This is definitely taking my playing to the next level!! About a week ago I came across one of Pops' e-books called "Tensionless Playing." Now I figured I had pretty much resolved the tension issue in my playing. I had decided that because after 2 hours of practice or rehearsal I could play a strong High G, and I was in tune above the staff. I knew I still needed to develop some more, but I thought I was pretty much there in terms of relaxed playing.
I had taken lessons from Pops when I lived in Texas 12 years ago and he got me going in the right direction. I was intrigued by the book's title and the description, so I ordered it. As soon as I read the book it clicked. We have all heard people talk about relaxing and using less tension, but it was always hard to figure out how to do that. After I read Pops book I finally got it. I understood which facial muscles to relax and which ones to use.
I also finally understood what he meant by "buzzing inside the aperture tunnel," and that was huge. I had always thought I had a decent sound, but when I applied what was in the book the resonance in my sound dramatically increased. Not by playing louder, but by buzzing inside the aperture tunnel. When I get all this right, I would say it takes 1/4 the effort and my sound is fuller and projects more. My wife was amazed, telling me I sounded like an entirely different player.
Well I had started down the path with the e-book, but I wanted to make sure I was on the right track so I e-mailed Pops and set up a Skpe lesson. He helped me work though all this (and more). For the last couple of years, my High G was relatively easy but my High A was relatively hard and not reliable. In the Skype lesson Pops had me belt out a HUGE High A--not some P to MP level screamer squeak, but a full F to FF sound that was full and strong--and it was easy to do.
I am still building this new approach into my playing. When I get it right, (at present that is 60-70% of the time, I have that effortless sound of a pro player. When I get it wrong, I go back to sounding like a college player--albeit a middle-aged college player. The cool thing is when I "lose it," I can stop, readjust, and get it back. Eventually it will be a permanent part of my playing.
This tensionless playing and buzzing inside the aperture tunnel isn't for everyone. If you don't already have reasonable air support and have a somewhat reasonable tongue arch, you may well need the tension just to play. For me, the progression was: air support, tongue arch, and now tensionless playing and buzzing the aperture tunnel. I realize not everyone will follow that same path, but that is what has happened to me. I aslo don't think it nees to take 12 years to get to this point.
I am not sure any of this is new or radical, as pro players have been doing all this stuff for over a hundred years. What is new for me is Pops way of explaining it, which finally unlocked it for me. BTW, I am not a paid endorser of Pops. I have paid for every book and lesson I have received from him.
This book teaches you to relax facial tension and double your endurance.