Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fear and the Embouchure

"Fear is a great multiplier of embouchure problems," wrote Jeff Smiley on the Trumpet Herald Balanced Embouchure Forum.
Below is a private email I received from CM, one of our fellow BE students that plays horn. CM's experience perfectly demonstrates how fear can interfere with embouchure function and what can be done to alleviate it. I believe CM's insights and coping strategies can be a valuble example for us all, so with her permission I share them below. I'm grateful that CM is allowing us this treasured glimpse into the intimate side of her horn playing life. [Location details removed.]

"Hello Valerie, ... I just came back from [the city] shows last night. We had 4 shows, I did very well for two, not so great for two. I don't think it was due to my embouchure. My embouchure worked very well. I think for the last show I did not do well, it was due to my mental tension. Our top manager came our show last night. I was nervous for some reason, therefore, I felt my fingers and lips were a little "out of control" for a few moments. When I focused on the music only, I was back normal.
"During those days in [the city] (even on the day we had two shows) I kept practicing BE. I want to feel confident that my embouchure was strong enough. I got up very early in the morning to practice BE. And when everyone was practicing during the day, I meditated Falun Gong to rest myself. It worked very well. I see your point about RI#3 and #4 and RO#4. I also applied my horn teacher's method--singing the notes. I tried to sing the notes and forget about embouchure or lip change--let the lips to do the RI and RO by itself. It worked well when I was very focused on the music.
"Overall, I am happy with my tone and volume for the shows during the tour. I still need to work hard on RI/RO coordination and range. The other day I found Wagner's Long Call was a good exercise for "melting" RI/RO. I will keep working on it. Thanks again. Take care,CM"

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