Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BE Update: Benefits Not Anticipated

Doug Wagner, a former professional trombonist turned hornist, began studying The Balanced Embouchure three years ago.  He emailed this to me this past weekend:  

I signed on to Facebook, which is not a regular habit for me, and found your post of comments from Jane Swanson. My takeaway was from her first two points: 
1. Even when I play to exhaustion I do NOT have swollen lips afterwards or the next day: so I can jump right back into action.  
2. In the midst of challenging playing, same story -- my chops recover if I give them a few seconds off.  That was not the case previously.
Yesterday, I endured a brutal two-and-a-half rehearsal featuring repeated, sub tempo rehearsal of high, loud passages. Even allowing for laying out at strategic points, I was burned out after two hours and struggled for the ability to play in the high range. Even so, I was able to finish the rehearsal in reasonably good shape by judicious rest, and by depending on my section. I chose not to play any more after I got home.

Today. I considered not playing at all, but I warmed up carefully and after a few minutes had all the flexibility and range that I've had previously. The conclusion I reached is that, I can recover quickly, if not completely, by a few seconds rest, and that the next day, I don't suffer prolonged fatigue. So, I will echo Jane's comments. BE had benefits not anticipated.

I'm 66 years old. If I could duplicate the benefits of BE with the rest of my body as it ages, I'd be the wonder of the Western world. I'm amazed at the progress I've made. A new horn doesn't hurt either.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Colin Ng, 14 Month Update

Dear Valerie,

In another 10 days it will be my 14th month anniversary of BE practice. I was then disabled due to a “guided” embouchure change and later in the year, broke my front tooth due to a hard grain. Before then, consistency of sound production was something I had to work very hard on, yet with very temperamental results.

After a year of dedicated BE practice, consistency of good sound production is now no longer a concern; and after the due efforts to make technique transparent, I am able to direct my thought to music aesthetics freely during rehearsals and performances.

I even came out with some original exercises based on BE concepts with crazy good results. Stamina is astonishing and range is still extending and climbing!
Playing the first movement of the Otto Nicolai duet no. 1 on both 1st and 2nd horn parts as an extended warm up is something that was unthought of; now it's a possibility.
Here are some thoughts on BE after a year:
  1. BE is not music but BE enables Music.
  2. Ease of play and good sound happens only after BE not during BE. Be need not sound good in practice, and is not to be used as a performance technique. BE is a conditioner.
  3. Even for my one day phenomenon a year ago, it is normal to have a slow start off that kicks off into exponential results over time.
  4. Hitting a plateau means hanging on to your BE even more religiously. Before you know it, you look back and realized that plateau is far behend you.
  5. Haters gonna hate. Some people will ask about how its done and yet reject BE even more due to their pre-conceptions. Let pre-conceptions bring them to hit their own brick wall. BE only work for people who need it; not simply want it.
Cheers to everybody and have a great day!

Yours sincerely,
Colin Ng

This note added 10/8/14:  Colin Ng is still enjoying BE and had been developing  his own exercises based upon BE principles.  See this.