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a BE journey of an inexperienced self-taught player



 
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supercow216
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Joined: 02 Nov 2018
Posts: 20
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:04 am    Post subject: a BE journey of an inexperienced self-taught player Reply with quote

Part 1. I want to share with you my experience with BE embouchure. It is a bit long, with ups and downs. I hope many of you, especially inexperienced self-taught trumpet players, share or recognize the same feelings here and there.

I picked up the trumpet nearly 2 years ago.
I am not a self-taught player myself. I have a classical trumpet teacher and he focused mostly on breathing, sound and solfege. I am a player with so-called protrude top lip and naturally I always played with "kissing" lips with very low mouthpiece placement. As exactly described in BE book, I always made beautiful sound up to G right above the staff and then dead. But the lips are extremely prone to injury, and if I had gigs (I played in a French street fanfare, so the louder the better), oh boy, it is painful.

Probably because of the good sound that my teacher did not correct me at first. After 8 months of playing, we tried making embouchure formed by making "P" or "M" but it did not work. The top lip always feel unrooted or insecure that it eventually sticks to the mouthpiece for security. Then my pain goes on and on.

On January 2019, I get my hand on the balanced embouchure, with so many testimonies about it. I was pumped and order one. It is quite hard to get it in Europe but I finally got it from Jacob (in Netherland?). Roll-out was easy. Lip clamp also felt right since the top lip now feels secured at least. I managed to squeak by FORCING MY BREATHE REALLY HARD . Yes, it sounds now in hindsight stupid, but the roll-in lip position, in its extreme as instructed, involuntarily engages a lot of neck muscles, which cause tension, a.k.a. bad everything. I ignored it and thought it is a muscle strength problem and it will go away with enough practice. The same with Tongue on Lips, as it is a bit unnatural to stick the tongue out while playing, there is extra tension on the throat, thus, bad sound, thus frustrations. Roll-in exercise is okaish, I could not play middle G clearly, so at least some progress is there. Advanded lip slur, not terrible, up to high G and dead-end (exercise 3).

Thanks to the enthusiastic atmosphere in the BE forum, I kept on going for 6 months. I managed to play with my lip tucked under the mouthpiece. I had less injuries after gigs. But sound quality is extremely inconsistent, I felt that I would be forever stuck in the high G (yes I play higher but high G is usable threshold) and that is detrimental mentally for me. I thought of quitting trumpet at times or switch to saxophone (hahahahahaha!!!).

(to be continued)
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I am still learning!


Last edited by supercow216 on Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:10 am; edited 2 times in total
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supercow216
Regular Member


Joined: 02 Nov 2018
Posts: 20
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 2: ok, based on my reading on the forum, I am sure many of you here at some point have an confused experience of a fused embouchure, that is not quite functional. Let me called it the "tensed balanced embouchure", as I need to a lot attention to follow the lip movement.

I spent a month of my vacation in May 2019, gig-free, just to focus on making the roll-in embouchure works. I only works on making middle-G long tone the whole day. Between that is roll-in, roll-out… again, it was stupid in hindsight… After wasting a month, I return back to the tensed balanced embouchure, with mental pain instead of physical pain.

Last month I gave up on the BE, and focus entirely on my breathing to get rid of the tension. Breathing gym, claude gordon, wedge breathing (I practiced wedge breathing for a few months earlier, but it seems to increase tension mostly and only help with high notes, above high G). Thanks to the power of the internet, you can find over 1000 of sources on how you should breathe, posture, embouchure, yoga. Until I come across this video by Paul (Trumpet Takeaway):

Quick Trumpet Warm-Up:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_JHHMC33GY
Don't Blow Your Trumpet
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zmGHEeIJPQ

So trumpet playing is just SIGHING!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK enough of gloomy text for now, yesterday, I practice sighing for the whole day and practice BE with it. It is almost like a god-sent revelation! Here is my experience for today morning:

1. I did a Caruso 6 notes with BE. The lips first touch each other in a normal position, then the check slightly puff out and the sound pop out nicely. Ahaa, I feel something good.
2. Tongue on lip: Suddenly when trying to TOL with just sighing, the lip formed BE naturally, and there is no need to press any lip muscle further. What amazed me is that even at the lower note (C,D), the lip aperture is automatically reduced, making there notes very secure. As I go higher to high G, the lip automatically adjust to accommodate high notes, and I don't even need to raise the tongue arc!
3. Lip slur, advance lip slur all go smooth now. I feel that I hardly need to move the lip, but rather it moves on it own. Again, no tension is required while playing, not sighing.
4. Lip clamp. I just tuck the lips on top of the teeth and sigh. Again a high not pop out without much throat or neck tension.

What makes me so happy is that with BE, all the notes are so secure! And I can definitely improve upon that. I thank Jeff and you all for that.

Hei, I may be loving BE again.
Hei, I just hit a high F from low C .

(next post, I will try to summarize my taken-home lesson after this arduous rollercoaster with BE)
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trumpetteacher1
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Joined: 11 Nov 2001
Posts: 3086
Location: Garland, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2019 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey there,

Thanks for the good words! I was going to wait until Part 3, but I guess your evaluation process is not yet complete.

While I am happy that you have (seemingly) found a solution to your excess tension problem, I am also surprised that you did not ever contact me. We likely could have resolved the problem in a couple of days.

The sighing videos that you are crediting with your breakthrough are basically the same approach that I advocate in the book. You start the RI exercises with an air hiss, and breathe thru the nose until a note begins to sound. In the book, the reader is told that tight corners can be a problem, and extensive instructions are given to "unlock" those corners. Between unlocking the corners (page 84). allowing air pockets (page 84), and using less mouthpiece pressure (page 86) there are several instructions provided to help combat unnecessary tension.

However, books can't cover every specific issue or interpretation. That is why I offer free support. Probably my biggest disappointment in the response to BE, is that players who grow frustrated and give up virtually NEVER contact me. I evaluate videos, and provide email support (and extra materials) for free. Using that process, I continue to have breakthroughs with players on a regular basis, so I know that it can be a big help.

Anyway, thanks for posting. Glad you are finally finding success!

Jeff
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supercow216
Regular Member


Joined: 02 Nov 2018
Posts: 20
Location: France

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Jeff,

I was writing the first two posts during the euphoria with my experiences, then my wife yanked me to the lindy hop class I never found time to continue with the writing. At times, I struggled a bit to find again the balanced feeling (3 days with it) but I know what I should aim for and begin to make sense of how to achieve it again.

I think your book should be treated as a handbook, which should be read and reread before every exercise. It helped a lot mentally, and that's why I stick with it for such a long time.

My mistake was probably considering RI and lip clamp as just isometric exercises (but I will write my experiences soon abt this). Not all problems are gone, but the road ahead is definitely brighter!

trumpetteacher1 wrote:
Hey there,

Thanks for the good words! I was going to wait until Part 3, but I guess your evaluation process is not yet complete.

While I am happy that you have (seemingly) found a solution to your excess tension problem, I am also surprised that you did not ever contact me. We likely could have resolved the problem in a couple of days.

The sighing videos that you are crediting with your breakthrough are basically the same approach that I advocate in the book. You start the RI exercises with an air hiss, and breathe thru the nose until a note begins to sound. In the book, the reader is told that tight corners can be a problem, and extensive instructions are given to "unlock" those corners. Between unlocking the corners (page 84). allowing air pockets (page 84), and using less mouthpiece pressure (page 86) there are several instructions provided to help combat unnecessary tension.

However, books can't cover every specific issue or interpretation. That is why I offer free support. Probably my biggest disappointment in the response to BE, is that players who grow frustrated and give up virtually NEVER contact me. I evaluate videos, and provide email support (and extra materials) for free. Using that process, I continue to have breakthroughs with players on a regular basis, so I know that it can be a big help.

Anyway, thanks for posting. Glad you are finally finding success!

Jeff

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I am still learning!
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