Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

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Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

Post by Laus102 »

First post here! Hello everyone, I am young (16) and I am experiencing some trembling when I am playing, it gets to the point where my straight tone (aka long tones w/o vibrato) is not straight, it wobbles like crazy, not pitch but just the consistency of the tone. I have a few theories, it has to be one of 2 things: either my actual embouchure is shaking (lips, jaw), or my arms, which are holding the flute, are shaking, making me think the shaking is in my embouchure. I think it's my arms. And it's not even that I am nervous, this happens during practice at home. It's that real jittery shaking if anyone can relate to that (like after alot of sugar or coffee). It's very embarrassing because it is obvious on solos and the like. I don't get it all the time, only sometimes. Any help at all is appreciated!!



Re: Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

Post by PhlutePharmD »

Welcome, Brendan!

I am of no help with your trembling, but the same thing happens to me - so I'll be most interested in the responses.

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Re: Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

Post by lianeandflute »

i have no idea what you do for practicing so forgive me if i say what you are already doing.

in order to gain control over the muscles in your lips, you have a to do a lot of long notes. i've never really had issues with trembling lips unless i stopped doing long notes (long tones) for a while. it really builds up the muscles and awareness of what's going on in your lips, which means you know how to control them. maybe you should dedicate a solid 30-60 minutes to long tones (try a variety of different exercises available from moyse, trevor wye and the like and make up your own)? and i mean proper long notes, not just playing slow songs because that doesn't actually help.

actually, i would really highly recommend buying moyse's de la sonorite or trevor wye's book on tone and using those because they are both very good. i've used the moyse my whole life and recently started looking at trevor wye for my students to make things a little more interesting for them as the moyse can feel a little plain at times. but the moyse is really great, it covers the core of everything to do with tone and muscle control in your embouchure. it has lots of different exercises in it.

also practice in front of a mirror so you can see what's going on and maybe that can help.

if it's your arms, maybe your arms are struggling with the weight? my flute is quite heavy because it's solid silver, has 2 extra keys (C# trill and b foot) and is heavy walled so when i got it i suddenly had back problems because of the big weight change. i actually did some weight training, just a little bit with light weights, to try to combat this. sometimes i did normal style weights, but often i held the two weights in flute position and would do repetitions of moving them up and down, and in front and behind.

that's all i can think of. what has your teacher said? if you don't have a private teacher, you should really look into getting a respectable and high quality teacher you can help you out.
"It's happening inside you; not in the flute!" - Emmanuel Pahud (At a masterclass in Sydney, Nov. 2010)

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Re: Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

Post by Zevang »

I've heard that this can be some kind of neural disease. If this is the case, I suggest you try to observe not only while you are practicing with the flute, but in other activities as well. If it's only when you play, maybe it's a problem with your posture, maybe arms or fists or even hands, or as said before the weight of the flute.
I think it deserves a close observation by your flute teacher, and maybe some medical assistance.

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Re: Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

Post by pied_piper »

To expand on what lianeandflute wrote, it's important to try to keep up a daily routine of playing long tones. My job requires me to travel some and I can't always practice in hotel rooms. If I miss a few days of long tone practice, I will sometimes get lip trembles as you have described. It often occurs when I try to make up for lost time and practice for a longer length of time which causes my lips to get fatigued. That's when I'll experience the lip trembles. It usually takes a few days to recover and get back to normal.

If you have not been doing a daily routine of long tones practice, it will likely take you several weeks to completely lose the trembles. When you start to get them, stop for a few moments and relax your lips, blow air through them somewhat hard to make your lips vibrate like blowing a "raspberry" sound at someone. That will help to get rid of the trembles for a short while, but they will likely return quickly until you have built up the required lip muscle endurance.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."

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Re: Trembling embouchure/ arms while playing

Post by Mindermast »

Trembling arms sounds like bad posture. The posture when playing flute is weird at first, and quite uncomfortable, but that is because you need to find out how to assume it. You might even have to acquire higher skills in controlling your limbs individually at first. A lot of this comes automatically over time, and during lessons, your teacher can help you, at home, a mirror makes you control yourself better. Eventually check the weight of your flute. How hard should it be to hold it in front of your mouth for an hour or so? Not harder than holding anything of the same weight there. But at first, it is probably easier to hold a cup of tea instead. Also check, how easy it is to operate the keys. Then compare that to the force you do apply while playing. You can continue with similar tests on each part of your body, and you will notice that overall, you are applying far too much action and power. This is perfectly normal and will improve over time. But you can speed up this process by monitoring it. By the way, every body part in distress will radiate negative effects to the adjacent ones and that is one reason why it can be so difficult to find the real cause of problems.

I am sorry, this is a mostly theoretical explanation, but perhaps it helps you a bit. The most important practical advice here is the one about the teacher and the mirror.

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