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David's Tip of the Day: Jaw Movement for Speed

David Barrett Admin's picture

A student came in last week asking about jaw movement after watching this video Here's what I told him...

"I tend not to focus on jaw movement anymore with students as a technique to study. In my experience, some techniques tend to show up in one's playing over time without having to focus on it, and this is one of them. To answer your question... when moving a hole to the right and coming back, you can use your jaw to make the quick motion away and back. The same applies for moving from one hole to the left and back.

Use this as an exercise for this... 4' 4 5 4 4' 3 4' 4 5 4 4' 3 4' 4 5 4 4' 3 etc.

In a pucker embouchure, especially with the face of the harmonica tilted downward, you can go as much as two holes to the left or right, using the flexibility of the flesh of your face to help a little bit. This technique is no very common, but when it is employed, it's usually from a player using a bullet mic that's taking advantage of the "flesh-to-flesh" approach of tight cupping.

Keep in mind that when moving one hole to the left or right and coming back, that a quick head twitch or quick nudge of one hand, can provide the same speed that the jaw can. These are all valid options, experiment with all of them and use what feels best to you."