Date: Sat, 31 Jan 1998 11:23:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Kimberly Stephans <>
Subject: LONG! Re: my mystifying embouchure(and other random stuff)...

Gotta chime in on this one,

I think I understand where y`all are coming from with the advice to move away from the mirror -- "paralysis thru analysis" and all that
stuff.  I have to come clean, though: I admit it, it's true, I'm an analyzer.

I like to think things through, including analyzing my playing.  I've never been paralyzed by it, though.  The trick is to learn when it's
appropriate to turn on the analysis machine, and when you should let it rest.

I studied with an Adam student who always was telling me to get my mind out of my trumpet playing, and just let the sound be my guide.
"Let the body fix itself, just hear in your head the sound you want and let the body do it's thing to make that sound."  No analysis, no
suggestions on some basic mechanical things that might have made it easier for me to create that sound I was searching for.

For some people, that approach might work.  For me, it didn't.  I've since learned to let the sound be my guide -- *and* let the mirror be
my guide -- *and* let the way the chops look and feel be my guide -- but not all at once.  Sound ALWAYS matters, but sometimes you may have to use other tools to help you get that sound, including analysis and mirror-watching.

If there is an obvious problem with the embouchure, why not go about fixing it systematically and mindfully?  Relying on the body to do it
automatically as you strive for a certain sound seems to me to be wasted time and effort.  If the problem that was described (bunched
chin, airstream pointed almost straight downward) is in fact holding the student back, why make her re-invent the wheel on her own (so to
speak) when a teacher could show her a few basic mechanical things she could do to help her achieve a correct embouchure through mindful and careful practice in front of a mirror?  All the while, of course, keeping the sound concept firmly in her mind.

To that end, I really liked the advice given by Bryan Edgett.  Those   kinds of practical suggestions are what has helped me more than anything in my playing -- again, along with learning to always keep the SOUND as the most important thing on my mind.

(hopping down off my soapbox and scurrying back to the practice room!)