A few posts back, I suggested the guideline “the ears are more intelligent than the lips”. Now I’m reading my masterclass notes from Patricia Morris (Oxford, 2006). I noticed one of her points: “Your lips learn from your ears”. Exactly! She put it more succinctly.
Her class on piccolo playing was full of these great ideas. Her experience with Feldenkreis made things all the more intereting. The piccolo can be hard on the body!
- In general, try placing the piccolo higher on the lower lip than the flute, and keep it turned out.
- Tensing your shoulders is like jumping in water and hoping you’ll swim! If you untense your shoulders, you will improve without having practiced.
- The key to playing piccolo in the top register: increase the air speed without blowing more. You can keep the air speed fast by: 1) making the embouchure hole smaller and 2)putting more pressure behind the embouchure.
- You don’t need to practice hours and hours on the piccolo. Thoughtful, sensible transferrence of flute technique to piccolo every day regularly instead.
- Ascending crescendos: build sound up at bottom, then let it alone. High notes are naturally loud.
- For low notes, you need to be able to lift the top of the lip. It helps to use the inside of the top lip, instead of having the top lip always rammed down. Don’t let bottom lip drop. To apply this to the low register: think of starting low notes from lifted upper lip.
- Practice Moyse Tone Development through Interpretation on the piccolo.
Her recommendations about taking the repeats in the Vivaldi Concerto at auditions:
You may ask if they want the repeats. If you are shy about asking, repeat the 1st section, then immediately play the ornamented version of the 2nd half.
I wish I could attend more of her classes! Years ago I bought her Piccolo Practice Book, but gave it away. Pretty silly, but I hope whoever has it is getting a lot of use.