Saturday, August 27, 2011

Me and BE

 "BE" is the short hand label for Jeff Smiley's "The Balanced Embouchure" approach to helping people with trumpet and horn embouchure, of which I'm a big fan and have posted on a number of times over the past couple of years. 

James Boldin has just done a post on it and here is part of the comment I put down below it. It's the best brief summary of my response to BE I've come up with so far.

Appreciate the open minded approach to Jeff Smiley’s work. I’ve been watching the debate on this for years, ever since getting his book and using his approach to get through an embouchure crisis that had me thinking about giving up the horn.

My sense of it all is that it can be very helpful for people looking to take a new direction due to the standard approaches not helping whatever issues they might be wanting to work through and who are willing to rebuild from the ground up.

For those for whom the standard approaches are working, though, a major overhaul and starting all over is something of a threatening prospect.

What I most appreciate about Jeff’s approach is that it helped me get a much broader and deeper understanding and feeling for what the embouchure can do and needs to do, and that helped me figure out what I needed to do to get everything working. He gives you the tools, but the responsibility is yours, and that’s a nice fit for how I like to work with people.

The other thing about Jeff’s approach I really like is that it goes well with all the neuroscience coming out saying how making music uses so many different areas of the brain, not all of which are always under our conscious control. His exercises helped me get a better sense of that when it comes to playing the horn.

My guess is that a lot of music educators don’t “get” what he’s up to because it’s so very difficult to look at something differently after a lifetime of building up something has worked for them. Besides, most people in the field are probably “naturals” to one degree or another and can’t really conceive what it’s like for the rest of us who aren’t. I’ll never be a natural horn player, but Jeff’s book helped me understand what that must be like and what I have to do to approximate it.

James says he's going to get the book and try it out. I look forward to his response and maybe talking with him about it. I'm also reminded I printed out Dave Wilken's somewhat riled up take down, with the idea of comparing it to the book the next time I reread it. The thing is that I've been having such a great time on the horn, particularly since my flow experience with the Fauré Requiem, I haven't felt a need for a refresher.

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