Wednesday, August 10, 2011


In a horn forum, Steve M. asked:
...I searched "balanced embouchure" on YouTube and all I found was a bunch of demented trumpet owners making horrible farting and screeching noises, so far I haven't heard any tone. Wassup with that?
Good question, Steve, although it may be a little insulting to trumpeters! ;o) There is a good reason BE exercises don't sound so pretty. What you see on YouTube are exercises specifically designed to develop tone while traversing the registers with the fullest range of motion possible. They are awkward by design and especially difficult to execute with a pleasing tone. Striving for and meeting this challenge enhances the player's ability to adapt the embouchure under the less extreme circumstances of "normal" playing. See: EXTREME EMBOUCHURES!

For an example of a fine musician who has used BE exercises for quite a number of years to keep his embouchure in top condition, see the links below. You may recognize Uwe Zaiser, the piccolo trumpeter and soloist, as the same gentleman who posted several BE exercises on YouTube. After viewing these clips, I doubt anyone would regard Uwe as a "demented trumpet owner."

Practicing BE exercises is like a football player running agility drills at practice. When it's game time, the athlete is better prepared for the rigors of the game. Like the BE exercises, you don't see the agility exercises in actual performance, but you do see the results of the training.

Exercising in the extremes to develop skills is not a new concept, but as far as I know, this has not previously been applied to horn pedagogy in this particular way. I suppose that's why some still considered BE controversial.

And, BTW, to answer the assertion one horn player has made that BE exercises will "damage" the embouchure, please note there is no evidence of damage in these clips nor in the experiences I've had working with over 200 horn and trumpet players studying BE for the past five years. As a matter of fact, brass players with "damaged" embouchures and health have testified that BE has helped them recover. (For examples see: Andrew Joy, Dave Stoller, lip swelling.)

I anticipate The Balanced Embouchure or a watered down variant will eventually be taught to brass players everywhere. Along these lines, Sandra Clarke wrote:

I believe that within ten years (less if there is any justice and fairness out there…), everyone will be teaching your concept of lip rolling – if not the entire spectrum of your method. (

Also see:  "Circus Trick" or Developmental Tool?
Also see:  EXTREME Embouchures!

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