Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Embouchure Experience and Discovery

For some, The Balanced Embouchure system brings an overall, general improvement to the established embouchure by enhancing the various elements of playing such as range, endurance, tone, flexibility, security, accuracy, etc. But, for others, the BE system enables students to make major embouchure transformations as they discover fundamental flaws in and subsequent solutions to their embouchure settings. Such was the case for and Jonathan and me.

In my very first week on BE, I discovered a fundamental flaw in my set up. The flaw was not discernable to visual inspection, appeared ideal by Farkas standards, but did not deliver Farkas results. In spite of several years of qualified instruction, I only discovered the flaw when I began to practice the roll-in exercises in The Balanced Embouchure.

For Jonathan, it wasn't as quick. Jonathan struggled for months almost quitting at one point. After taking a little time off his horn, he came back fresh and began BE anew. That's when he discovered a critical element he needed while working with the roll-out exercises. Here are Jonathan's latest comments to add to his testimonial:

I'm still working with BE off and on (more off than on, lately) ... but it led me to an embouchure setting that gives me a much better tone, more flex, and more volume.... still working on the upper range. It is a much more relaxed setting and fits with my theory that it's more about discovering and practicing a setting that allow better playing with less work, rather than try to "muscle up" the notes with a poorly chosen embouchure. It also seems to explain why accomplished players "make it look so easy" .... because for them, it IS easy! And I don't believe it's just because of years of physical toning of the supporting muscles; I believe they have developed a setting that they can easily leverage to do whatever they want with tone, volume, range, pitch, etc.... Just my rambling thought here....

This reminds me of something I once heard in church: "There are some things that can not be taught ... these things can only be learned." I don't believe anyone could have directly taught, "shown" or described to Jonathan or me what a well functioning embouchure looked or felt like for us individually. But Jeff Smiley's simple exercises guided us to discover what we needed through a wide range of embouchure experiences provided in his method.

Thanks, Jonathan, for sharing your insights.
See original article, "Huge Breakthrough" with Roll-Out Exercises here.