Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Practicing BE

I just received an enthusiastic response and a great question from Ron Chao who started BE the last week of October. With his permission I'll share it below:

"hey valerie! just wanted to update you on my progress. The BE book is amazing and I am already seeing great improvements in my playing. Just a quick question about practicing. Even though Jeff has specific lesson plans outlined at the end of his book, is there any harm in playing through all the exercises in the book in one day or would I risk hurting my lips? thanks again for everything and have a merry christmas and happy new year too! ron"

RON! Thank you very much for the positive feedback. I'm very happy to hear you're doing well. If you feel ready to play through all the Roll-out/Roll-In exercises in a row, go for it. You'll soon figure out if it's too much for you! ;o) Plan to try this at a time when you don't have critical rehearsals or performances soon after.
When you have the skill to play all the Roll-Out and Roll-In exercises, you may lack the endurance and efficiency to tolerate them all every day. If this is the case, you can rotate or abbreviate them to accommodate your needs. For example: you might try 2 repetitions (valve combinations) of each one every day. Or you may do Roll-Out's one day, and Roll-In's the next. The Advanced Lip Slurs can be approached in the same manner; just a few every day or as many as you can, all in a row once or twice a week.

One BE student, a busy mom with young children, is very limited in the time she has to practice. She has progressed very nicely focusing specifically on one Roll-Out and one Roll-In exercise a day. As your efficiency improves, you'll be able to develop a BE routine that best suits your needs. Personally, I do the basic eight BE exercises every day plus several selected Advanced Lip Slurs. When time permits, I like to do the Roll-Out/Roll-In plus the Advanced Lip Slurs all in a row. It's a handy and effective assessment tool to evaluate my progress.
Below are a couple questions about practicing BE I've addressed in the past that may be helpful:
Q: How much time should I be spending on BE each day?
A: For the very beginner one Lip Clamp and a few Lip Clamp Squeaks a day is plenty. After that, as one becomes more comfortable, 2 or 3 minutes on Roll-Out and 2 or 3 minutes on Roll-In may be best. Plan to gradually build up, but don't over do. Michael Camilleiri, a long time BE trumpeter, frequently reminds BE students that "BE is not boot camp!" Take it easy, build & grow gradually, and "BE patient."
Q: How long does BE take to improve my embouchure?
A: Unseen "internal" improvements will begin the moment you start working on your first Lip Clamp. But most BE students report obvious "external" improvements in their regular playing after 8 to 12 weeks, for others it may take longer.
Valerie Wells
The BE book and BE exercises adapted for French horn are available directly from me. Email me for information: Wells123456 at Juno.com (If you live outside North and South America, I can connect you with a BE representative in your corner of the globe. My adapted exercises for horn are available free of charge to all horn players studying BE regardless of location.)

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