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 RE: Extraneous Clicking
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   1999-09-14 21:05

Ben wrote -
... I can't seem to start a new note without some undesired noises (either clicking or puffing).

I'd like to work on Ken's suggestions, but I must admit that I don't know what a LA motion should be....

Ben -

The easy one first. The LA motion is what you do when you sing the syllable "LA." Try "Tra La La." The second and third syllables will be what you want, except as light as possible. The tip of your tongue brushes against the ridge behind your upper teeth.

Now the hard one. If you get a puff or other change in the breath when you start a note, you are 99% certain to be performing a complex series of muscle movements called the Valsalva maneuver, in which the abdominal muscles contract and push down. Everyone is familiar with it and knows how to do it. It’s the movement we make in defecating. (It’s also the movement made by women in labor.) This is completely natural and nothing to be embarrassed about. However, the Valsalva maneuver is complicated and involves large muscles that are not entirely under voluntary control and move slowly. If you do the Valsalva maneuver each time you begin the sound, you get a large, slow and uncontrolled puff of air. This enormously complicates the process of articulation. Furthermore, because it’s so complex and so slow, it is fatal to both quickness and lightness in articulation.

A quick check is to put a hand on your belly and feel for any puffing movement.

The great expert on eliminating the Valsalva maneuver from wind instrument playing was the late Arnold Jacobs, who played tuba in the Chicago Symphony for 44 years. There are transcripts of his master classes at, and These are inspiring just to read, and a revelatory to use as part of a practice routine.

This one takes a lot of work, but repays every bit ten times over.

Ken Shaw

 Reply To Message  |  Avail. Forums  |  Flat View   Newer Topic  |  Older Topic 

 Topics Author  Date
 Extraneous Clicking  new
Ben 1999-09-13 19:38 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
paul 1999-09-13 20:02 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
STuart 1999-09-13 20:49 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Kevin Bowman 1999-09-13 21:15 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Ken Shaw 1999-09-13 21:18 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Hiroshi 1999-09-14 00:33 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking- for Ben  new
Rick2 1999-09-14 04:44 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Jim Carabetta 1999-09-14 12:24 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Ben 1999-09-14 18:00 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Ken Shaw 1999-09-14 21:05 
 RE: Extraneous Clicking  new
Rick2 1999-09-15 04:34 

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