As a teacher I feel
that I should make students aware of how their body works and what their
muscles are doing when playing a brass instrument. In this way they can
make judgements themselves on the way that they and others play.
I am careful though
that I do not give my pupils information that will add to any problem
or, in fact cause one. I did not have any of this knowledge for many
years of my own playing. Perhaps it would have helped me to think about
myself and halt any embouchure defects. With so many experts on the
subject of musculature in brass playing it is hardly surprising that
many brass players find themselves confused or bewildered.
Many players that I
have interviewed tell of stories of good players going to music
colleges, having to change their embouchures and ways of breathing. This
often results in players getting “messed up” either physically or
of “professional” players and teachers towards their perceived
notions that the method that they learned is a problem which I have
encountered. For example I asked in a questionnaire about the use of the
glottis to squeeze the air through the air passage faster. This was
advocated by Scott Englebright who plays with the Harry Connick Junior
band. Douglas Yeo of the Boston Symphony Orchestra replied that “no
professional player would ever do that”. I later explained to him that
many professionals DID do just that and it worked for them.
Air is the fuel of
our playing, our body is the car, and the roads are the music. If we
have a car which doesn’t work very well then we won’t get very far
or, if we are short of petrol then we also won’t get very far.
I feel that it is a
teachers role to give their pupils all of the information available with
adjustments, according to their needs. Some of my colleagues think that
a lot of the material which is written on brass playing is “rubbish
that sells books”. Whilst others embrace the theories and take from
them the parts which could help them or their pupils. I am from the
In my opinion, we
are all different and it is not possible that every method is equally
useful for every person. Each of us has different physiological,
psychological and perceptual habits. This is why some methods
only work for some people.