Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Treble Clef Range and Adding in Tonguing Begins!!!

I've been so happy since the recording of my last video! That recording went amazing and captured a lot of the exciting improvements! But even more exciting, is the fact that there's been more progress made since then. I will record a video soon! Lately I've been able to go higher, and noticed my chin finally started to flex more in my treble clef range. It's working hard just like it did in my middle range before. My lower lip that was sticking out, is much more flexible now, and I feel I have a little more control over it. I can practice for about 2 hours before my endurance is shot.

The downside about improvement as I am able to finally venture higher into my range is I have to take an even longer break after practicing. I have to take 4-6 days off just to make sure my face feels refreshed and ready to go again. I'm being very careful.

In the past, I was very concerned about how long I ventured into my treble clef range because it often, if not all the time, caused tension to build back up quite fast. I spoke about how if I played in my treble clef range for a bit, and then tried to jump back down into my low range or mid-to-low range, it would be difficult for my embouchure to relax again and for the tension to go down. Playing in my treble clef range (i.e. from space F up to space C) was very taxing on my facial muscles before. It also effected me in the way that I could play a repetitive passage in my treble clef range for a couple seconds before the tension took over and my embouchure collapsed. It was a huge combination of the tension restricting me, and lack of endurance....so two separate things, yet, both effected me when I ventured higher. 

The tension from the dystonia is harder to tell how it effects me in my higher range, since you can't see any involuntary contractions, or twitches, but you can tell it limits my mobility as my face seems to have a hard time just relaxing in my higher register, and my chin, just like how it use to react to my middle register, couldn't make up it's mind on whether it wanted to flatten out or bunch...it fluctuates as I hold a note out. 

However! Recently these issues have been lessening since last month. Today during practice, I noticed my endurance was a million times better than usual. As well, even though I felt tense in my face and thought maybe I was going through another relapse, it didn't take long to iron out the tension. Then after the tension was relieved, I noticed how much more the control of that lower lip sticking out was improved and felt less limp, and the movements in my face as I tongued was a ton less than before, and the movements in my face when I jumped around were less of that "stuck in the mud" type of feeling, even on my open harmonics it's less noticeable movement and difficulty in my playing. My muscles don't seem to be freaking out as much as they usually do, nor does it take a long time to relax them after playing in a higher register. The air leaks in my treble clef range didn't kick in until about 2 hours into practice, and also didn't show up on my "space C", but on  my "line D"...so my range has expanded one more note! WOOHOO!!! :D I can usually play up to a high F, but my lack of endurance restricts me to only be able to reach the note 2 times if lucky. But, I can usually go through a practice with a range from "space C" all the way down to "pedal B" right below pedal F. 

A lot of people might think...you can practice for 2 hours? Then you must have good endurance. Not necessarily. With dystonia, practicing for 2 hours includes a lot of breaks and waiting...a lot of stretches! More stretches than practicing, and also taking the time to message my face inside and out, or even eating ice or putting some in the side of my cheek while I take a break, and playing in my pedal range to relax.

Majority of practice time is spent on relieving the tension, and the last quarter (sometimes it's half and half) of my practice, near the end, I test my larger interval motions, or melodic passages, or test to see how my tonguing, etc. is, and I'm always doing warm-down or lower pedal playing exercises between treble clef playing just to make sure I counteract the high playing with lower vibrations/playing ...I feel the pedal range vibrations around my embouchure help relax the tension. I feel this has been a huge part of my recovery too! Thank god for my pedal range. It is my life safer, along with buzzing, and stretches. 

Now that I feel it is safe to, and my muscles are adjusting to my treble clef range. With much carefulness, I am now beginning to focus on adding tonguing back into my playing, and holding notes out in my treble clef range....and of course...this requires the emphasis of good breath control to support it all; which thank god, I'm also able to do now. 

I can't wait to record my next video!!!! However, it may be in a week or 1.5 weeks, since I need time to rest. So far things are going great!!!! I will be reconnecting my blogger account with my google+ profile since I quit facebook. I need to focus more on myself, and getting things done. Be back soon! 

- Katie! :) 

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