Embouchure Experiments Lead to Controversy

It’s a busy time for me, with the semester just starting to wrap up, and I’ve much grading to do.  There has been an interesting discussion going around in the horn blogosphere lately, which I’d like to comment briefly on before I get back to work.

It seems to have started with Bruce Hembd’s series of articles on Horn Matters, which he calls “‘Radical’ Embouchure Experiments” (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4).  In this series Bruce explores some new embouchure ideas (and revisiting some older ones) that he’s been playing around with lately.  They make for an interesting read and while I would argue that the exact procedures may not be the best for every player, it’s clear from the series that he’s just offering this for food for thought and not making recommendations for anyone else.

This series of posts led Julia Rose, the hornist behind Julia’s Horn Page blog, to begin thinking about how her attitude to analysis has changed over time with her post, “No more analyzing.”  I think the key thing to keep in mind to understand the context of her post is when she writes, “I understand that this way may not be for everyone, and that some folks may feel the need to analyze.  But that method is just not for me anymore” (my emphasis).

Many other people responded to the “Radical Embouchure Experiments” series in the comments.  Bruce responded to one in the comments area and then, I’m glad to see, expanded on that comment with a more detailed post.  “Random thoughts on ‘natural’ technique, embouchure study and sports analogies” addresses to some of the criticism that he’s gotten for engaging in that series of posts.  He raises some very good points about the approach that playing a brass instrument is not natural and that, in the proper context, analysis is not only useful, but essential.  If you read no other link on this post, I recommend this one.

For some old posts that show my take on this topic you can read my posts “An Examination of “Paralysis By Analysis,” “You See What You Look For,” “The False Dichotomy – Imitation vs. Process,” “Learning Styles,” and “A Culture of Ignorance?

Update:  James Boldin has also posted on this same series (see comments below).  His post ponders the question, “Is Playing the Horn Natural?

Update #2:  I just noticed that Lyle Sandford posted on his Music Therapy blog, and discusses “Natural.”

Update #3:  Bruce adds a little more on Horn Matters here.

Do you know of any other posts out there dealing with the same topics?  If so, please post the links in the comments section here.  Or, please feel free to offer your own ideas.

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