Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Notion of Unifying the Embouchure

The BE development system has exercises in two main categories: (1) the extreme roll-out which favors low notes, (2) the extreme roll-in which favors high notes. The exercises challenge the player to push the envelop of embouchure function by extending the range within the categories. The roll-out embouchure exercises start on double pedals and ascend as far as possible upwards with the roll-out set up. The roll-in exercises mirror image this by extending use of the roll-in embouchure into the lowest possible range.

The goal of BE is to use these and other exercises, plus specific tonguing and breathing techniques to give the brass player the technical skill to use a continuous flexing of the lips to navigate the full range of the instrument minimizing and ultimately eliminating awkward embouchure changes.

In the quote below, David G. aptly described this goal as "unifying the embouchure" in his memory of a past insight that embodies a key principle of the BE development system:

For some unknown reason . . . I remembered that years ago someone wrote to the horn list about having a break in embouchure somewhere in the midst of our tessitura - a point where he/she had to change embouchures. I wrote in to recommend practicing playing a simple scale from the bottom to see where the break occurred, then playing a scale from the top down to see where the break occurred, and assuming that there was overlap - there had to be - that it was worthwhile to extend those breakpoints as much as possible until it might happen that there would no longer be any break point. There was a bit of other advice, but the one that stood out in my mind was the one that pooh-poohed the notion of unifying the embouchure. Well, that's a chortle. I guess the idea was a very primitive first pass at BE.
Thanks for sharing, David.

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