Monday, June 27, 2011

San Francisco was GREAT!

What a wonderful week we had in San Francisco last week for the 43rd International Horn Symposium! My sweet husband came along to lend general support and help with book keeping. Doug Wagner stayed close by lending moral support and helping promote the BE message. I enjoyed getting better acquainted with Steve and Lorna Park. (We'd only met once before the symposium in April of 2010.) And, I seriously enjoyed meeting some of my BE for horn friends face to face, and was thrilled to welcome more horn players (and even one tuba player) to the BE group! I learned much from the many horn players who stopped by my exhibit to chat and share experiences.

I believe the symposium this year was historic. It's probably the first time in IHS history that a embouchure method written for trumpet has been formally introduced at a symposium for horn players! Pretty cool, huh?

Steve Park (with precious little assistance from me) really knocked the BE message out of the park with his presentation. In Power Point, he showed dramatic "before" and "after" pictures of his embouchure. The "before" picture showed a mass of soft flesh protruding from under his top lip which had at one time prevented him from developing an efficient high range. The "after" picture showed how the problem was corrected by rolling in. This was graphic proof of one benefit the roll in exercises can provide.

Steve believes that about 2/3 of his students have a mass of soft flesh that protrudes from under the top or even both lips. He also believes that most great brass players who are "naturals," don't have a this problem which enables them to play the full range without the need for much rolling in.

Steve also showed a video of 12 middle school students each playing a "double pedal" F (our fundamental) followed immediately by a high C. Undeniable proof that anyone, any age can learn BE & develop expansive playing range. (Don't expect this video to appear on you-tube. It would require permission from 12 parents before this could happen.)

One of the BE students on horn, a gentleman pushing 80 years old, asked me for a BE lesson. He had felt insecure in his progress so did not allow me to use his name for promotional purposes. In our lesson, he played RO#4, starting on double pedal F (fundamental F on the Bb horn) and slurred all the way up to high F above high C while solidly nailing every note in between. He did this without resetting, but rather in a smooth clean motion. Sheesh! I had to ask, "Exactly what part of BE isn't working for you?"

Another BE student I worked with played his RI exercises with such a lovely tone, he could easily use this as his normal performance embouchure provided he could learn to tongue efficiently with this set up.

Milton, a horn player (not a BE student) who played principal horn for many years told me of an experience that resonated with me. After attending our presentation Milton said he realized what he'd been doing for many years was actually a part of BE. (Well, of course! All successful brass players use the principles of BE whether they know it or not.) Milton had used a rolled in setting on both trumpet and horn which gave him a wonderful high range, but eventually it"morphed" into something too extreme to allow for flexibility. In other words, his chops became unbalanced and too heavy on the roll in side to be efficient. He was forced to go through a difficult embouchure change to correct it. I believe this could have been avoided or even corrected had Milton been practicing the BE roll-out and roll-in exercises consistently all along. (Too bad BE wasn't available back in the day for Milton.)

Another exciting happening came from David, a BE trumpeter in the San Francisco area, who came Thursday for our presentation. David brought a book describing the Maggio method. The descriptions of the Maggio method had a few striking similarities to the embouchure that trumpet players often develop studying BE. What was especially interesting was that David had studied Maggio's embouchure for 30 years, but in all those years never made the progress like he had in just two years of studying BE. This shows where Jeff Smiley's genius is. Jeff has taken the elements from past players as well as his own teaching experiences and organized these elements into a system that is so simple, even children can learn it.

And, BTW, David picked up my horn and played a fundamental pedal F, then slurred through the partials to a double high C -- each note with a nice full tone. Don't we just hate it when trumpet players do that? ha ha ha!

A representative from Conn-Selmer, a tuba player, was intriqued by BE so bought the book. I'm eager to hear how this works out for him. I know only one other tuba player who uses BE.

For all the BE newbies, I'm hoping to make email contact with each and everyone of you. Unfortunately, I don't have all your email addresses, and some of the email addressed I've tried have failed. So if you don't soon hear from me, please contact me by email at: ValerieW78 "at" gmail "dot" com.


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