The physical origins of the problem
- Poor breath usage, capacity and control
- I forgot how every morning as an undergraduate flute performance major I practiced vigorous breathing exercises to expand my lung capacity and improve my breath control. Even if I don't practice every day, I should always perform breathing exercises to keep my breathing muscles strong.
- Long periods of time went by where I didn't play my flute lasting months to years at a time. Every time I picked up my flute, I compensated for my weak breath control with my embouchure.
- Although it served me well overall when I played professionally, my embouchure was always a bit rigid in the low register which compromised the responsiveness of my articulation. To compensate, I diligently practiced articulation exercises to mask this weakness.
- I had my flute overhauled and when I got it back, there was a timing problem among the keys synchronized with the F key that caused a large amount of resistance in D, D# and E in the 2nd octave. It took years before I finally found a repair technician who was able to find this problem and fix it. Meanwhile, I thought I was stuck playing a lousy flute and having to distort my embouchure to get those notes to sound halfway decent. (For the record, I play a handmade sterling silver Powell with a Drelinger headjoint that was "fit" to me by Sandy Drelinger himself. There should be absolutely nothing suddenly "lousy" about a setup like this.)
- Small pad leaks that cause me to force in the low register
- Playing in public
- My condition deteriorated to the point that just trying to form an embouchure without the flute causes a spasm
How I believe my neural pathways are tangled
- My left cheek muscle, embouchure muscles and tongue are neurologically tangled. When I play, I have a contraction in my left cheek muscle and the response is to bear down on my embouchure. My embouchure moves when I articulate and my left cheek muscle spasms as well