Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Four Months into BE

A lot of people ask how long before they see improvements from BE.  Here's an good example from someone who began studying The Balanced Embouchure in September 2012.  I received this in an email today:  

Valerie, I'm extremely pleased with the strap and the BE method. I have a larger upper lip and has taken some time developing the new technique particularly the roll in but my range and endurance is so much better and appears to do nothing but improve every time I practice.Thanks!
Dannie Smith,PT,ECS

I'm grateful for the feedback, Dannie!

The strap Dannie is referring to above is the Comfy Horn strap.  See this link: http://comfyhornstrap.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


It's fun and very satisfying to see a horn player who's lost his range for whatever the reason, find it again with the concepts Jeff Smiley presents in The Balanced Embouchure.  Andy's not only recovered lost ability, but has progressed beyond his previous abilities. I  received this email from Andy only yesterday.  (BTW, take the time to check out his concerto linked below.  It's darn cool.)  

Hi Valerie
Thanks for sending me all the BE stuff. I haven't followed the prescribed programme really but I read the text thoroughly and the 3D aspect of embouchure had never really been in my mind.   I wrote to you on October 8th...

...Struggling with an embouchure that goes from pedal D to F at the top of the stave with no problem whatsoever, but can't get above an A on a good day - even though a couple of years ago I could play top Ds on a good day!!

I have played my own exercises for roll out and in and spent much driving time looking like an old man or daffy duck!! No surprise really, but what I got from the BE book made the exercises I was given by Tony Halstead make sense. (He gave me a couple of lessons when I bought a second hand Paxman off him). I am now aware that there are muscles in my top lip that were completely unused!

I only do a bit of occasional amateur playing (I concentrate on conducting and composing these days when I'm not running a school music department) and have had no gigs since the end of November so was able to throw myself into it without fear of disrupted embouchure problems.

I have just played Mozart concerto No 2 and No 3 back to back (previously, the first movement of either would have finished me off.) After finishing I played a three octave Bb arpeggio and held the top Bb for a couple of bars. I am so grateful that for the first time in my life I am starting to be able to play in a way I'd only dreamed of. I'm sure I've still a long way to go and playing orchestrally will be the real test in a couple of weeks but at least now I have enough stamina to do enough practice to improve my playing. In the past it seemed that the more practice I did the worse I got! The top Ds have returned on a good day but I have even squeaked a couple of top Fs since reading the BE book. I can start a pedal C without slurring down to it and a couple of days ago I was able to start a pedal B on the F side and slur down to a Bb!!

I've pasted a link to the horn concerto 'Orion' that I wrote last year for Richard Watkins (ex-principal of Philharmonia now top UK session player and soloist).  

Best Wishes
Andy Meyers