The main thing I remember from your first reply, was that age was not my issue. That had to have been nearly seven years ago, and today I am approaching seventy years old, and my chops have never been in better shape! You were so right, and I am so grateful for your encouragement back then. The thing I believe age has influenced, is how long it takes to get to the same place a younger person would take. The good news is that consistent practice and dedication can still get you there.
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He divides his text into two basic sections, an overview followed by his specific exercises. The book is physically put together very well.
Additionally, Smiley has made much of the text from his book available on his web site, including excerpts from his Introduction and chapters on Mechanics , Performance , and even some of his exercises. I showed this chapter to a friend who is a licensed S. She found several misleading or false statements just skimming through a couple of pages. This book would be much stronger if he simply removed this chapter entirely, as Smiley is clearly not qualified to give medical advice neither am I, for that matter, consult with your doctor.
My main complaint with his description of proper embouchure mechanics is his revolutionary hypothesis that tight corners create a flat chin and that this is only useful for 3 in 10 players. Since my embouchure research and that of most others suggest completely opposite, Smiley has the burden of proof here.
This correlates with embouchure problems too, by the way. Briefly, Smiley feels that positioning the tongue at times so that it touches the lips can provide valuable feedback and help position the embouchure appropriately. The exercises Smiley gives in his book are mostly variations of typical brass technique exercises, including lip slurs and tonguing exercises.
The more unique exercises rely heavily on playing pedal notes. His instructions with this regard I find particularly troubling. With the exception during the pedal tones, they look perfectly fine to me. Perhaps this player is doing it wrong.
The next thing I would point out is how this player slides the mouthpiece to a lower placement every time he moves out of the pedal range.
However, I question the value taking valuable practice time to work on playing in a way that risks causing problems.
This sort of embouchure switch in the normal playing range almost always causes issues. Notice also how this player always stops to take a breath at the same point in the range between E and G on the top of the staff and in doing so is allowing himself to reset his embouchure.
I note that of the three basic embouchure types, Very High Placement trumpet players seem to derive the most benefit from practicing pedal tones with fewer of the associated problems.
Trumpet players who have the anatomy that makes one of the other two embouchure types work best would probably find practicing these exercises even more likely to lead to problems than a Very High Placement type, including setting the mouthpiece higher on the lips than they should be for the particular player. It is, rather, supposed to be a set of exercises that systematically bring about an efficient embouchure for all players.
Without having a good understanding of brass embouchure function, practicing the exercised contained in The Balanced Embouchure are going to be hit or miss at best.
It might help some but others will find it counterproductive. I simply wanted to put out my honest criticisms in the hope that someday Smiley or someone else can address them. Before forming your own opinion about The Balanced Embouchure you should read what Smiley has made available on his web site. The Trumpet Herald Forum has an entire section dedicated to The Balanced Embouchure moderated by Smiley himself, so you should be able to find a more accurate depiction about it than I can offer , there are a couple of other YouTube videos here and here , and even a horn blog devoted to it.
What misconceptions do I need to correct? What online resources have I missed? Please leave your comment below or contact me privately.
The Balanced Embouchure for Horn