An Open Letter To Lucinda Lewis of Embouchures.com

This is a repost of something that got lost in my recent server issue.  The issues I discuss in this open letter go beyond the specifics of my discussion with Lucinda Lewis (another post on this topic can be viewed here), so I cross posted it here.  Rather than simply repost it this time, I wanted to take a moment and offer some thoughts that may help readers put this letter into the broader context, which I feel is ultimately the more important issue.

During the course of conducting my research on brass embouchures, I’ve come across several cases of serious embouchure dysfunction and become interested in learning more about what is causing those problems and how they can be best treated.  Sifting through the wide variety of resources I happened to come across (ranging from medical, academic, musical, and just random stuff you can find on the internet), I’ve discovered that not only are recommendations for serious embouchure issues all over the map, but many of the experts seem to be completely unaware of each other.

I feel the scientific method provides us with the best model to follow here.  Not only does it require us to make an effort to falsify our hypotheses about embouchure dysfunction (only if it withstands this process can our research be accepted), but it also places a high emphasis on peer review and collaboration.  In all three areas, brass pedagogy has tended to drop the ball.  More importantly, the handful of individuals who are devoted to helping players with serious embouchure dysfunction are frequently basing their advice on philosophical, illogical, or on poorly understood or biased research methods.  In this particular area we can and should do better.

Although the following open letter is addressed to a specific person, I hope that others who do embouchure troubleshooting will take note and engage in a more collaborative and scientific approach.  In my humble opinion, when offering a form of therapy we have an ethical obligation to at least become familiar with what else is out there in order to put it into the proper context, not just for our students but also for our colleagues in the field.

Here then is my reposted open letter to Lucinda Lewis, author of Broken Embouchures and Embouchure Rehabilitation.   Continue reading An Open Letter To Lucinda Lewis of Embouchures.com

Salsa at Asheville’s Fiesta Latina 2011

If you’re in Asheville, NC this Saturday, October 8, 2011, stop on by the free Fiesta Latina at 7 PM and you can hear me play with a salsa band.  The other musicians in the band are Grant Cuthbertson (bongos and music director), Ozzie Orengo, Sr. (congas), Ozzie Orengo, Jr. (timbales), Ben Bjorli (bass), Daniel Barber (piano), Justin Ray (trumpet), and Whitney Moore (vocals).  We’ll be playing some standard salsa tunes for dancers and listeners alike, so if you like latin music and culture (or want to learn more about it) stop by the Fiesta Latina this Saturday.

Addin’ Down Performed by Western NC H.S. Honor Band

YouTube User “Topproducer50” forwarded me a video he posted of the Western North Carolina Region High School Honor Band, performing I think in February 2011.  My friend, Steve Alford, directed the group that year and took along some of my big band compositions, including one I wrote called Addin’ Down.

I didn’t get to make this concert, so it’s neat to be able to watch the videos that were recorded and hear how well the students performed.

Great performance, honor band students!

Using Rests In Embouchure Exercises

Last week I was working with a student and needed to find a quick exercise to have him play while working on keeping his chin from bunching up.  I grabbed my copy of Donald Reinhardt’s Pivot System Manual for Trombone and used an exercise from there.  Since then I have decided to change up my own routine again and go back to practicing from this book again daily.

The routine itself was designed so that each day the musician practices a different set of exercises (9 days total for the trumpet version, 11 days for trombone with the extra slide technique exercises).  Throughout there are some exercises that have measures of rests inserted.  Here’s an example.

On the surface this looks like many other embouchure development exercises, however the instructions Reinhardt suggests during the rests is unique.   Continue reading Using Rests In Embouchure Exercises