Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 17:40:17 EST
Subject: Re: [TPIN] ..double pedal C, and G above the staff..

Hey Eddie,

I was not offended. My lack of response was due to a sudden severe illness, then a shortage of time due to getting so far behind in my work, which eventually turned into the final reason: by the time I was caught up, the topic seemed too old to comment on.

BTW - I was not around TPIN when you supposedly "ran off" Carlton MacBeth, but I suspect that there was more to the story.  Around that time, he also became extremely ill and almost died. He is very old now, and still relatively feeble. Chances are, he left TPIN because he couldn't deal with energy to took to keep up with all the posts. And I can relate to that!

Anyway, since you reopened to topic, I will respond.  But I do not expect to change your mind.

I get emails every week that read like this:

"Jeff - I am a 38 year old trumpet player who has always felt insecure about my range.  None of my teachers talked much about embouchure.  They helped me with my breathing and sound concepts.  As a result, I have always had a good tone.  I play 2nd part in a local symphony, and the other players are always complimentary of my tone and musicality.  But I remain frustrated, as my range has remained - forever! - at about a C# or D above the staff, and thosenotes are sometimes iffy.  At this point, I am willing to try anything to get to the next level.  Will your book help me?"

Eddie, as the title of my book may indicate, I am an EMBOUCHURE GUY. At  least, that's how I think that you would label me, even though I'm really not sure what an EMBOUCHURE GUY is.  Apparently, you know some teachers who only  teach embouchure, and have nothing remotely musical to offer.

How many EMBOUCHURE GUYS are really that one-dimensional?  My experience is  exactly the opposite - that I know a lot a teachers who know absolutely nothing about embouchure, but give out chops advice anyway, which leads the student into the most inefficient ways of playing imaginable.

I end up helping some of those misguided players. If that makes me an EMBOUCHURE GUY, then I celebrate the designation!

But it gets deeper.

Not only am I an EMBOUCHURE GUY, but I teach the same general embouchure to every player!  Over the years, I isolated certain exercises that I found to be universal in nature, that worked for everyone.  Eventually, as the puzzle pieces fell into place, I figured out the whole thing, a complete embouchure development method that works for every single player.  No, I don't claim that it is the ONLY way for a player to develop.  There are lots of good players out there using different embouchure settings.  I just say that my approach will work for everyone, regardless of their lip architecture, or regardless of whether or not they can do a free lip buzz (my students don't do free buzzing).

Before the howls of derision hit, let me remind everyone reading this that I used to be a pretty good DSFDF (different strokes for different folks) teacher.  The problem was, DSFDF was (and is) the most impractical way of teaching ever devised.

You will never find enough teachers who are knowledgeable enough to tailor their approach so that it perfectly fits the individual differences in the students.  Eddie, maybe you can do it - and I say maybe, because are you 100% successful? - but there are not enough Eddie Lewis' to go around.  Or Clint McLaughlins, of Jeanne Pocius', and so on.

There are 10s of thousands of new players EVERY YEAR in the US alone. Band Directors have the primary responsibility to get these kids off to a good start.  But they are overwhelmed with the numbers, and don't know how to do it.

My experience is that up to 70% of all players learn to play with an inefficient embouchure (Armando Ghitalla said 75%, based upon his experience and extensive research in Ann Arbor). That's a lot of kids who are forced into a bunch of unnecessary psychological trauma, which often continues into adulthood.  It's a tremendous waste of human potential, yet is virtually ignored by everybody, and treated as "part of growing up."

This is the reality that I look at every day. It's my motivation, because it is a situation which can be corrected - maybe not in my lifetime, but eventually.

I can easily teach Band Directors my method. It's so easy that anybody can learn it. The Directors will not have to worry about individual physical differences.  They don't have time, anyway.

You are right in expressing the rather obvious statement that embouchure development is an ongoing process, that further refinement continues to occur according to the differences inherent within each player.  What you have apparently missed are the SIMILARITIES.  There really are basic physiological similarities between all players, that can be expressed through UNIVERSAL  embouchure development mechanics.  A good early foundation is worth an  incalculable amount to the student.  And it's easier to develop it than has been previously supposed.

I submit that your experiences as a teacher have been similar to mine, but  that your personality has led you to different conclusions.

Still, I continue to enjoy your posts.  Your passion and sincerity comes through loud and clear.  Also, your point of view helps me to refine my own sometimes different point of view.

Thanks for continuing the conversation!

Jeff Smiley