Many jaw harp players, even the most accomplished, have been plagued for years by a particular dilemma affecting the practice of playing: How can I coax new, previously unheard sounds from my jaw harp? It is an already well-known fact that jaw harp players who have an instrument that matches their physique are able to produce better sounds. New findings from the field of osdemetry (the study of mouth measurement) give reason to hope for a breakthrough in tuning the jaw harp to match the physical characteristics of each individual player. For one thing is certain: unless the player's physique and the musical instrument are in tune, any attempt to create a new sound is pointless. Here we will show the methods of measuring the volume of your mouth accurately, down to the exact millimetre, and how you can enlarge the size of your oral cavity by means of special exercises.
For all those of you who don't want to leave anything to chance, who put your faith in physicians and who want to be measured down to the nearest nanometre, we recommend that you consult your oral surgeon. There you can have a professional oral cavity measurement carried out. Osdemetriologists can also help you to measure your oral cavity but that can however often be very expensive. Here we would like to show you how you can help yourself using a method for which you only need a measuring jug and a litre of water. Have a pencil and paper ready to note down the results of the measurement. Best of all, carry out the measurements in front of the mirror in your bathroom.
The measurement starts with the smallest capacities and concludes with the largest capacities possible. For measurement/value 1, pout your lips forwards as if you wanted to give someone a kiss. While doing this, you can use your lower jaw to help you and push it forward a little. In this position, carefully take as much water into your oral cavity as the position will allow. Then return the water directly back into the measuring jug and note down how much water was in your mouth. Measurement/value 2 is taken by forming the vowel "a", while keeping your lips closed at the same time. Now take water into your oral cavity until you can't get any more in, spit it out into the empty measuring jug and record the value in your table. Carry out this exercise with the vowels "e", "i", "o" and "u" in order to obtain the values 3 to 6. The seventh value indicates the maximum amount of water you can accommodate in your oral cavity. Puff your cheeks out as far as they will go and then pour water into your oral cavity until it threatens to spurt out of your lips. Measure this amount with the measuring jug, too.
When grading the measurements, the rule of thumb is: The greater the volume in your mouth is, the more surprising the sounds are that you can produce using the jaw harp. Furthermore, follow the rule that the smaller the volume of your mouth, the smaller the jaw harp you choose should be. Mouths with large volumes are particularly suited to the sounds of deep, in other words large, jaw harp models. Please find more accurate values in the following table:
A large oral cavity volume allows for a wide range of sounds and tones on the jaw harp; some players even adjust the basic tone of the jaw harp upwards or downwards by as much as a full note. If, after carrying out the measurements, you find that you have an oral cavity volume which seems to you to be too small, then help is close by: osdemetriologists have developed a method of training exercises designed to increase the size of the oral cavity. Of course, one can also attend training courses given by osdemetry experts. People who want to take the first steps in teaching themselves can begin with this easy warm-up exercise:
Press your lips tightly together so that no air can escape. After that fill your mouth with air. You will feel your cheeks fill with air. Now try to fill the area of the upper lip with air, too, followed by the lower lip. Hold this position for five seconds. Repeat this exercise three times in succession. If you are doing this exercise for the first time, check in the mirror to see whether all areas between cheek, upper lip and lower lip are evenly filled with air. Do this exercise regularly over a period of about 3 months and you will, according to current studies, achieve an average increase in volume of 7 ml.
We hope that our article has been able to shed a little light on this highly-complex subject, one which is of great interest to players of the jaw harp.
... and a quick look at the publishing date reveals the truth... ;-p