The Balanced Embouchure: A Review

I’ve recently got a couple of email inquiries about my thoughts on Jeff Smiley’s text and trumpet method, The Balanced Embouchure.  I’ve gotten questions about it in the past, so I thought I’d reread this book and compile some of my thoughts here while they’re still fresh.

Published in 2001, Smiley’s book is 149 pages (5 1/2 inches by 8.5 inches).  He divides his text into two basic sections, an overview followed by his specific exercises.  The book is physically put together very well.  It’s spiral bound, contains several photographs and charts, and is accompanied by a CD of some of Smiley’s students performing many of the exercises contained in this text.  Smiley charges $45 plus $5 shipping.  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 could have done without Smiley’s chapter “Mind/Body.”  While it contains some common sense health advice (healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, keep your horn clean), a lot of it is highly questionable.  I showed this chapter to a friend who is a licensed S.T. (speech therapist).  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).

Smiley’s trumpet exercises are based around his philosophy of a “balanced embouchure,” detailed in his chapter on Mechanics.  However, the bulk of this chapter covers Smiley’s personal impressions and speculations based on playing sensations and don’t accurately depict what actually happens with a functioning embouchure.  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.  First of all, I’m skeptical whenever anyone starts to throw around statical data based purely on their personal impressions.  If Smiley used a properly controlled methodology to collect his data and a valid statistical analysis to come up with this figure he’s silent about it.  Since my embouchure research (and that of most others) suggest completely opposite, Smiley has the burden of proof here.  I imagine that most other brass teachers will want to see more than a summary of someone’s personal impressions before altering our instruction to something that is seen as doing more harm than good.  Particularly if you claim that your system “works for every trumpet player.”  If it’s so effective I’d expect to see at least a few really fine players around that have those embouchure characteristics, but I don’t.  Even among jazz brass players, who are much more likely to be self-taught and use what works, not what’s taught as “correct.”

Other elements from the Mechanics chapter are also questionable, although some of it may be related to a lack of accurate and common terminology to describe embouchure characteristics.  For example, what appears to be a “flat” chin on one player may not be the same look for someone else.  Glancing at the four photos of trumpet players on the cover of Smiley’s book shows one player whose chin looks OK to me (although her corners appear to be pulled back into a smile position, which correlates with range and endurance issues), but the other three examples have the muscles below their lower lip disengaged and moving separately from the bones of the chin (they have the characteristic “peach pit” look of a bunched chin).  This correlates with embouchure problems too, by the way.

Much of Smiley’s discussion about the use of the tongue are acknowledged to be greatly influenced by the teachings of Jerome Callet (who I’ll get around to discussing in more detail eventually).  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.  Again, since there are playing issues associated with doing this (more than just the split attacks that Smiley recognizes), I feel there may be better ways of getting the desired results that don’t risk the distortion of the embouchure formation when the tongue is regularly held in contact with the lips.

The exercises Smiley gives in his book are mostly variations of typical brass technique exercises, including lip slurs and tonguing exercises.  Some of his instructions and details for these exercises are unique to Smiley’s approach, such as his recommendation to “snap” the top note of an ascending to descending lip slur or tonguing on the lips.  The more unique exercises rely heavily on playing pedal notes.  His instructions with this regard I find particularly troubling.

Roll Out Lip Position

Smiley’s instructions for this “roll out” lip position is to pucker your lips, place the mouthpiece almost all on the top lip, roll the bottom lip out under the mouthpiece,and tilt the horn up.  Why this embouchure formation is valuable for practice I don’t understand.  I don’t feel that it has any benefit that outweighs the risks associated with using more than one embouchure in the player’s normal range.

At this point, to understand some of my criticisms it might be helpful to take a look at a video of a trumpet player performing one of Smiley’s exercises from The Balanced Embouchure.

He’s obviously a strong player with good range.  First, note the player’s chin and mouth corners.  With the exception during the pedal tones, they look perfectly fine to me.  Not at all like Smiley’s recommendations.  I don’t know if Smiley endorses this video or not.  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.  Playing with multiple embouchures like this definitely correlates with embouchure dysfunction, as I’ve shown here.  It might be argued that using a different embouchure for a trumpet pedal note won’t hurt the rest of the range since that’s not where trumpet players spend their time performing.  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.  Without getting a closer view it’s impossible for me to say how much this player actually is shifting his embouchure (in placement and/or lip position inside the cup), but many players get used to taking a breath at the same point in their range in order to play across an embouchure break that they may not even be aware they have.  Practicing exercises in this way may actually lead to developing an embouchure break, if you’re not careful.

My final comment about this player is to make note of his apparent embouchure type, which I’m guessing to be what I usually call a Very High Placement type.  Some characteristics of this common embouchure type happen fit Smiley’s recommendations for how to play pedal tones on trumpet, including a mouthpiece placement with almost all top lip and a horn angle that is close to straight out.  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’s been brought to my attention that The Balanced Embouchure isn’t about a single proper way to play a brass instrument, a sentiment I approve of.  It is, rather, supposed to be a set of exercises that systematically bring about an efficient embouchure for all players.  Aside from the obvious falsity of an embouchure method that works for everyone, I am always skeptical of a “one size fits all” approach, especially ones that presume to let the body figure itself out if you simply practice their exercises correctly (when it doesn’t work, often it is said the exercises aren’t being played “correctly”).  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. Smiley doesn’t demonstrate that he has an accurate understanding of embouchure form, how different anatomical features make different embouchures function differently, and how to accordingly adjust his exercises to better fit different players.  Since much of the information contained in his book is misleading or even false and many of his exercises will actively work against players of certain embouchure types, I don’t personally recommend this book.

My purpose here isn’t to drive away anyone curious about The Balanced Embouchure or stop anyone from checking it out.  I simply wanted to put out my honest criticisms in the hope that someday Smiley or someone else can address them.  I certainly don’t have all the answers and I feel everyone can contribute to broadening our understanding of how brass embouchures function and the best ways to practice.  Before forming your own opinion about The Balanced Embouchure you should read what Smiley has made available on his web site.  You can also visit some other internet resources that contain information about Smiley’s approach.  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.

If you have a different opinion, and there are many I know who do, then I’d like to hear about it.  What misconceptions do I need to correct?  What online resources have I missed?  Please leave your comment below or contact me privately.

Update:  A Rebuttal to my Balanced Embouchure Review

Angelo

EN CUANTO AL BE, DEBO DECIR QUE PERSONALMENTE ME AYUDO MUCHISIMO, HE TOCADO LA TROMPENTA DURANTE 15 AÑOS Y JAMAS HE LOGRADO TENER UNA EMBOCADURA RESISTENTE Y UN RANGO BASTANTE BUENO, REALMENTE BE PARA MI HA SIDO LA ESPERANZA, CREO QUE ALGUNAS COSAS QUE TU MANIFIESTAS NO SON TOTALMENTE CIERTAS CREO QUE SE PUEDE TENER UN CRITERIO MAS PROPIO CUANDO SE HA PROBADO Y UTILIZADO ESTE RECURSO COMO ES EL BE

Dave

Angelo, mi Espanol es muy mal. Necisito practicar, pero no tengo el tiempo ahora.

First, there is NO NEED TO WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS. It makes it harder to read and it is also considered the equivalent of shouting.

As far as your personal experience goes, it’s impossible to say without watching you play whether your benefit from practicing from the Balanced Embouchure book was because of, or in spite of, the exercises. My main criticisms are due to the misinformation and lack of tangible evidence for why Smiley feels his instructions are beneficial for “all players.” For as many players like you, who feel that it helps, there are at least as many who tried it for a while and didn’t find it useful. When I hear someone say, “I practiced Method X and got better,” I interpret it as “I practiced and got better.” There should be a plausible reason why Method X is better than Method Y.

Smiley’s book does not accurately describe how brass embouchures actually function, which is a good reason to be skeptical of how effective his instructions are. It doesn’t mean that it can’t help some players, but I think that it is fair to criticize it. Who knows, I may be wrong and Smiley may be able to address these concerns in his next book.

Valerie Wells

There’s only one way to understand The Balanced Embouchure method (BE for short) and that’s to do it. Those who form conclusions based solely on reading the book and analysing it through the lens of their own beliefs can’t help but miss the bigger picture.

I’ve been working The Balanced Embouchure method consistently for over 4 years. I’ve also been in correspondance with over 135 horn players who are working the BE method. Although I and many of them are very pleased with the results, I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface of my understanding of BE. I may never understand it fully, but this I do know: BE works.

One may pick the book to pieces, find faults with Smiley’s assertions, logic & reasoning, etc. But until one has given BE an honest trial period, that individual really knows nothing about it.

Valerie Wells

Dave

Thanks for your comments, Valerie. I never mean to claim that it doesn’t “work” to practice Smiley’s exercises, but it “works” to simply practice. There are a number of players who tried it and found it didn’t work as well as other approaches or even made things worse. Personal impressions are great ways to get started with investigation, but until one actually makes an effort to follow every player who gives any method a good go we don’t know if it’s a fluke or confirmation bias. Until then, all we have are logic and reasonings to judge.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but the burden of proof is on the proponents, not me. All I can do is offer my misgivings and hope that someone can address them.

Thanks,

Dave

Alistair Neil

Hi Dave,
I’ll try to address some of your points about The Balanced Embouchure method book.
Regarding health:
“I could have done without Smiley’s chapter “Mind/Body.”

At first glance it would be easy to dismiss this chapter as having nothing to do with trumpet playing but when you get deeper into the process you realise this has to do with the method of symptoms and solutions for health and brass playing. He gives the example of a common cold, don’t treat the symptoms (of which there may be many) but work to raise the immune system to fight the cold. Same with trumpet (or trombone). It not about if you have problem X then you need solution Y but it’s if you have problem X or Y or Z it’s because things are out of balanced. The method which show how to develop or discover balanced solves all problems.

“First of all, I’m skeptical whenever anyone starts to throw around statical data based purely on their personal impressions.”

 How else would one create statics? Smiley has often said his passion is teaching not playing. His statistics come from teaching thousands of trumpet lessons over many, many years. Seems like a good way to get statical data over a large group.

“If it’s so effective I’d expect to see at least a few really fine players around that have those embouchure characteristics, but I don’t.”

Have a look at Smiley’s website (which you linked to in this article) you will find some videos there. Once you start being open to it, you start to see those characteristics everywhere.

“Glancing at the four photos of trumpet players on the cover of Smiley’s book shows one player whose chin looks OK to me (although her corners appear to be pulled back into a smile position, which correlates with range and endurance issues)”

Your definition of “ok” equals flat, anything else is thrown out. There was a thread on trumpet herald long ago asking about these students on the cover, sort of a “where are there now?” story. Smiley stated that the girl on the cover had usable range to high C. Didn’t seem to be an issues.

The bunched vs flat chin issue has been debated a lot on the forums and will probably continue as long as trumpet forums exist. I think the main thing to remember here is Smiley is not dogmatic that flat chin is wrong and everyone must play bunched but rather his view is don’t slam bunched as wrong and be open to the possibility that bunched has many benefits and can work just as well, if not better than flat chin.

Regarding tonguing:
“I feel there may be better ways of getting the desired results that don’t risk the distortion of the embouchure formation when the tongue is regularly held in contact with the lips”

The tongue is not regular held in contact with the lips like a TCE setting may be, but rather only the tip of the tongue strikes the inside of the top lip to articulate. Rather than “distortion of the embouchure formation” it really is the most underrated technique of the method allowing the tongue to monitor and maintain optimum lip position.

Regarding the pedal tones:
“Why this embouchure formation is valuable for practice I don’t understand.’

Then re-read the roll out chapter.
It trains a smaller buzz area, it encourages the corners to come forward into a pucker and trains the bottom lip to stay more rolled out and in alignment with the top lip.

“I don’t feel that it has any benefit that outweighs the risks associated with using more than one embouchure in the player’s normal range.”

But pedal tones especially double pedals are not in the player’s normal range. That’s whole point of the book!

On the pedal tone video.
“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.” 

Yeah, good call. That’s why if you check the book it has the breath marks in strategic places moving higher in the range on each repetition. The CD demo follows these breath marks, this video does not.

“Smiley doesn’t demonstrate that he has an accurate understanding of embouchure form, how different anatomical features make different embouchures function differently, and how to accordingly adjust his exercises to better fit different players.” 

I think the whole point of the book is that lips and embouchures are far more similar then previously thought. He does mention about large lip player may need to focus on roll-in before working on roll-out but that about as specific as it gets for different embouchures.

There is a lot more I could write about this but I will finish with from my experiences this book has been life changing. It has not given me professional level chops (yet) but I now know that my progress on the trumpet is only limited by how much I practise. This stuff works for me and my students and other players I’ve talked to (in real life).

Thanks for opening a discussion about this and I hope my point of view makes sense and helps shed some light of this method.

Alistair

Dave

Alistair, you raise too many points for me to get into just now. For now, I’ll just state that my embouchure research has given me a very different viewpoint from you and Smiley.

Thanks for stopping by and making your comments.

Lyle Sanford

Don’t know how I missed this post! Shows the value of your having new comments over on the right.

I’m one of the people BE really helped, but have seen how a lot of educators have problems with it. I reread the book every so often because as a music therapist I find a lot to like about his overall approach to helping people make music, and because, for me, there’s a lot there that’s not apparent on first reading. I think his approach comports well with the new neuroscience that’s coming out. Will print out your post and keep it with the book. Appreciate your taking the time to make such a specific critique. Next time through will see if I can spot what your speech therapist friend caught and whether or not her “skimming” rather than a full read might be part of the problem.

Dave

Hi, Lyle. Thanks for stopping by and letting us know more about your experiences.

My criticisms of Smiley’s book are based on what I’ve learned about how brass embouchures actually function and what happens when they don’t. I have a new post that will be public shortly where I will touch on some of Alistair’s points above, including some corrections that he’s pointed out.

I really don’t want to get in too deeply on Smiley’s health claims on both his website and in his book because I lack the training and qualifications to offer medical advice. From what I can tell, Smiley is even less qualified than I am. If you want an honest assessment of his chapter I recommend you ask your doctor at your next visit. Get an expert opinion, not mine, not Smiley’s.

Thanks,

Dave

Jerry Freedman

I am interested in your statistics backing up that claim that the bunched chin isn’t as effective as tight corners. I also would take issue with your points about pedals. I have been through the Encyclopedia and I have a copy of the balanced embouchure ( I don’t use either although I did try BE years ago). I have seen players who take pedals very seriously play very well-( Gordon, Caruso students). In fact, naming the high level players who do use pedals would take up way too much space here. Suffice it to say, they work for those that use them.

I have also seen players play very well with bunched chin. I sort of understand (but don’t agree with) Reinhardt’s position on pedals, I never understood the point about flat chin.

Bottom line, BE can work for some players and screw up others, but the same can be said for any embouchure development system. Leon Merian was a player with gorgeous tone through out his range and fronted a big band into his eighties yet he tongued through his lips ( not just up against his lips as BE seems to recommend) but all the way through.

Dave

Hi, Jerry. Thanks for stopping by.

Of course there are many players who swear by practicing pedal tones. Many are very fine players. Personally, I believe there are other things trumpet players can practice that achieve the same things without the risks of playing on two embouchure types. Reinhardt felt that pedal tone practice ruined a trumpet player’s staccato tonguing, although I haven’t been able to confirm this personally.

I have not seen a great deal of good players with a bunched chin. There are some, but generally speaking they are younger players. I would be more convinced if there were great players in their 40s and older with a bunched chin, as sometime between age 30 and 40 mechanical issues like this seem to make or break a player’s longevity.

Bottom line, practicing can work for some players. If you are enjoying practicing because you have fun with the Balanced Embouchure, then it will work for you.

Dave

Steve

Dave,

Started playing in 4th grade. I am now 54 years old, and since college have played on and off. I currently play in a drum corps and church band. I have used many study methods over the years and put in the time. I got my BE book about 5 years ago, but never got to start it until about 6 months ago. I am only a few exercises in and I can tell you that no other study has even come close to improving my overall playing the way BE has done. Strength, power, flexibiility, range have all significantly improved. I won’t spend time debating your points. However, I will say the bunched chin vs flat intiqued me. I did my own research via youtube, old photos etc. From what I saw, overwhelmingly, the worlds best players are not using flat chins. Anyway, for whatever reason, BE has worked for me bigtime. BE has enabled me to enjoy playing more now than in my previous 43 years.

Thx for your time,

Steve

Dave

I’m glad you’re having fun and finding it helpful, Steve.

I did my own research via youtube, old photos etc. From what I saw, overwhelmingly, the worlds best players are not using flat chins.

I think if we were to look carefully enough and use some methods that would avoid our own biases that we would find that most professional players have a flat chin. This is almost universally recommended by brass teachers too.

I’m working with a student about your age right now with a bunched chin. He had a lot of success for a while, but he has developed problems that he can’t get rid of without flatting out his chin. You may want to consider reducing or eliminating your bunched chin before it starts to cause similar problems.

Brian Gibson

Hi Dave,

The BE book has been a game changer for me, I think the three things that have helped the most from BE for me were

1. Unlocking my corners

2. The extremes of high and low have helped a ton (it exaggerates the rolling in and rolling out).

3. Tongue position, by learning to tongue on my top lip (he calls it TOL) it gets me thinking up keeping the tongue close to the point of attack during my normal tonguing which also helps me build compression.

I do BE for about 20 – 30 minutes a day then as I feel more warmed up I bring the placement of the top rim down until I get it to the correct position then I work finding how far back my corners should be and once I get that straight I am golden. I’ve had the book since around 2005 and it has taken me a long time to ‘get it’. I think you should try it, it would make for some interesting stories on your web site!

Dave

Hi, Brian. Thanks for stopping by. Even though you didn’t ask for my advice, let me offer some food for thought.

1. Unlocking my corners

Mouth corners that are not locked in place (i.e., a “smile embouchure” or where the lips are too puckered) cause embouchure issues. If “unlocking” them worked for you, perhaps they were locked in the wrong place. Try locking in where they are now and develop the strength to hold them there. You might find that this works better in the long term.

2. The extremes of high and low have helped a ton (it exaggerates the rolling in and rolling out).

I’m generally not a fan of pedal tone practice for trumpet players, as most players don’t play them in a way that relates to their normal playing range. Smiley’s roll in and roll out exercises both don’t relate to how players will play normally. You can’t really move from those extreme lip positions to your normal playing embouchure without resetting the mouthpiece placement to different positions on the lips. Rather than exaggerate your lip position, keep the mouthpiece placement the same for your whole range. A good goal would be to develop one embouchure for the whole range. Smiley’s advice is designed to give you a high range embouchure, a low range embouchure, and then something in between. At best, you’ve got embouchure breaks to practice getting around. At worst, you’re going to screw up your chops eventually.

Professionals who have demanding playing schedules do not, as a rule, have loose corners, bunched chins, and multiple embouchures for different ranges. Those that do usually don’t last into their 40s without having to do some serious troubleshooting.

3. Tongue position, by learning to tongue on my top lip (he calls it TOL) it gets me thinking up keeping the tongue close to the point of attack during my normal tonguing which also helps me build compression.

The forward tongue position you describe works very well for some players. Not so well for others. Rather than distort your embouchure formation with the tongue contact, just keep your tongue position more forward when you play, but off the lips. Again, I think this works better for almost all players in the long term.

I think you should try it, it would make for some interesting stories on your web site!

I don’t know why people would assume I bought the book but didn’t try it. Maybe some day I’ll get around to posting some of the video footage I took of myself practicing the exercises, but I’ve got other projects that take precedence.

Jesson

Hi Dave,
I’m really thankful for this article, cause I began practicing the BE just a couple of months ago, and I feel really depressed cause my teacher told me: If it doesn’t work, you’re doing it wrong, but I followed the instructions, so I couldn’t understand why this (universal) method didn’t work for me.
With this article I understand better my situation, in fact the problem is the multiple embouchure, now I sound great in low register but as I get to E5, my lips don’t support me.
Now I’m affraid of what may happen with these changes, In three months I lose what I’ve been workin on for almost 15 years playing, studying.
The BE may work for many people but taking it as the absolute and almighty or universal method may be harmful, I’m a testimony.
Thanks a lot for giving this advice, I think that what we need is a balanced way of seeing different kinds of methodology and search what best helps according to our specific nature as human beings.
I’m still afraid and don’t know yet how to resolve this, or am i out playing for ever?

Dave

Hi, Jesson.

Without watching you play I of course can’t give you any specific advice on what you should be doing. At this stage I might have you go back to the embouchure you used before practicing the extreme lip positions and start there. I’d also suggest that you avoid practicing pedal tones, as what you’re doing to get them apparently in no way relates to your natural embouchure type. Maybe try finding what works for your upper register and work on bringing it down low instead.

Although most brass teachers don’t take the same approach to teaching embouchures that I do, many know enough to at least teach you to focus your muscular effort correctly and otherwise stay out of your way. You might do well by simply finding a different teacher to work with for a while.

Good luck!

Dave

Don Sieveke

I studied BE for a period of approx. six months and never came close to a RI “squeak”, much less the easy high tone promised on trumpet. Eventually, I muscled up so much it ended my ability to make a reliable attack. I finally switched to baritone just to get a sound out.

Then I went to Gordon for about 4 years. I found that as Smiley discovered, playing high involves a heck of a lot more than deep breathing. Some persons’ lip structure just isn’t conducive to high pitched vibration without specific manipulation.

Frustrated with the inability to play above the staff in a lyrical manner, I went back to the drawing board, trying to determine how to produce the sound I wanted above the staff. I came up with getting the bottom lip to mate more evenly with the top lip. This syncs with Smiley’s suggestion to blow toward eyebrows and probably with Doc’s jaw position.

So I’m getting better with the new lip formation, but it isn’t easy. It breaks down at e above high c but I’ve only been at it two months.

I’m considering going to Dave for some lessons to see if I can strengthen what is a promising avenue.

Understand, this comes from someone who practices regularly 2 hrs. a day.

AndrewS

“Smiley’s roll in and roll out exercises both don’t relate to how players will play normally”

I wonder if there is anyone in the world who knows how players play normally.
Also anyone who claims he does would be a liar.
What a teacher can do (to fix a broken embouchure) is to prescribe some exercises that make embouchure move towards more or less balanced position. And that’s the point of the book!
Do you go to gym because you normally go around with weights?
Working with weights makes your body move into a healthier state, even though it doesn’t look “normal” when you train.
Trying to critique the book based on what “feels normal” is like telling your doctor that his pills don’t taste normal to you (or the idea of taking pills).
This book is for desperate enough players to try whatever works.
Definitely not for a player who thinks in terms of “normal” or “not normal”.
It’s for those with a strong desire to make things work (when nothing else “normal” did).

Dave

Hi, Andrew. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.

I wonder if there is anyone in the world who knows how players play normally.

I think if you take a little time and look through some of the resources I’ve made available here and what others who study embouchure form and function you might be surprised at not only how unique different players’ embouchures can look, but also how little like Smiley’s roll in and roll out lip positions are found in successful players.

What a teacher can do (to fix a broken embouchure) is to prescribe some exercises that make embouchure move towards more or less balanced position

Smiley’s “balanced” approach is more of a philosophical position, not based on investigation of how brass embouchures function and malfunction. There are no magic exercises that can fix a broken embouchure because different embouchures require different corrective procedures.

Thanks again for your thoughts. Please do take some time and poke around here at my web site and let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Harry H Hilgers

Your BE review reminds me of somebody giving a review on a western-horse-riding-skills-steer-roping book, where the reviewer has only ridden “English”. I agree with other replies that suggest you must first go through the BE method from beginning to the end before you have gained the skills needed to critique Jeff’s book.
Anything more specific that I could add, has already been said before.

Dave

Thanks for your comments, Harry, but you’re using a false analogy. I feel that I can make accurate statements about the flaws in Smiley’s book because there is so much misinformation in them. To put it bluntly, the Balanced Embouchure text demonstrates a lack of understanding in embouchure form and function and many of the exercises that are promoted will largely have the result of teaching players to play better in the wrong way.

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