Basic Shofar Technique

Posture and Breathing

    • airflow from lungs to mouth should be as easy as possible (no hindrances, unneeded obstacles)
    • puppet, yawn, cough method
      • puppet is straight, hanging from center string (use a wall to check straightness)
      • yawn (inhalation) diaphragm intake
      • cough (exhalation) diaphragm output
    • Puppet
      • straighten back
      • relax
      • align trachea
    • Yawn
      • pull diaphragm down
      • slowly suck air
      • hold it
    • Cough
      • control the outflow
      • blow slow

Blowing the shofar

    • buzzing
      • low toned “rasberry”
      • trumpet-like embouchure (a combination of smiling and puckering rather like the beginning of drawing the corners of mouth back and slightly up but stopping before the lips seperate, then blow to produce buzzing sound as bottom lip vibrates)
    • placement
      • maintain embouchure
      • shofar is placed against outside of lips (usually 2/3 lower lip and 1/3 upper lip) centered at middle of mouth.
      • never between lips or in mouth.
    • airflow
      • firm steady pressure
      • most people over blow in the beginning
      • consistent “raspberry” in volume and tone
      • adjust angle for best clarity of tone
    • lip tension
      • relaxed mindset
      • consistent embouchure

Notes

    • even an inexpensive shofar (yemenite) should be able to produce at least two notes (maybe even three in the right hands)
    • while specific shofars make slightly different notes (due to minor differences and imperfections inside),there are some commonalities
      • 36″ usually blows a bottom F then up to a C, then up to a higher F
      • 48″ usually blows a bottom Eb then up to a Bb, then up to a higher Eb
      • increased lip tension in the embouchure along with increased air pressure (steady) is the key to changing notes upward
      • learning (muscle memory) which tensions and air pressures is the key to moving back and forth predictably and controlably.
      • stacatto notes (used for shevarim and most often for the fast 9 set in a teruah, is best accomplished by maintaining steady air pressure and using the tongue to create a “tooo – tooo – tooo” or “ta – ta – ta” effect

Practice

    • avoid the mindset of practicing until you get it right.
    • Foster the mindset of practice until you can’t get it wrong.
    • One step at a time.
      • work on keeping a good note good
      • lengthen notes
      • start with a tekiah
      • move to longer tekiah’s
      • try a short shevarim (dont move to teruah until you have the shevarim down (to avoid learning bad habits)

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