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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had a "penny-drop moment" during practice last night that I wanted to share with you:
I know you are supposed to practice long tones in the form that you start with ppp, go to fff and then back to ppp (ppp < fff > ppp).
It's never been possible for me to start a note on ppp (especially in the low register); it always went from a light hissing sound directly to a rather louder honk, before I was able to really get the piano going (ppp was really never possible at all on the low notes).

I knew I should be supporting from the diaphragm, but until last night, I had never really done it correctly.
Before, I had always just used the muscles at the front of the stomach. Then last night, for the first time I started using all the muscles down there - the muscles at the front and sides, and the muscles that go around to the back. It was just like the analogy of squeezing the toothpaste from the very bottom of the tube. Lo and behold! the ppp came out so sweet as never before, right from the start of the note, even on low Bb. :)
I was so pleased, that I practiced long tones for over half-an-hour before moving on.

Has anyone else had a similar revelation, that suddenly made something easier to accomplish?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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3,204 Posts
Indeed, I have had several of these moments. And several moments where I got frustrated that something I thought I figured out, suddenly didn't work any more. Keeps me practicing :D
 

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Prodigal Son and Forum Contributor 2008
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My first soft low-note situation happened in the eighth grade, a few months after I started playing alto instead of flute in concert band.

There were three altos in the Junior High band. The two older kids played 1st part and I played second. (I bought my Super 20 tenor for this reason!)

In "House of the Rising Sun" a low soft note was to be played by the saxes in the first section. I remember hearing the lead player saying to his buddy: "I'm not gonna try it" thereby stopping him. I had already fully engaged my $50 Alexandre alto with the mouthpiece and reed that came with it and started playing the most gorgeous low D backing the lead clarinet/flute melody.

On the third measure my note squeaked relatively cleanly to a high D. I remember freaking initially when I felt it happening, but I held on with support and kept it in tune through the phrase. (I was already a five-year flute player, so no problem Mon!)

When I finished the section, unaccompanied by the two lead altos, I heard the leader say to his friend: "Figures!"

I proceeded to kick their collective asses in the section for the next three years until they all graduated.

Moral of the story: Sometimes you need a good squeak to get things going!
 

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I found out how to use the diaphragm after playing the sax for 2,5 years and flute for 1 year. I figured out that I can produce nice loud tones with the flute after playing sax, after a time I could produce them without play the sax before - that's how I found out how I can use my diaphragm :).
 
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