This post is geared towards my wind students. Many students often are timid when asked to play out, and lose their core sound attempting to play softly. This was a common thread in my lessons this week, from my clarinet students, through to my saxophone students and especially my flute students!
Each student had a similar problem: They weren't putting sufficient air into the instrument. The quick solution to making them hear the problem was to have them play loud. Louder playing forces us to use more air. More air through the instrument equated to a better and more focused tone. They all were surprised at how good they really sounded.
The question then leads to, "So how do I play soft?" Well the easiest way to tell them to play softer was to think not about changing their air speed, but change their air volume (amount of air). This is especially true for my clarinet students. If they slow their air
down, the upper clarion register suffers the most. And while they can get away with it in the lower registers, they usually can't articulate above G5.
This leads to many students getting frustrated and slurring everything. The air problem manifests in my flute students when they can't play E6 or F-sharp 6. They simply aren't placing their air in the right position in their mouth, nor are they giving enough air to the note.
So wind students, if you're having an issue with your instrument speaking, the first problem to tackle is the AIR! It's often times the solution.