Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 12:15:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re Valsalva Maneuver

Tim Hutson wrote:
<<<<<My question is: what is the best way to avoid this "maneuver" or
"problem" or whatever it is called?  >>>>>>>

Following are some almost random comments on the problem.

Valsalva Maneuver is also called a "glottal stop." When you have the problem, you feel like you can't tongue or your throat is stopped up. Both are true: you can't tongue because you can't get any air through your closed throat. I
remember a student who wouldn't even talk to me because he was so sure he had tongue paralysis.

Easy for me to say and maybe hard for you to do, but don't let there be a pause or throat closure between inhale and blow. The breathe-blow should be as continuous as a good violinist's changing bow direction.

You might practice playing with no tongue attack. That usually bypasses throat closure. Then you might alternate tongue and no-tongue attacks. Don't avoid tonguing so much that you can no longer do it well. On the other hand,
perfecting no-tongue attacks is a great help in veeeery smooth playing. The scary "Rienzi" solo might be much better with a practiced no-tongue attack.

Trumpet seems to be a tension inducing instrument for a lot of us. I don't think trb and tuba players have the Valsalva problem as much or as badly as we do. Don't know about horn players.

The Valsalva Maneuver often shows up after a little layoff. Your timing is a little off. You start back--especially a legit-only player--playing with too much care, too much attempt to be neat. You tignten up. Most of us need a
routine that will get us out of the glottal stop when it appears.

At one point in my life I practically had to learn to do everything again with a new approach. I spent a lot of time on scales from low notes with no tongue, especially no tongue on the first note. Some of the early Claude Gordon low/high exercises are good for getting the air going without including the glottal stop.

John Glasel's "Relaxation Techniques" may help eliminate the glottal stop. He has you exhaling to a "neutral" point and then playing. At the "neutral" point you are past the place in your breath/blow where you would close your throat.
Glasel's address and source of his 3 little volumes is:
168 Serpentine Rd,
Tenafly NJ 07670,

Roger McDuffie