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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been wondering how much air (if any) is lost from the oral cavity into the nasal cavity when playing high pressure notes like with the palm keys or altissimo. I am talking about oral cavity air slipping past the soft palate into the nasal cavity rather than going through the mouthpiece as intended. Is the soft palate seal complete or does some air escape essentially resulting in an air leak in the system prior to the mouthpiece.
 

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This is to some extent under your control. When playing a higher resistance setup like on soprano, you can have trouble expelling air and it gets stale; I can vent some of it out my nose while playing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So the air in the oral cavity is completely under your control with venting through the nasal cavity as needed. I play tenor sax with a Berg .105 and occasionally I will hear it leaking out and was wondering if this was unusual. Thanks for your input.
 

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when you exhale through the mouth, especially when producing pressure there will be no air going through the nasal cavity.

I am a diver, as many other people here are, if any air would escape from the nose while exhaling it would lift the googles or at the very least you would feel it escaping. If you have any of this (for example air can escape through the tears duct) this may indicate some sort of medical problem. Talk about this with your doctor (which one should always do when facing anything connected to the bodily functions not working the way they are expected to ).

Anyway , hold your nose and close your mouth, try to hear if you hear any hissing, it may indeed come from your eye tears duct (which is connected to the nose)
 

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I have never had any air leak into my nasal cavity while playing. Ever.
 

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Try putting your thumb in your mouth and blowing as hard as you can. If no air leaks through the sinus cavity, then everything is working fine. Sometimes when the embouchure tires air can start leaking out of the corners of the mouth. Are you sure this is not what you are hearing.

I actually had this happen to me at a music camp I attended as a high school student. With rehearsals, sectionals, practice sessions I was playing more hours a day than I had ever done before. I actually started to experience the sensation that I could not not stop the air from going out my nose. I panicked and went to the medical help office. The doctor examined inside my mouth and said everything looked ok and to just take a rest from playing for a while. I did and it went away never to return and that was nearly 60 years ago, but I confess I don't practice that much anymore. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am 67 and was born with a cleft lip and palate repaired when I was an infant. I am wondering if there is some deficiency in my soft palate allowing air to escape when under pressure or maybe with fatigue. I have found that if I hold my nose and play the high notes they are quite robust, disregarding the air popping through the Eustachian tubes and tear ducts. I have been playing for years and have apparently compensated for this defect fairly well. I would have mentioned this earlier in my post but wanted an unbiased opinion. I see no problem with the upper lip embouchure BTW. Thanks to all for your input!
 
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