Brass Embouchure Zoom Hangout – April 4, 2023, 1PM Eastern

There were two days/times that tied for being the most convenient for people to attend, so I arbitrarily chose Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 1 PM eastern (5 PM GMT).

This is a free Zoom “workshop” where I will spend about an hour discussing basic brass embouchure patterns and what I think the pedagogical implications of understanding how brass embouchures function. Afterwards we’ll spend time just hanging out and informally discussing brass pedagogy and playing, including taking the time to determine participants embouchure types and discussing troubleshooting specific problems.

If you want to attend please fill out the below form with your name and email. I will email you a Zoom link, probably on Monday.

Participants are encouraged to have your instruments around for the informal discussion. As I mentioned, I would like to take the time to play “guess the embouchure type” and see if we can offer some helpful advice for players and teachers working with brass embouchure issues.

Brass Embouchure Shop Talk Hang Poll

Back a couple of years ago, when the pandemic lockdown was happening, I put together a couple of Zoom lectures to discuss brass embouchure pedagogy. I’ve been considering doing this again, so here’s an online poll to assess both the level of interest in participating and when a good day/time would be. This would be free, but I will ask you to register at a later date. Choose as many of the following options as you want.

Update – The poll is now closed. The Zoom hangout will happen on Tuesday, April 4 at 1 PM Eastern (5 PM GMT). See this post for info on how to get into the Zoom meetup.

The exact times might fluctuate, so instead of 10 AM maybe I’d start it at 10:30 or 11:00. So if the time frame is close, but maybe within an hour of when you think you could make it, go ahead and indicate the time that is close for you and leave a comment here with your hoped for start time. Last couple of times I did this we went a couple of hours, so I expect that we’ll hang out about the same length of time.

You might need to be logged into WordPress or otherwise be a registered commenter on my blog here to participate, I’ll try to test this later. If you’re having issues submitting your requested days/times, you can always just reach out to me through my contact form instead.

Guess the Embouchure Type – Christopher Martin

I’m going to play “guess the embouchure type” again, this time looking at a couple of videos of Christopher Martin’s trumpet playing. Martin is the principle trumpet with the New York Philharmonic and formerly played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, so you know his playing is impeccable. Take a look at his chops in these two videos and see if you can guess his embouchure type. My guess after the break.

The best look at his embouchure is at the very beginning, when he plays the Pictures at an Exhibition excerpt. Since this trumpet solo involves a lot of large intervals you should be able to get a good enough look at his chops to tell, but here’s another video that has good shots of his embouchure for much longer.

Continue reading “Guess the Embouchure Type – Christopher Martin”

A Five Step Model For Refining Technique

Ask a bunch of brass teachers how to make changes in instrumental technique and you’ll get a lot of contrasting advice, but if there is a consensus of sorts it seems to favor developing a good sound concept and allowing the body to figure itself out. I’ve written many times about why I feel this approach is not ideal, including looking at research that investigates how we learn and develop motor skills. The trouble with utilizing that research to design teaching and practice strategies for musicians is that a large part of that research is tested using skills that are new to the test subjects. What is the best way to make changes or refine a skill that is already developed? I recently came across an article published in 2016 in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology that takes a close look at that question and offers a five part model for making corrections to a skill already learned.

We do need to keep in mind that this article is specifically looking at athletics and not music performance and pedagogy, but I think that the psychology between instrumental technique and athletic skills is similar enough that we can use the same strategies. With that caveat in mind, here’s a look at the five part process for refining technique.

Step 1 – Analysis

Yes, the first step is to analyze the musician’s technique. Right off the bat some brass teachers are going to flinch when they read this. For many, analysis is seen as a bad thing and it leads to “paralysis by analysis.” I find this attitude silly, to be honest. If you or a student is freezing up when playing mechanics are getting a close look for how efficient it’s working then you’re doing the analysis wrong in the first place.

The analysis step is vital for a couple of reasons. First, we need to be able to assess if playing difficulties are due to a mechanical issue in the first place. Furthermore, the analysis process should identify the precise cause of a technique flaw in an objective manner. Too many brass teachers are too quick to assume that the issue is being caused by incorrect breath control or maybe a poor sound concept. Those things can result in inefficient technique, but there are other areas in brass mechanics that also need to be analyzed and addressed.

One point the article mentions that I think is important here is that the athlete’s (or musician’s) technique should be analyzed separately from an attempt at correction. In other words, the musician’s attention should not be on the playing mechanics being addressed while analyzing the technique. It’s best is the coach (teacher) is the one doing the analysis. It’s notoriously difficult to analyze your own issues, so if that’s necessary it’s probably best done by recording your playing and doing your analysis away from the act of playing your instrument.

Also addressed in the article in this stage is getting the athlete (musician) to buy into the process here and recognize that there is a technique flaw that needs to be dealt with. Since there is typically a drop off in performance that happens during the next stage due to the technical refinement being new it’s important that the musician understand why the change is necessary, what specifically to change, and how to make that change.

Step 2 – Awareness

The goal in this step is to deautomate the instinctive inefficient technique. When the habitual way of playing the instrument isn’t working properly it needs to be replaced by the correct technique and that requires the musician (or athlete) to be aware of the technique in the first place.

To deautomate the aspect of technique requiring refinement (hereafter termed the target variable), athletes are required to consciously apply a narrow and internal focus of attention (cf. Wulf, 2013), which enables access to the relevant movement component within the memory trace (Christina & Corcos, 1988). If control over the target variable remained largely subconscious, as is thought ideal for performance (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Swann, Crust, Keegan, Piggott, & Hemmings, 2015), it would be difficult to see how any long-term changes could be initiated. Indeed, Rendell, Farrow, Masters, and Plummer (2011) have demonstrated the limitations of implicit strategies in this particular context. More specifically, athletes counting the number of tones overlaid on music soundtracks (i.e., an effort not to think about the movement) during netball shooting practice to a higher than regulation ring led to an eventual lower ball flight trajectory instead of an intended higher trajectory, despite athletes not being aware of any change taking place. In short, a conscious focus seems to be an essential precursor of effective motoric change.

Implementing the Five-A Model of Technical Refinement: Key Roles of the Sport Psychologist – Howie J. Carson & Dave Collins

The bold emphasis in the above quote is mine in order to highlight the difference between this evidence based strategy compared to the approach many brass teachers take where they intentionally keep their students awareness off the specific mechanical skill. Traditional brass pedagogy skips this step.

One reason why I think many teachers intentionally avoid the process of helping a student become aware of their playing mechanics is that there is almost always a drop in performance when a change in motor skills is made. Where many brass pedagogues assume this decline is an indication that the awareness is making the problem worse, sports psychologists see this as a necessary step in the process. Music students need to be aware of what the purpose of this stage is and be realistic in their expectations.

The authors recommend contrast drills as providing good benefits in this stage of the process. Practicing this way involves spending some time alternating between the old and incorrect way of playing and the new and more efficient way.

Contrast drills challenge athletes for two main reasons. First, a movement component that has been under largely subconscious control must return to consciousness (i.e., executing an already existing technique under a different type of control); second, athletes must consciously manipulate their movement to achieve a new technique. As such, executions are performed with an imbalance of control and require a high degree of concentration and motivation. Using paradoxical training interventions (i.e., asking an athlete to purposefully make an error; see Bar-Eli, 1991) as one way to explain the intended outcome (see also Carson, Collins, & Richards, 2016), contrasts between techniques enable the coach to “reframe” the situation and the athlete to realize what is required to make the change, that is, to fully notice the difference.

Implementing the Five-A Model of Technical Refinement: Key Roles of the Sport Psychologist – Howie J. Carson & Dave Collins

Again, we can compare the emphasis on conscious manipulation of the technique recommended above to the more popular idea in brass pedagogy of discouraging any conscious manipulation of playing mechanics.

Step 3 – Adjustment

In this stage the goal is to make the specific change in technique. The musician (or athlete) becomes familiar with the new technique and how it feels and works when correct. The authors recommend feedback be provided to the student in the form of both recorded trials with the new technique as well as through questions, primes, and verbal instructions that guide the preferred technique.

Contrast training is adjusted in this stage so that the old versions of the playing technique are phased out in favor of the new and correct way of playing.

It has yet to be investigated, but we feel that attempts to unconsciously shape the new behavior, through solely implicit, constraints-based coaching, for example, are less likely to generate effective outcomes such as long-term permanency and robustness under stressful conditions. This may well necessitate a change of behavior by the coach if they are devoutly convinced by this approach, and the psychologist can help greatly by supporting the necessary approach.

Implementing the Five-A Model of Technical Refinement: Key Roles of the Sport Psychologist – Howie J. Carson & Dave Collins

The above quote notes that there are many athletes and coaches who favor an unconscious approach at this stage, but the author’s feel that this approach is less effective in the long term. I agree with their assessments here, but will reiterate their point that further research is needed in this area.

Step 4 – (Re)Automation

Only after the conscious adjustment is made to playing technique do the authors recommend working on making this change automatic. At this stage continuing to break up the playing technique or motor skill into individual steps becomes detrimental in situations of stress (i.e., a performance or audition). Instead, in this stage we finally begin to make the new way of playing internalized.

Music teachers frequently coach their students through mental imagery and analogy. I’ve often pointed out that this is a double edged sword. It’s not helpful in the earlier stages, but at this point it is a necessary step. It’s at this point where the teacher helps the student to perform the technique without conscious effort on playing correctly. This is the stage where the implicit approach takes over.

Step 5 – Assurance

In this final stage the goal is to generate complete confidence in the athlete (or musician) in the unconscious execution of the corrected technique. The student gets regular reassurance from the coach or teacher that new change is working correctly. Assessing the new technique through challenges involving physical fatigue or otherwise “pressure testing” the student is valuable in this stage. This is the point where the musician or athlete just concentrates on the end goal of making good music or putting the ball into the basket.

Final Thoughts

The authors note a specific pet peeve of mine in the typical strategy employed by most brass teachers, separation of the psychology of performing with an accurate understanding of motor skills.

First, there is a distinct need for sport psychology and motor control knowledge to be reconsidered in unison. Unfortunately, in our view, this separation has been driven by too narrow a focus in each case—emotion and cognition in the former and co-ordination dynamics in the latter. Bridging this gap, recent efforts have been made to examine the effects cognition over elements of the movement execution. Carson and Collins (20142015) recently termed this study “psychomechanics” and have explored relative states of automaticity through use of intraindividual movement variability as an indicator of such control (e.g., when executing golf shots with a ball or as intentional practice swings; Carson, Collins, & Richards, 2014b). In short, planned training designs must address not only the development of task-specific cognitive strategies but also how the execution may be embedded with relative permanence and pressure resistance (cf. Carson & Collins, 2016).

Implementing the Five-A Model of Technical Refinement: Key Roles of the Sport Psychologist – Howie J. Carson & Dave Collins

Tip of the hat to Noa Kageyama of the Bulletproof Musician podcast and blog for posting about this article.

The Science of Swing

NPR posted a report on their web site yesterday called “What makes that song swing? At last, physicists unravel a jazz mystery.” It’s an interesting look at swing groove and how physicists who happen to be amateur musicians approached answering the question, what is swing?

Still, a precise definition of swing has long eluded musicians and scholars alike. As the Big Band era jazz trumpeter Cootie Williams once reportedly joked about swing, “Describe it? I’d rather tackle Einstein’s theory.”

Fittingly, physicists now think they’ve got an answer to the secret of swing — and it all has to do with subtle nuances in the timing of soloists.

What makes that song swing?

When I read that my first thought was, duh! Of course it’s soloist timing, and their relationship to the rhythm section groove. What could science actually say about this? It turns out the devised a pretty subtle experiment that helps answer the exact question of what a soloist does to swing hard.

But since the 1980s, some scientists and music scholars have claimed that the swing feel is actually created by tiny timing deviations between different musicians playing different types of instruments. To test this theory, Geisel and his colleagues took jazz recordings and used a computer to manipulate the timing of the soloist with respect to the rhythm section.

What makes that song swing?

They then played different versions of the recording with different timings to jazz musicians and asked them to rate the performances. By a large margin, the musicians preferred one set of timing over another, even though they couldn’t pinpoint what it was that was different. They then analyzed classic recordings by important and influential jazz musicians and discovered that they were manipulating their time in the same way.

What was that difference? Read the article or give the report a listen. Did you agree with the majority opinion on which manipulated recording sounded better? Can you notice the difference?

A-I Can Blog, But Can It JAM? Exploring AI Blogging Music

So I’ve been getting a lot of my blog posts linked from lately, but there’s definitely something off about those blog posts. For one thing, they are linking to my brass embouchure posts, but they are about woodwind playing. Then there’s the writing.

A clarinet, which was invented in the 16th century, can be found today. This wind instrument has a simple sound that is sonorous and bright. Because of its versatility, the clarinet can be used in a wide range of styles, including classical and jazz. Despite his outstanding clarinet playing, Paquito looks and sounds a little like an alto saxophonist. An opera singer’s soprano saxophone sound is much brighter and more sax like than one of his.

Huh? I didn’t know that an opera singer’s soprano sax sound is brighter that Paquito’s. I learned in that article that it’s nice to learn how to “finger reeds.” I also learned that the difference between clarinet and soprano sax are “not so much in the speed of the vehicle as they are in the distance.”

Emily Palmer, over at that web site, is clearly using AI to write her blog posts. If you want a laugh or just to be confused, go over to her blog and give some posts a read. What I find really interesting is that according to this page, she is/was a creative writing minor. She does play violin pretty well, though.

I figure that I’m missing out here. These days I usually post something once or twice a month. I’m generally too busy with other projects to do much more, but if I used AI to write my blog posts too, I could crank out the posts just like Emily does (I think there’s about 10 brand new ones just posted today!). So here is an AI generated post for your enjoyment and inspiration.

AI blogging music has taken the world by storm in the last few years. As a blogger, I am always looking for new ways to innovate and create unique content. AI blogging music has been a great way to do just that. In this blog, I’ll explore what AI blogging music is, its benefits, applications, services, and challenges. I’ll also share some tips for creating AI blogging music, examples of AI blogging music, and the future of AI blogging music.

What is AI blogging music?

AI blogging music is a type of music created by Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI blogging music uses algorithms to generate musical compositions that are similar to traditional music. The algorithms are designed to create music that is both unique and familiar. AI blogging music can be used to create both instrumental and vocal music.

The process of creating AI blogging music begins with a set of data that is used to generate musical patterns. The data can be anything from audio samples to patterns of notes and rhythms. The AI then uses this data to create a composition. The composition is then modified and refined to create a finished product.

AI blogging music has become increasingly popular over the last few years due to its ability to generate unique and creative music quickly and easily. It has been used by a wide variety of artists and professionals to create music for movies, video games, and other media.

Benefits of AI blogging music

AI blogging music has a number of benefits for bloggers and other professionals. One of the main benefits is that it can be used to create unique and creative music quickly and easily. This can be especially useful for bloggers who need to create content on a tight deadline.

AI blogging music can also be used to create music that is similar to traditional music, but still unique and creative. This can help to create content that stands out from the crowd. AI blogging music can also be used to create music that has a specific purpose in mind, such as creating a certain mood or atmosphere.

Finally, AI blogging music can be used to create music without requiring the user to have any musical training or experience. This can make it easier for bloggers and other professionals to create music without having to learn music theory or spend time practicing.

AI blogging music applications

AI blogging music can be used in a variety of contexts. It can be used to create music for videos, podcasts, and other media. It can also be used to create soundtracks for games and apps. AI blogging music can also be used to create music for live performances or events.

AI blogging music can also be used to create background music for podcasts and other audio content. This can help to create a more immersive listening experience for the listener. AI blogging music can also be used to create music for videos, such as intros and outros.

AI blogging music services

There are a number of services that offer AI blogging music. These services can provide users with access to AI blogging music libraries and tools to help them create their own compositions. Some of these services also offer custom services, such as creating specific pieces of music for a particular project.

Some of the most popular AI blogging music services include Splice, Amper Music, and Jukedeck. These services offer a variety of features and tools to help users create their own AI blogging music.

Challenges of AI blogging music

Though AI blogging music has a number of benefits, it also has some drawbacks. One of the main challenges of AI blogging music is that it can be difficult to create music that is truly unique. AI blogging music can often be repetitive and predictable, as the algorithms are designed to generate music that is similar to traditional music.

Another challenge of AI blogging music is that it can be difficult to create music that is appropriate for a particular project. AI blogging music can often be too generic or too specific for a particular project. This can make it difficult for users to find the right piece of music for a project.

Finally, AI blogging music can be expensive. Many AI blogging music services charge a subscription fee or a per-use fee. This can make AI blogging music cost prohibitive for some users.

Tips for creating AI blogging music

If you are looking to create your own AI blogging music, there are a few tips that can help. First, it is important to have a clear idea of what type of music you want to create. This will help to ensure that the AI blogging music is appropriate for the project.

It is also important to experiment with different algorithms and data sets. Different algorithms and data sets can produce different types of music. This can help you to find the right type of music for your project.

Finally, it is important to listen to the music you create and make adjustments as needed. AI blogging music can often require some tweaking to make it sound just right. Taking the time to listen to the music and make adjustments can help to ensure that the music is appropriate for the project.

Examples of AI blogging music

AI blogging music has been used in a wide variety of contexts. One of the most popular examples is the song “Glorious” by the EDM artist Marshmello. The song was created using AI blogging music and has been praised for its unique sound.

Another example is the song “Rise” by the DJ duo The Chainsmokers. This song was also created using AI blogging music and has been praised for its innovative sound.

Finally, the song “Tron Legacy” by Daft Punk was also created using AI blogging music. The song was praised for its unique sound and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Future of AI blogging music

AI blogging music is becoming increasingly popular and is only going to continue to grow in the future. As AI technology continues to improve, so too will the quality of AI blogging music. This will make it easier for bloggers and other professionals to create unique and creative music quickly and easily.

The future of AI blogging music also includes the potential for AI blogging music to be used for more than just music. AI blogging music could be used to create visuals, such as animations and videos. This could open up a whole new world of possibilities for bloggers and other professionals.


AI blogging music has become increasingly popular over the last few years and is only going to continue to grow in the future. AI blogging music can be used to create unique and creative music quickly and easily, and can be used in a variety of contexts. There are a number of services that offer AI blogging music, though it can be expensive. If you are looking to create your own AI blogging music, there are a few tips that can help. Examples of AI blogging music include the songs “Glorious” by Marshmello, “Rise” by The Chainsmokers, and “Tron Legacy” by Daft Punk.

Stop using AI to write blog posts and start creating your own unique and creative AI blogging music today!

So there you go. If you’re interested in starting a blog and using AI to write your posts, I used Writesonic to generate the above post.

Physics and Music

Like many musicians, I have an interest in the physics of sound, but not a formal background in the science. I recently came across this great YouTube video of Dr. Robert Astalos and Dr. Tracy Doyle giving a talk on physics and music at Adams State University (I taught there back in the early 2000s, although at the time it was Adams State College).

Dr. Robert Astalos, associate professor of physics, and Dr. Tracy Doyle, professor of music, provide a uniquely collaborative view into how music works via “mediums”, and why tones sound different on various instruments, utilizing the underlying principles of physics.

They go over a great discussion and demonstration of the harmonic series and how instruments, such as the euphonium, flute, and guitar, play over the harmonic series. There’s a discussion of tuning systems too. There’s a piano performance by Dr. Bill Lipke, who has been teaching at ASU since I was teaching there (it was sure cool to see a familiar face in this video).

While I didn’t learn anything that was completely new to me, the nuances discussed and the demonstrations were fascinating to me. I was particularly interested in the wave demonstrator that Astalos used to show how the standing wave gets subdivided to play over the harmonic series.

The Stevens-Costello Embouchure Technique – A Review

I was lurking on a brass forum and came across some discussion of the Stevens-Costello book, Embouchure Self-Analysis: The Stevens-Costello Embouchure Technique, by trumpet teacher Roy Stevens. It had been probably 15 years since I read this book, so I got a hold of a copy, reread it, and have started practicing out of this book. It’s an interesting book, filled with a lot of advice that I find very good, but also some inaccurate statements about brass embouchures and a lot of advice that is probably only relevant to a smaller portion of brass players.

Embouchure Self-Analysis was first self-published in 1971 and until Stevens’s death in 1988 remained in print. Afterwards, this text was harder to find until Bill Moriarity spearheaded an effort to get it reprinted in 2006. The copy I have lists a copyright for 2012 by David Hay. I ordered it here.

There are two main sections in this book. The first part is text and includes Stevens’s descriptions and suggestions for a well-functioning embouchure. I have mixed feelings about all this text, for a variety of reasons. My first complaint is that Stevens does what so many other brass teachers do, he assumes that how he plays must be “correct” for everyone. Stevens advised all players to play with an upstream setting and even instructs certain characteristics that won’t work for a certain minority of upstream players too. Brass musicians who aren’t suited for an upstream embouchure are who take Stevens’s instructions too far will struggle, but if you’re in the minority of players who have a Low Placement embouchure type and fit squarely into the variation of this type that Reinhardt classified as a Type IV embouchure the text describes very closely the mechanics of how this embouchure type tends to function at its best.

My own embouchure type is upstream, but I play with my jaw somewhat receded and have a lower horn angle. Reinhardt tabled this as a Type IVA. I just consider it to be a “Low Placement” embouchure type, since the same basic principals of playing correctly seem to apply to this variation. This is important, because a lot of the text discourages a receded jaw while playing, which is the best position for my anatomy. I can protrude my jaw into the position that Stevens recommends and I can make sounds that way, but it doesn’t work very well.

This is an important point and is my main criticism of this book. Roy Stevens essentially is advocating everyone play with the same embouchure type that worked for him. This flaw is very common in almost any brass resource that describes embouchure technique, so it’s not unique to Stevens. It’s ironic what Stevens’s student wrote in the appendix.

At the age of eighteen, I studied with a teacher who was credited with 50 years experience. After spending five years with this man I discovered the only theory his teachings were based upon was the altogether too common one of “I play the horn this way and so should you.”

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 103

The key to working out of any method book is to understand that it’s not exactly what you practice, but how you practice that’s important. Anyone working out of this book will need to take at least some of Stevens’s descriptions of functioning embouchures with a grain of salt.

As I mentioned above, some of it is accurate for only one less common embouchure type.

The concept of aiming the air up for all notes or tones must be upheld. It is this formation of the embouchure musculature that will prevent slack or collapse of the surface tension in both lips.

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 13

(This advice is great if you happen to have the anatomy that makes an upstream embouchure work best for you.)

Some of it is good general advice that will apply to most players.

Mouthpiece distribution of weight should be 40-45% top, 60-55% bottom.

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 8

(The lower lip is usually a bit “meatier” than the upper lip and can take more mouthpiece pressure than the top lip. I feel it’s good advice for all players to keep a little more mouthpiece weight on the lower lip.)

And some of it I find questionable for almost all players.

I am vehemently opposed to the “common ground argument” of the (EEE) action of the tongue for the upper register combined with the relative jaw action. . .

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 15-16

(It’s been pretty well established today that brass musicians alter the position of their tongue, generally raising it to ascend. For some players it can be more than others and for some players it can feel like they are keeping their tongue in position, but the reality is that tongue position while slurring and sustaining should move towards a higher position to ascend, just not too high.)

Sprinkled throughout the text are some unusual exercises or demonstrations. The most famous example is his “palm exercise.”

. . . [L]ay the instrument flat upon the palm of the left hand with the fingers extended in such way that with any excessive pressure, it will slide off.

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 40

If you’re not already familiar with this exercise, here is a former student of Roy Stevens, Larry Meregillano, demonstrating and describing the exercise.

I’ve written about this idea before (Brass Myths – Hanging the Trumpet From the Ceiling, No Pressure Brass Embouchure – Fact or Urban Legend?, Trumpet on a String Legend Part 2 – Rafael Méndez). There may very well be something useful we can learn from trying this exercise out, but Stevens instructs us to, “Practice in this fashion at least a half hour a day, total playing time.” I can’t speak for you, but I’ve got too many other things to work on to spend 30 minutes with the instrument in my palm, even spread out over the day. It’s not the way I’m going to perform and the left hand grip is an important part of a trumpet or trombone musician’s embouchure mechanics. Frankly, I don’t find the palm exercise useful enough to practice it any more or recommend it to others. There are other, better ways to get at what you need.

The bulk of the book, however, are exercises that will be familiar to most brass musicians. The exercises tend to be organized around chord arpeggios playing along the overtone series. Stevens suggests playing each exercise set slurred and tongued. The ranges expand from the lower end of the trumpet range all the way up to the extreme upper register. There are dynamics indicated that get you playing soft and loud. There are exercises similar to ones you might find in Arbans that work on tonguing and fingering patterns. So you’re going to find that this book addresses a pretty complete list of brass playing technique.

A lot of space is saved in the book by not writing out complete exercises, but by writing out a single variation, say a rhythmic pattern, and asking you to play the previous exercise fully with that variation. I think this is good both for making the book a little more manageable to read, but also because I think it’s good to learn to play things without reading music.

There are a handful of exercises that can be played with 2 or 3 players, which would be useful for teachers who are warming students up or helping them with scales in different keys while in lessons.

I haven’t spent time working out of the back half of the book, but I have been using the exercises in the early part as part of my morning practice routine for a couple of months now. Since I’m aware enough how my chops work there are several instructions on how to practice them that I’ve ignored, but overall I feel that the time spent has been helpful. One of the flaws in the book, I feel, is that there’s little attention given to what order to practice the materials in and there’s simply too much in there to use all in one day, so you’ll need to skip around. I took the approach to play through everything up to a point and then picked and chose some things to focus on daily. I also have been doing fewer sets of most of the exercises. For example, rather than go up an exercise by half steps I go up by whole steps and get through the exercise faster. You’ll need to try the material out for yourself and see how you respond to them.

So overall my personal experience working out of Embouchure Self-Analysis has been positive, but your milage may vary. If you are definitely a “Low Placement” embouchure type and have the more common characteristic of aligning the teeth while playing then you’ll probably do pretty well following most of Stevens’s advice. If you’re not, you’ll need to work out which parts you need to ignore, such as a placement with more lower lip inside the mouthpiece or a horn angle close to straight out. The exercises themselves are pretty good and most brass players will find working on them to be a pretty good embouchure workout. Just practice them carefully and don’t overdo it.

Have you read this book and tried out the exercises for yourself? Did you study with Roy Stevens and have something to add or a correction to make? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section. I’d love to hear the opinion of others about it.