I always find the intersection between science and art interesting. If you have a few minutes please consider filling out an anonymous survey to help conduct research into how a neck puff affects wind musicians.
Donald Reinhardt wrote about a neck puff in the Encyclopedia of the Pivot System. He felt that was a particularly bad problem to have and was caused by one of or a combination of the following.
- Bottling up the air and delaying the initial attack.
- Protruding the abdominal regions while ascending.
- Too much embouchure compression causing the air to bottle up at the lips.
- Arching the tongue at the wrong level for the pitch being played.
- Poor embouchure development
- A too small and too shallow mouthpiece for the player.
Reinhardt put together an exercise he recommended to help players reduce or eliminate a neck puff. He wrote:
- Compress your lips so that they are touching very lightly. Slowly push your compressed embouchure formation as far forward and away from your teeth as possible; then, bring your compressed embouchure formation back as far as possible into an exaggerated smiling position. Your neck muscles should retain excessive tension throughout the forward and backward motion. Execute a normal inhalation. Repeat this entire process about ten times. Increase this total by adding two or more repeats every day or so.
- Slowly open your mouth as far as possible and make certain that tension can be felt in your neck muscles. Bite down slowly and deliberately and retain the muscular tension in your neck throughout. Do not permit your teeth to clash together while closing them. Execute a normal inhalation. Repeat this entire process about ten times. Increase this total by adding two or more repeats every day or so.
- Slowly push your jaw as far forward as you possibly can without straining. retain this protruded jaw position with the prescribed neck tension for a few seconds – then rest for several moments. Execute a normal inhalation. Repeat this entire process about ten times. Increase this total by adding two or more repeats every day or so.
– Donald S. Rienhardt, Encyclopedia of the Pivot System, p. 69
It only takes a few minutes at most to complete the survey, so please help the cause and fill it out. Even if you’ve never had problems with a neck puff before.