward an idea that in the lower half of the register, QUALITY of sound mattered more and in the upper register QUANTITY of counts mattered more (to challenge the muscles). Now I’m not so sure, today for E4 I could feel (and see) the left side of my face really try to hold itself into position, and there was a lot of shifting- not due to fatigue, but because I was trying to improve the quality of sound. It felt like my face used to not be strong enough to make moves like that, but today it was. Naturally I will now need to develop the strength and endurance with this new coordination pattern, but it got me thinking: Maybe each note requires a certain pattern of coordination (which determines the quality of sound) and there will be a natural shifting between the QUALITY of sound and the QUANTITY of counts being a priority in order for things to improve. It’s going to alternate back and forth naturally. It’s not so simple as ‘lower half of range focus on THIS, higher half focus on THAT. It will shift and alternate over time- maybe I’ll have different needs on different notes regularly. Is this worth keeping track of? Time will tell. Let’s see what day 1969 brings…

 

F-D2-1:00 from 0:00-1:00

H-D2-1:00 from 2:00-3:00

F-Eb3-4:00 from 4:00-8:00

H-Eb3-4:00 from 9:00-13:00

F-E4-2:00 from 14:00-16:00

H-E4-2:00 from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1965 -Tough workout today. I think a combination of the diet (from Christmas parties) and the heat blasting because it’s so cold outside, plus the extreme heat in the basement here made some of the breathing ore difficult. There is still a discrepancy of about 2:1 between free buzzing and playing on the horn in the low register, but I’m trying to retain a better quality of sound in the low range so the counts are lower. I was shocked at the H-D3 in terms of oxygen. As I mention in the video, there are three resources that we focus on, and any one of them can cause us to fail on a set: Chops, Air, or oxygen. As the counts get longer, we need to over-oxygenate our bodies so they won’t become too depleted during the rep. Even though I did a substantial amount of over-breathing, I did not have enough oxygen in my system for the set. There are two factors that could be the cause. First, the F-D3-4:00 was at 80,1, which requires 6 reps of 80 counts. That’s a depleting exercise, so it’s possible that there was no way to over-oxygenate the body enough. I reject this because I’ve done it before. This leads me to the second conclusion: during my over-breathing, I was focusing on breathing ‘shallow’ from the top half of the lungs, which has a better oxygen exchange ratio (that’s why when we get winded, we tend to breathe more from the top). Without the deep breaths, I think the total oxygenation was less, and not enough to finish the reps. Next stability workout, I will focus on deep breaths to compare the results.

 

F-Db2-1:00 from 0:00-1:00

H-Db2-1:00 from 2:00-3:00

F-D3-4:00 from 4:00-8:00

H-D3-4:00 from 9:00-13:00

F-Eb4-2:00 from 14:00-16:00

H-Eb4-2:00 from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1963 -C2 free buzz scaled up, on the horn was still low (due to the timbre difference caused by the long tube and extra resistance). Now I’m wondering if the Cook County Studies compared the same note with different lengths of tubes. I’m thinking they didn’t but I’m going to do some digging… I started talking after H-C2 and completely forgot to prep the overbreathing adequately for the F-Db3-4:00. 80,1 in a 4-minute set means 6 reps of 80, which, in my experience, requires significant over-breathing. That’s OK- lesson learned! You can watch the face scramble to try and figure out optimal coordination/fight fatigue in the H-D4 near the end of the video. The last minute should show some good work happening!

 

F-C2-1:00 from 0:00-1:00

H-C2-1:00 from 2:00-3:00

F-Db3- 4:00 from 4:00-8:00

H-Db3-4:00 from 9:00-13:00

F-D4-2:00 from 14:00-16:00

H-D4-2:00 from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1961 -The first free buzz is B1, and it is a good example of my efforts to keep a good quality sound, but when the sound is ‘working’, I am trying to decrease the amount of air I am using (making a smaller sound) to maximize efficiency. I take it too far and lose the buzz a few times, so I have to feed it more air to keep the engine from stalling. I find this process of “stalling out, feeding more air, re-gaining the buzz, playing softer” to be quite costly. It would be more air efficient to just ride the ‘sweet spot’ and never stall out. But, I do think there is improvement to be gained from flirting with the fault line, but it means that the numbers will be inconsistent- sometimes being higher, sometimes lower. Every time I take a breath, I seem to be better at walking the line with less stalling.

Then when I play B1 on the horn, there is a significant dip in sustain counts compared to the Pedal Bb1 a half step lower. It’s validating to see empirically that frequency is not the only factor that can have an effect on volume of air (assuming the same volume)- which seems antithetical to the old Chicago Symphony- Cook County studies on air flow with orchestral musicians (the work of Arnold Jacobs). In theory, I should be able to sustain B1 longer than Bb1 with the same volume- and this plays out in the free buzz, but NOT on the horn. Here’s the rub- TIMBRE. The added resistance of the instrument requires more air to respond, so the sustain is less BUT the timbre is different. The Cook County studies were used with Chicago Symphony players, and the timbre was significantly more consistent, thus the players, even across instruments, were able to demonstrate an effect with the volume of air being consistent, even when the same note was played on different instruments. TIMBRE is the forgotten factor from these studies, and it clearly pays out here! It might actually be the scar tissue causing a lack of supple nuance in my lip vibration, thus the resistance of B1 requires significantly more air to sustain. Will this improve as a function of improved facial stability? Time will tell- at least we now have a way to measure it!

The Db4 Free buzz is wild- there is a point where I point to my face (which indicates that is where I feel microfatigue) and within a second or two, the buzz stops! They didn't feel related, but they MUST be given the timing. I'm going to pay close attention to this over the next few workouts.


 

F-B1-1:00 from 0:00-1:00

H-B1-1:00 from 2:00-3:00

F-C3-4:00 from 4:00- 8:00

H-C3-4:00 from 9:00-13:00

F-Db4-2:00 from 14:00-16:00

H-Db4-2:00 from 17:00-19:00

Commentary starts at 19:00, but my phone runs out of memory and clips the video. I have to transfer some videos over the next few days!

Day 1959

Whoops! I missed a minute on the H-B2-4:00. Not a big deal in the long-term. I adjusted the score to reflect slightly less positive result (considering I still had another minute to go). It should even out over time. Again with the garbage buzz in the mid register followed by an 80,1 on the horn. That is pretty common for me right now, but the fascinating part is feeling the face try to move stuff around to get a more favorable buzz happening. The face was working throughout, which is the point! Overall a good workout, and the Pedal Bb buzz as well as on the horn are definitely improving in terms of quality of sound. As a bass trombonist, that’s a good thing!

F-Bb1-1:00 from 0:00 to 1:00

H-Bb1-1:00 from 2:00 to 3:00

F-B2-4:00 from 4:00 to 8:00

H-B2-4:00 from 9:00 to 12:00 (should have been 13:00!)

F-C4-2:00 from 13:00-15:00

H-C4-2:00 from 16:00-18:00

Commentary starting at 18:00

Day 1957- Touching on the highest notes I currently play in Stability (D5). You might be able to see on the D5's that I cannot quite get the same 'jaw forward' approach, but I am trying as best I can. As the strength continues to gain, eventually it will happen, and when it does, the numbers will tank. Also some fun mid-register shenanigans with free buzzing. Awful, never centered, etc. but the coordination outside the mouthpiece was productive.

F-C3-2:00- from 0:00 to 2:00
H-C3-2:00- from 3:00 to 5:00
F-Db4-1:00- from 6:00 to 7:00
H-Db4-1:00- from 8:00 to 9:00
F-D5-4:00- from 10:00 to 14:00
H-D5-4:00 from 15:00 to 19:00
Commentary starting at 19:00 and counting...

Day 1955- Another good workout. F-B2 and H-Bb both 2:00 at the front shows similar struggles of feeding enough sound to maintain the vibration vs running out of air to make the phrase. Shifting priorities to quality of sound is yielding 20-30 counts shorter phrases. Totally fine with that. On the high end, F-Db5-4:00 and H-Db5-4:00 show good examples of a slightly compromised set-up. I'm not quite strong enough to keep my jaw forward as much as I would like, so the entire time becomes a struggle to move it forward. It's a matter of when these muscles fatigue. Eventually I will be strong enough, but then have to build up endurance with the new set-up.

 

F-B2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-B2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-C4-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-C4-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-Db5- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-Db5-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1953- Today was the first day since making the decision to prioritize quality of sound over counts in the lower range, and my H-Bb2-2:00 was about 20 beats less than what I thought it would be. This was in part because I fed a little more air through in an attempt to maintain a better quality of sound. The following F-B3-1:00 was also significantly down (30 counts) and you can hear again that I had to feed more air, thus running out of breath more quickly. These happened relatively early. You can hear several attempts to dial back the flow, only to be left with a sputtering engine desperate for fuel.

F-Bb2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-Bb2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-B3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-B3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-C5- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-C5-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1951- I think the verdict is in: Over the past few workouts I have pondered what the priority should be in each set. Should I sacrifice counts in order to maintain my very best sound, or should I prioritize counts at the expense of sound quality to favor muscular development. Now I am of the mind that “It Depends”. If I am playing in the lower half of my range, there really isn’t a muscular/stability issue- I just run out of breath. In this part of my range, I should prioritize the quality of sound, and if this means I run out of breath sooner, then so be it. But, in the upper half of my range, my muscles will fatigue before I run out of air, and therefore I should prioritize counts in order to give my face a chance to sustain longer phrases and let the lips sort it out. This decision will likely cause my lower numbers to decrease for a bit, but ultimately the goal is better playing, not higher numbers. Today also included a note that seems to reside on the ‘fault line’ between the two; Bb3. Today’s F-Bb3-1:00 was about 23 counts less than I predicted. My lips seemed to have a dead spot and didn’t want to vibrate. I had to practically shove air through to get them to respond, and as a result, I ran out of air far more quickly. We’ll see what happens when I come back around to this note. 

F-A2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-A2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-Bb3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-Bb3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-B4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-B4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1949- There was a ton of fatigue at the end of the 4-minute sets. F-Bb4-4:00 runs from 10:00-14:00, so catch the last minute or so, and H-Bb4-4:00 runs from 15:00-19:00, so catch the last two minutes, starting at 17:00. It’s as if my face has two personalities (the ‘old’ face and the ‘new’ face) and they are fighting for control. There is one moment where I am pressing my jaw forward and the fatigue is so significant that I start to yodel a little between the two. Wild. In the early free buzz, you can hear the struggle to ride the line between soft, and making the counts. I could buzz a little louder and it would solve the embouchure challenge, but I wouldn’t be able to sustain it as long, so it’s always the line we ride- and I think it is this line where the improvement really resides! That’s near the front of the video if you are interested. Hope this helps!

F-Ab2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-Ab2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-A3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-A3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-Bb4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-Bb4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1947- In this video, the beginning might be of interest. I started with F-G2 for 2 minutes at 80,1. In order to make the phrase, I have to play soft, but in playing that soft I am sacrificing the sound, and this is clearly evident. So the question is: is it better to take a lower ratio in order to feed it enough air to make it sound better, OR is it better to do whatever I can to maintain 'any' vibration? On the one hand, the face is challenged in the extremes. On the other hand, in the low register (especially the trombone low register) there is really no strength challenge. It's ALL breath challenge. So I wonder if it is better in this context to prioritize the sound quality over strength building. I'm going to leave it at 80,1 and leave a note for my future self to re-visit this question when F-G2 comes back around.

F-G2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-G2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-Ab3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-Ab3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-A4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-A4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1945- Not much to add to this one. Good workout!

F-Gb2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-Gb2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-G3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-G3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-Ab4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-Ab4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1943- Numbers are getting closer to where they should be, but noticing in the low register I can free buzz much longer than I can actually play. I wonder if this means the way that I free buzz is 'too' different from the way I play. Over time I may adjust the counts so I can 'fill out' the free buzz sound more. Then again, these two numbers may slowly shift toward each other naturally. Time will tell!

F-F2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-F2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-Gb3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-Gb3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-G4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-G4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1941- Last two sets are on Gb- 4:00. You can still see a healthy amount of microfatigue in the final minute of the F-Gb4-4:00 (around 13:00-14:00) and the last two minutes of H-Gb4-4:00 (17:00-19:00). The last minute goes a little beyond 'my face holding' and I noticed some things are buckling, so I gave it a -3. Live to fight another day!

F-E2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-E2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-F3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-F3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-Gb4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-Gb4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1939- Now the last two sets are F4- 4 minutes. I adjusted the ratio for the final set down to 22,1 and I think I'm pretty close- you can still see a ton of microfatigue in the final minute of the F-F4-4:00 (around 13:00-14:00) and the last two minutes of H-F4-4:00 (17:00-19:00).

F-Eb2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-Eb2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-E3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-E3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-F4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-F4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

Day 1937- The last two sets are E4 for 4 minutes, and you can see the implosion yourself toward the end (16 minutes-ish into the video).

F-D2-2:00- from 0:00-2:00

H-D2-2:00- from 3:00-5:00

F-Eb3-1:00- from 6:00-7:00

H-Eb3-1:00- from 8:00-9:00

F-E4- 4:00- from 10:00-14:00

H-E4-4:00- from 15:00-19:00

commentary starting at 19:00

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