Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eight Years on BE and Still Going

This is my original copy of BE purchased in 2006. 
It's been 8 years since I began studying BE.  Knowing how ADD I am and my history of flitting from one hobby to the next, I think it's amazing that I'm still playing horn.  For me, 8 years is a record for continuous engagement in one single, just-for-fun, creative endeavor.

Earlier this summer, I enjoyed playing pit orchestra for a local production of "The Sound of Music." And I'm definitely looking forward to another season with the Tacoma Community College orchestra and symphonic band.  And I'm hoping to play in the orchestra for local church productions of "The Messiah", "Lamb of God" and any other ad hoc music activities that come my way.  And I'm looking forward to many more years of horn playing.  I know, without any doubt, if it weren't for BE, I would have quit (again!) years ago.

My husband commented recently, "You'd be miserable without your music." He's right. I'm grateful for Jeff Smiley's huge contribution to my happiness.  "The Balanced Embouchure" has helped make horn playing a joyful and satisfying experience.


Cameron Kopf gave this feedback to this post on FaceBook:   

CONGRATS, Valerie Wells! Your sharing of this technique is valuable to the horn community, and it is gratifying to hear that it has helped you keep playing for 8 years!

BE has truly been one of the best things to happen in my playing over the past 2 years, both on trumpet and horn! I continue to evolve with it daily.

I am discovering over time that BE is a very fluid technique, enabling me to play both horn and trumpet with much more ease, and I incorporate various aspects of it in different playing situations.

After learning the basics and following the instructions as closely as possible for the first year, later on it is up to the individual to decide how to apply the techniques; it's not cookie cutter. The concepts of rolling-in and rolling-out forms the basis for all brass playing, really. It's all a matter of pacing and combining RI & RO techniques to fit the musical situation at hand.

As time goes on, it seems to be becoming more "fluid" for me, being able to shift between these techniques. And so, as a professional horn player, I have made good progress on the trumpet over the past 2 years.

I am firmly convinced that I would have NOT been able to achieve this progress without BE. Thanks again Valerie. 


  1. You would indeed be miserable. Know what you mean about the flitting. Lack of focus is my Achilles' tendon as well. Sigh.