It's long been a mystery to me how the Roll Out exercises (RO) could improve the upper register. It seems counter intuitive, but time and time again I get feedback of BE students claiming significant improvements in their upper register as well as the mid and low by practicing RO. I've come to accept the idea that whatever improves the embouchure will improve every aspect of it's performance. The following is an exchange I had with JB, a newbee to BE. Following this, I received insightful feedback from Dan whose experience is typical for BE students.
JP: The books and CD arrived safely. Roll out was easy - always had a pretty good low register.
Val: This is typical for horn players. RO is usually easy for most of us.
JP: Have been doing lip clamps. So far no lengthy squeak! Rats. If I get a squeak it lasts only two or three seconds, and definitely does not keep going if I put the horn to my lips - even gently. The sound I am getting in the horn sounds more like something dying.
Val: LOL! This is normal and expected. Some people can squeak beautifully, others can't. It doesn't matter. What does matter is this: first, you learn to roll your lips in and second, you learn to keep them rolled in while you blow air through them. The sound is less important than the technique and motion you will learn from practicing the exercise.
As you persist in this exercise, you will eventually learn how to keep your lips rolled in and produce a tone with the mouthpiece applied. The first tones are never beautiful. They oft times are messy with multiple buzz points. That's okay. It's only an exercise. Even now, after doing BE for 5 1/2 years, some days my RI exercises don't sound clear.... but I remember to tell myself, it's only an exercise. I have progressed very satisfactorily in spite of my not-so-pretty lip clamp squeaks and RI exercises.
JP: Has anyone else experienced no results after two days?
Val: Are you kidding? People struggle with this for weeks and months and work for years to perfect it. Don't worry. You're right on schedule.
JP: I'm hoping lip clamps will eventually provide enough strength to get a good squeak going.
Val: There's a little "strength" involved, but mostly executing the lip clamp squeak and the RI exercises is a matter of learning a technique that you will eventually be able to wrap your brain around.
JP: I majored in horn in college during the 50s, but could never develop the high register enough to consider a performance career. Did a career without playing horn, then, at age 72, took it up again after 50 years, bought an early Elkhart 8D, and now play in (location withheld). I like 4th horn just fine, but darn, I want endurance and a high register. I'm counting on BE.
Val: As you persist doing these exercises with extreme lip shapes, you will learn (both consciously and unconsciously) to "borrow" bits and pieces from these positions of RI and RO that can be applied to your regular playing to improve your range and endurance. Trust me, it works! :o) BE will deliver, but it takes time, persistence and patience.
Hang in there, you will succeed!
Dan's Feed Back
I would like to tell you of my experiences with BE.
I have been working my way very slowly through the exercises and have not progressed beyond RI and RO 3. I've worked on them intensively but sporadically for about 6 months but I can now say that I have noticed great improvements in the strength of my high register.
For some time I did not see any progress but I kept the faith and it seems to have paid off. It may be of interest to some students that the exercises that made most of the difference were the ROLL OUTS! I had assumed that I needed to work on Roll Ins for my high register but this was not so. For some reason the roll outs were much more effective for me. Of course I still do the Roll ins but it was the Roll Outs that enabled me to do the Roll Ins. [Italics added.]