Lighting the way through embouchure darkness!
How do you know if a brass development method "works?"

Most people would say, "you get better." But the problem is, such an idea fails to take into account that some players simply get better by practicing almost anything. How is it possible to be sure that a
particular method is the difference maker?

Here is a big clue: Look at players who struggle the most. In my experience, players with chronic embouchure inefficiencies do not get better by general practice. If you can find clear evidence which supports the claim that a wide variety of players with chronic difficulties - who struggled for years with different methods - have gone down a specific path and successfully pulled themselves out of the mud, then you have the most compelling proof available that a particular method is responsible for the difference.

Another clue is to look at players who have stopped improving. Although reluctant to admit it, a lot of professionals are in this category, stuck on a plateau for years, unable to improve. If a single method causes improvement to start again, then it must be considered as reasonable proof of the efficacy of the method.

The testimonials on this page are the evidence. Many thanks to everyone who posted these words!

For more testimonials, go to archives. For stories connected to teaching BE, go here)
2007 BE Forum post:

"In high school, I played a variety of brass instruments. Since French horn was my "concert season" instrument I decided to study it seriously in college. In my college admissions audition, I was told, "Nice tone, but you look like you've been playing trumpet." So they set to work on transforming my embouchure into a classic French horn embouchure. Guess what? It was a disaster, I got frustrated & dropped out of music after my sophomore year thinking I'd never be a decent horn player. But I never stopped thinking of myself as a horn player.

After retiring from nursing I indulged myself & purchased a horn. I practiced hard & soon regained my previous college playing level which, unfortunately, included the range & endurance-limiting "classic" French horn embouchure (whatever that is!).

Out of sheer frustration I decided to search the internet for solutions. I found a few websites that parroted the same old stuff I'd heard decades ago. Then I found Jeff's website. His message resonated with me. And, most importantly he had the guts to promise that BE would work for every player, even a French horn player. I figured, "what have I got to lose?," so I ordered the book.

To make a short story even shorter, I experienced almost instant success with BE. Everything quickly fell into place. My private instructor was so pleased with my progress, she ordered the book herself & uses parts of it for herself & with her other horn students. I've only been a come back player for about 20 months, so of course, I still have many technical obstacles to overcome, but there's ONE obstacle I no longer wrestle with -- a range/endurance limiting inefficient embouchure. I can play the full 4 octaves w/ pretty decent tone expected of a French horn player. Thanks to Jeff Smiley, range & endurance are no longer holding me back. Whoo hoo!"

Valerie Wells
Washington State

NOTE: In adding "other brass" to the testimonial page, it was only fair to list Valerie first. She has done more to promote BE in the French horn world than anyone. Thank you, Valerie!

2010 email:


I've been meaning to report back to you about my experience with BE, as you seem to like to hear the anecdotal evidence of what happens when BE kicks in.

I got started with BE just under a year ago, a former trombone player who took up the French horn about five years ago. I made progress, especially after the first two years and an embouchure change. But I knew there was something missing. Then I came across your website, got in contact with Valerie, and it's been a whirlwind romance with the horn ever since. It's showing signs of being a lasting love affair.

The RI exercises, while feeling a little odd, were easy enough to implement, and I was able to play incredibly high notes as predicted. What surprised me was that within a matter of weeks the Roll In became a permanent feature of my embouchure, especially the upper lip, which is extremely rolled in. It actually feels strange, but I'm not one to argue with success. From that time on I've been able to have a reliable high C without strain, effort or pressure. I can slur up to it, or tongue it as needed. It's entirely automatic.

On the low end, the Roll Out was not an unfamiliar concept. I had discovered that on my own, before BE, but tended to dismiss it as "cheating," which I find an amusing concept now. If it works how can it be cheating? I spend most of my BE exercise time on the low end, as it's still the weak area. Unlike trumpet, where the pedals are not usable notes, on horn there are many passages written for the pedals.

Using RO, I can play nearly the entire pedal range and can from time to time get down to the fundamental F. In daily practice, I don't worry about the extreme low end, but push to play the notes anyway. If I get them, I get them. If not I move on.

What is occurring is the RI low end is getting lower, and the RO high end is getting higher. The true integration is just beyond the horizon, but it's getting closer.

The payoff has been that I felt like I was finally ready to rejoin the performing world and joined a small orchestra that plays mostly movie and pops music. Due to an odd set of circumstances this fall, I moved from my usual 2nd horn spot to principal as we started preparing our Christmas concert which featured John Williams' score of Home Alone, with those soaring horn parts, and Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, with all the odd interval jumps, and both high and low passages. I'm not claiming that I played everything perfectly. There were a few chipped notes, but mostly everything worked. My point is that with all that I had to think about, the thing I didn't think about was chops.

In my first email I expressed my concern that I might have some age problems to deal with, but you assured me that "age is not your issue! :-)" You were absolutely correct.

I still have a long way to go, but the difference between a year ago and now, is that I have a plan and a method that is working for me. Valerie has been a joy and inspiration, and I give you my most heartfelt thanks for the work you are doing. It's made all the difference between failure and success in my playing."

Doug Wagner

2010 email:

"While browsing the internet, looking to see what was happening over in the English-speaking part of the French horn world, I stumbled into a post from Valerie about BE. I wasn't looking for any particular help at the time. Even high notes didn't scare me, as I could go pretty high by using more pressure. But Valerie seemed so enthusiastic about BE that I went to have a look at your website and read the excerpts there about mechanics. They made sense to me, so I ordered the book. I read it from cover to cover and started the exercises right away.

Now one and a half years later, I am on a stable path of improvement. The gap between my upper and lower ranges is filling itself progressively. Yesterday I was able to do lip slurs on 4 octaves. I can feel a real combination of RI and RO on each note. Really, for me, playing high involves a lot of RO, I almost never work on RI exercises.

My endurance is incredible, and my range is approaching 5 octaves. I can now play up to high C with real ease and go up to high E with a strong volume. high Fs (= trumpet high C) and Gs are here but still a little weak. All this with a small mouthpiece without any concession on accuracy or tone quality. I am now amazed by the little pressure I need to play

I start to feel comfortable with TOL. Before, it felt clumsy.

Thanks a lot for your wonderful discoveries. They do apply to French horn too, without any doubt."

Guillaume Millot

2009 email:

"I received the BE book, with horn amendments, about two weeks ago and have been in close contact with Valerie Wells since with lots of "how too" questions (Valerie has been great by the way). In all my years I have never seen a (for lack of a better word) "miracle" product that actually delivers what it says like BE has.

RI is no problem and RO is getting better but the amazing thing is the results on my regular playing. I can easily play up to a high C and with surprisingly little effort can play scales and arpeggios up to F, G, A and Bb (only once) above that. I am not contorting my face or straining. Tone and low register have gotten stronger and more solid too. I am SHOCKED that your system has not taken the brass teaching/playing world by storm.

All my formal training was - whether they actually said it or not - with the Farkas method. Heck my Undergrad was at IU. I have never seen a horn player without something of a flat chin and tight corners. Trumpet players are another story. I have seen many with air pockets and a bunched chin and always wondered how they could play with that "screwed up" set up. I think that is funny now.

Thanks again. I am so glad I stumbled across your system. The internet is a wonderful thing."

Christian Hansen
Band Director and born again Horn Player

Email to Valerie

"Starting BE has been such a Renaissance for me and there have been many moments when I have been thrilled with my playing again. To sit here in my basement office and be astounded again at my sound and playing is very touching to me. Several days ago I was shocked by the additional resonance I can get out of the horn. I probably never got this many overtones out of the horn before. When I conquer the A-Fib and respiratory deal, I will be the strongest I have ever been on the cornu.

There are two salient things about the BE that I have not emphasized from my personal experience as a developmental BE advocate and I consider it critical to my commentary about the BE System:

1. The BE system will stabilize one's playing to the extent that chops feel ready to go everyday at the point of warmup. Even with a minimal warmup most everything jumps into place pretty fast.............maybe too fast. The danger is to extend the warmup long enough to get the muscles operating. For me this is the most difficult time of my horn playing. I now can pick up the horn and just zip around with great abandon. But then it comes back to haunt me because I waste my embouchure very quickly. If I take the time to go slow, then I have excellent application all over the range and technique.........even with only 60 or 70% of the air that most players have. Quite an endorsement for the BE system and the highest I can give. I used to have dead chops each day and then had to bring all this to life each time I played. The good days far out number the bad days. Actually if I take time to warmup and don't fry my chops there are no bad days.

2. If one concentrates on the system, the player will experience an openness to their playing that they may have never experienced before. When you consider that I am a wreck from a health standpoint, have way less air supply, a cardio deal nipping at my heels, I am truly blessed to have the BE to anchor my playing again. So it is a platform that will profoundly impact all aspects of playing. I am continually shocked at how well this BE deal works. There have been (and continue to be) some meltdown periods but this was due to NOT WARMING UP, my continual nemesis. Even when I over practice or do a program that burns me to the ground chop wise, I pick up the horn the next day and I feel like I am already warmed up and ready to go. But the warm up, however concise, is critical to the BE working effectively. You and Jeff are onto one of the greatest breakthroughs in brass instrument pedagogy. It is such a joy to know about this and I am so sad that I put off getting into the program.

I hope this is something that will help the novitiates of the program. And the heck of it is that I am only scratching the surface on the paradigm shift with BE. When I get it all up and running I will have the elements of technique and endurance that went away over the years due to health and bad habits. To be able to play the Schumann Adagio and Allegro at the end of a chop killer little program is something I have never been able to do before, and I mean NEVER....
N E V E R.

Bless you for staying on me Valerie. You knew but I did not."

Dave Stoller
Former Principal Horn in Colorado Springs Symphony

2009 Email

"Jeff, your stroke of genius with BE is a must for anyone serious about exploring and developing their musicianship as a brass player. At age 57 and after 14 months of doing the RI/RO exercises and incorporating the Zip idea into the flexies that I do daily, my understanding and experience of playing a brass instrument has been thoroughly revolutionized and transformed. It is now much easier and far less taxing. I've added an octave onto my range which now extends over five octaves. My embouchure functionality has sky rocketed. BE allows me to now experience an ease and reliability when playing that has taken a lot of stress OUT of my professional life and made it far more rewarding and enjoyable. I'm deeply grateful to you for sharing BE."

Andrew Joy
Principal Horn of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Germany (since September 1978)

2009 Email

"I believe your teaching of the lip rolling concept is outstanding.

As a ‘flat chin’ player, I’m able to use the rolling idea to solidify my range and consistency. I don't have higher range. I had - and
still have - what I need for my work, but it sounds better, I'm more consistent with it, and I am FAR better at teaching others how to minimize their struggle than I ever was before.

I modified your basic 3 and advanced 1-10 exercises for horn ranges, and I do 3-5 of them daily (usually basic 2 or 3, followed by advanced 1, 2, 3 and 5). I'll do more when I feel a concept has slipped – less on time constraint days or when I need to get right to repertoire. They also make great pre-concert warm ups – reminding me of the crucial ‘how’ before I then largely forget all the ‘hows’ and focus on ‘why’. As I’m sure you know – why works a lot better when how is a settled issue…

You may be encouraged to know that I’ve shared the BE principles with 2 budding professional hornists on the audition trail. Both have become quite excited about how quickly their playing has both improved, and gained in consistency.

Congratulations on your work. I believe that within ten years (less if there is any justice and fairness out there…), everyone will be teaching your concept of lip rolling – if not the entire spectrum of your method."

Sandra Clark
co-principal Horn, Toledo Symphony

Most current:

The BE method has helped me revive my chops from the onset of focal dystonia in 2006. Due to a rigorous teaching schedule, graduate school at the time, and Las Vegas show-playing schedule, my chops were in pain and I was losing my ability to play. (To give an example how bad my chops were, I could not play or sustain a high C without pain.)

After a desperate search of remedies, including many trumpet lessons with high profile teachers around the United States (with little results), I gravitated to BE. I began noticing improvement in a short time. In my opinion, Jeff Smiley has a concise, easy to follow approach to teaching (one might even say holistic). Moreover, the exercises are clearly explained and he offers online help via Skype and email with questions and concerns.

For me, one exercise in particular, Roll Out #4, has triggered the most benefit. It has helped me regain my chops and heal/change my embouchure (still evolving) into a more efficient setting.

It has been 5 years with BE and my chops are fully recovered and stronger than ever. I can actually play notes in the upper register that I've never even been able to hit before. I require less warm-up time and use certain exercises for endurance and range builders and others as a daily maintenance routine.

One other thought – I feel it important to mention that there is no "quick fix" or overnight solution. One must ask why they have decided to approach the BE method and proceed from there. For me, I had a "broken embouchure" (BE book page 144) and based on my experience, the exercises revived my chops in a way that I would have never thought possible.

Although I have never personally met Jeff, he has always taken the time to answer my questions an offer encouragement and positive reinforcement! The book is loaded with insightful logical information based on real world experience. I would recommend it for all brass players. Thank you Jeff for writing this book!


David Perrico
Las Vegas, NV

2011 email:

Hi Jeff,

I have been meaning to write to you for about 3.5 years. I have been playing trumpet for 21 years and teaching for 15 years and to say that your book changed not only my trumpet playing but my life would be no understatement. I am the most unnatural trumpet player and this was exceedingly compounded by a teacher whom I had for 8 years who taught me a technique he believed in and made me believe in also that was (in hindsight) never ever going to work. I am a compulsive practicer and have probably only missed 10 days of practice in the last 9 years. And my technique was so flawed that I would end up cutting my lip with excessive mouthpiece pressure EVERY DAY for years.

Five years ago, two Melbourne-based trumpet players put me onto your book (Nik Wilkins on your teacher page was one of them). I was intrigued even though excursions to several teachers and reading several books had filled me with a defeatist attitude that I would never solve my playing problems.

Once I received the book I read almost the whole book in one night. The next morning I woke up, grabbed my horn, rolled in blew a hiss or squeak, put the horn on my face and played a G above high C!! I was rapt and amazed!!

I teach 30-35 trumpet students a week and conduct 7 school bands (including 4 stage bands) .. after a few months of personal success with your method I started trying certain aspects like roll in and tongue on lips with my students and the results were unbelievable!! I now teach your method solely and if you want to put my details on your teachers page I would be honoured.

Anyway the main reason for this email was simply to say an enormous thank you Jeff. I used to wake up every morning with nerves wondering if my playing (which I put so much stock in) would work that day. To say I had a constant underlying fear would be absolutely true and your book has actually eliminated that completely .. thanks bud.

Keep up the great work. Many, many thanks,

Daimon Brunton
Melbourne, Australia

2010 email:

"Hey Jeff!

Just wanted to update you on my progress as I've been doing BE for about a year now. After moving up my mouthpiece position to get it out of the red, I saw an immediate improvement in my endurance. The improvements continued as I continued doing the exercises over the past year. I play with alot less pressure now (although I wouldn't say "no pressure") and now I'm as comfortable playing double high Cs and above at the end of a gig as I am at the beginning. It's almost like magic how BE has cured my issues with endurance and consistency. In the past I would alternate good and bad days and often have to rest several days after beating up my chops and now I can play long gigs and still play great the following day!

I only wish I had discovered BE sooner. It's a shame that BE isn't taught to more trumpet students as there would be alot less people quitting due to frustration or switching instruments thinking that they were destined to play the baritone! haha. thank you again for everything!"

Ron Chao

2009 email:

"As a comeback trumpet player, I acquired the BE book from you back in April of 2008. What a journey this past year has been. The Balanced Embouchure philosophy has made a huge difference in just about every aspect of my playing.

At the time I started BE exercises I also committed to an embouchure change, since my then open embouchure combined with excessive mouthpiece pressure hindered further improvement and only fleeting satisfaction. Improvements in range and endurance came almost immediately, but I had to start the roll in over several times as I kept trying to make it sound better instead of giving in to the cruder sound of an extremely rolled in lip position based on the Lip Clamp squeak.

So I kept experimenting, reading threads on TH and trying to sound like the CD. While some days were discouraging, I could look back at the progress I'd made and carry on. I'm still not where I want to be, but my playing has improved in critical ways and is more enjoyable than ever.

Many thanks for this wonderful, compelling book. The indirect embouchure transformation that takes place over time is truly amazing. The fact that this balancing process continues as long as the exercises are continued keeps me eagerly practicing.

Well anyway.....count me as another satisfied customer and thanks again for sharing your insight with this once frustrated trumpet player."

Mark Ely
Stanley, NC

2009 email

"Hi Jeff,
I've been working with BE for a while now. I'm 62 years old and had never sustained a quality triple before in my life. The first time it happened, I just picked my jaw off the floor in astonishment.

My chops have never responded this way in the 50 years that I've been playing. It's an incredible experience to RO on a double pedal C and then to drag it up 1 slot at a time to a double G and then keep climbing to a triple G and feeling no fatigue. Then going down each harmonic and having reserve to go to Vassily Brandt Etudes and feeling strong after completing #'s 1 and 4.

In the old days, I would usually have to hang it up after my warm up, if I didn't pace myself carefully. Now (thanks to you) I can go through a full 2 hour schedule of heavy etude work, some Aebersold CDs, some Berklee chord study work and end with your material, and still have chops for my piccolo work.

Your method WORKS!!!!! I Am SO exited. I just wanted to drop you this note to let you know that you have another extremely satisfied customer. Thanks, man!"

Rich Gordon

2008 email:

Hi Jeff!

"Maybe you remember me. I bought your book years ago (via Ko de Rooij) and first I didn't really have any success with it so I quit using it. Last year I took it out again and it suddenly started to work - the major difference was that I let the lower lip go out of the mouthpiece.

So now I am among those, that can not live without doing the exercises from your book. Somehow, they eventually fixed everything. I spent more than 20 years in struggling for endurance, range, tone...and I can't explain to myself why I had so many problems, since it is evident, that is so easy to fix them (it actually took me two weeks to get used to it).

I had more than 20 years of embouchure problems and now they have suddenly all gone, thanks to your book."

Matjaz Mus¹iè

2008 email:

"Hello Jeff,

I practice your method for three years now and I think it's time to thank you for what you've given to the trumpeter's community.

I'm now 50 years old, a nonprofessional trumpet player (amateur). I had a so called "classical education" as a young boy and teenager. I was taught for 7 years by the solo trumpet player of a symphony orchestra connected to a German radio broadcasting company. From the beginning I was musical, and had a big, full and nice sound. Later I was able (mostly) to play up to a high C.

Nevertheless I constantly struggled and fought with that beast called a trumpet (and my 1 1/4C Bach mouthpiece). I think that one of my greatest wishes - to learn playing jazz and improvisation - failed because I lacked normal stamina. Whenever I finished my daily routines (warm ups, technical studies (Arban), tonguing, and so on) I was flattened and not able to play anything else.

Through my whole life I was conducting intensive conversations with professionals and amateurs about embouchure, breathing, mouthpieces and similar themes. When I read your book I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry, especially about the chapter with the teacher characteristics. I got to know them all - breathing fetishists, mouthpiece fetishists, no-pressure fetishists, nice-sound fetishists, tongue - tooth - jaw- fetishists, psychologists and physicians. You are absolutely right!

Most horrible are the guys who know for themselves how it works, where to put the tongue, how to form the lips, cheeks and so on, but cannot tell me what I have to do to get there; what and how I should practice. They can't transfer their knowledge. But you know how it works, and you share this knowledge with the world. It's fantastic!

In the past three years of working halfway steadily with your book, I've made gigantic progress. I now play a high G for the first time in my life, I still can't believe it.

And there is another case in which I needed help: after a holiday. Before I practiced with your method, there was a bad rule for me: as many days as I had holidays, I had to practice extremely hard to reach the pre-holiday condition again. I had a frustration before and during holidays and feared the anticipated torment. Today, after a three weeks holiday I'm back on my top after only 4-5 days!

Your book is more than a trumpet study book! Thank you very much for all that very helpful material. The Trumpet no longer is my beloved enemy, it is my true friend thanks to your help.
Perhaps I'll still learn how to improvise ;-)"

Paul Kollings

2007 BE Forum post:

"I was in a transitioning embouchure when I went to college and ended up getting completely lost. Personally, I've never met anyone else who's embouchure got as messed up as mine. I ended up in and out of school three or four times when I just couldn't figure out how to play anymore. I would work on things, come up with a new way to play, try it at school, discover that it wasn't adequate, quit, etc. etc. I figure I hold some sort of record for most college hours without a degree.

Even though there were tons of phenomenal trumpet players and teachers, none had a clue how to fix my problems. Most tried their hardest to deny that I needed to change my embouchure. In their world everything can be fixed by "listening", and "relaxed breathing", and mouthpiece playing. There were a few that realized that I did need to change my embouchure, but they didn't have a clue how to actually help. I literally spent about 11 years in trumpet playing limbo.

Finally I got on the internet and stumbled across Jeff's web page. I was intrigued because he mentioned his earlier frustrations with players like me, and that he no longer had the same problems with his new system. At this point in my playing I figured I'd give it a try. I had long ago abandoned my hopes to be a pro player and pretty much figured that I didn't care if it didn't work - it certainly couldn't make me any worse of a player.

I took one lesson with Jeff and bought the BE book. I worked on it for a year and half and experienced a lot of improvement , but I knew that I could benefit from another lesson. When I went back and took several more lessons and Jeff showed me some things that I was doing incorrectly giving me some more pointers. It's been half a year since I've seen him but I've made some great improvement.

I'm still on the journey but the fog and mist has cleared away so I can see the path much clearer. When I get a little warm-up, I can play the trumpet relatively easily. My range and endurance continually improve. I was most surprised by the fact that my improv is tons better. You see, now I don't have to think about the mechanics of playing, so I can hear my place in the form and concentrate on my lines. If my schedule allowed it I could go back and finish my Jazz Studies degree, but that's not in the cards right now.

Anyway, I figured that I would be the ultimate test case for the system, since nothing else and nobody else could figure out how to get me to play. BE has worked and is continuing to work for me. I finally enjoy playing the trumpet again."

Danny Smith
Dallas, TX

2007 email

"Hi Jeff,

I just wanted to take a few moments to express my most sincere gratitude for your book and for your Balanced Embouchure system. Your method has changed my life as a trumpet player and changed my life, period. As a young player, I was generally successful, making the Texas All-State Band twice in high school and being the featured soloist in my high school marching band. I had the range and endurance typical of a good young player with an inefficient embouchure. I practiced hard and tried to play the high notes in big band and marching band but was always using lots of pressure and could never find any real consistency no matter what I did or tried. My range topped out at around D or E above high C. I never sniffed anything above a G even on the best days and even then, I would pay for playing up there for the next few days following as the bruises healed. (Once I really hurt myself and took months to recover.)

I continued this way until around the age of 26. At that age something shifted in me and I decided I wanted to go back to school to study music. I had seen enough players out there that seemed to play so much more easily than I could. I wasn't willing to accept the idea that some people are just physically gifted and built to play that way and the rest of us are stuck out in the cold. I began to search for a solution. I checked out every method and philosophy I could find, from the more mainstream like Caruso and Claude Gordon, to the more controversial and bizarre, like the Jerome Callet and Stevens methods.

When I came across your Balanced Embouchure method and read through the basics on your website, I knew immediately that I had found something different and substantial. Although I did find some marginal help from the other methods, for me, BE cut straight to the point. Its clear, simple exercises helped me to discover the efficient embouchure that had been eluding me for the first 12 years of my trumpet playing career.

At this point, I have been doing the Balanced Embouchure exercises for 3 ½ years and I am more convinced than ever that this method far outshines every other method in providing a trumpet player with the tools he needs above all else: an efficient embouchure that allows him to make music the way he chooses to. Now, I play things on the trumpet every day that I honestly would have never dreamt to be possible just a few years ago. My main gig is playing in a salsa band where I play lines and solos up to LOUD F#'s and G's all night long. Practice room range is up to triple C on a good day. But BE is not just about high notes. My tone is so much richer. I play more in tune with less effort. I miss fewer notes. I have far greater flexibility and connecting registers is so much easier. Warm up is no longer a necessity. I am not mouthpiece dependant anymore, although I do love the paint peeling qualities of my 6a4a in the right situation. (a piece I could have barely made a sound on with my old embouchure.) Endurance is almost a non-issue at this point and I often feel better at the end of a 4-hour gig than at the beginning. Although I love to practice more than ever, I have completely lost my dependency on daily practicing to "keep my chops up." I recently took almost two weeks off during a trip to China and to even my own surprise, felt almost no ill effects, jumping right back into a demanding gig schedule without skipping a beat.

I just finished up my masters degree in Jazz Studies at SUNY Purchase where I studied with Jon Faddis, the man with the most efficient and powerful embouchure I have ever seen. Studying with him as I was finding my own efficient setting through BE, was an incredibly enlightening experience. He had never heard of the Balanced Embouchure, but I discovered that he definitely incorporates many basic BE principals into his playing. He plays rolled in, with the corners pushing towards the center of the mouthpiece as he ascends. When I asked him how he articulates in the upper register, he played a few notes up there to see for himself and then told me he tongues through the gap in his teeth, directly off the top lip!

Jeff, thank you so much for putting this book out into the world. I know your methods have been and will continue to be controversial and met with resistance from the "mainstream" trumpet establishment (whatever that really means…), but your results speak for themselves. Like I said earlier, your book and method have changed my trumpet playing and changed my life. I still have a long way to go to really be where I want to be musically, but not having to worry about my "chops" is like playing a whole different ballgame."

Marcus Graf
Austin, TX

2007 email

"Hi Jeff,

I've been doing BE for five years now, and it has completely changed the way I play, the way I teach and my whole perception of how to play the trumpet.

When I started, I had a forced embouchure, ruined by playing lots of heavy jump 'n jive gigs for five years. Even before that my embouchure had never been easy or great. When I was a thirteen, I could play Haydn, at fifteen I finished the Charlier book. But somewhere along the line I started to go the wrong way and it got worse. There was a time where I couldn't play a C in the staff properly anymore, and I was in my fourth year of conservatory at that time!

Anyway, five years ago I had to change something in the way I played, because I was at a dead end and had no clue how to improve. I was stuck at D or E above high C on good days. On bad days I couldn't even play high C properly.

From the moment I started doing your exercises, I felt improvement. I emailed you frequently and was surprised by your very generous way of answering every little question I had. I felt that here was a teacher who stood by his method, and to be honest, that was one of the reasons I kept doing those weird exercises.

It worked at a lot of levels. The first half year I noticed much better endurance and my range finally got past the E barrier and I was able to play up to high G. Later on, I had all kinds of little and bigger surprises. Playing got more supple, my tone opened up, I could play a much smaller mouthpiece with a bigger tone than I had before. All in all, playing became much more efficient, and a pleasure again.

Also I got a much better insight in what makes the trumpet work. Your method 'allowed me' so to speak, to do all kinds of things that are 'forbidden'. Blow my cheeks, tongue on my lips, experiment with different horn angles, play smaller mouthpieces etc. It opened up a whole world of new possibilities.

This also made me a better teacher. I know what works and what doesn't. I never considered myself a bad teacher, but for some problems I just didn't have a solution. Now I feel I can help almost anybody.

So, in short, I improved beyond my wildest dreams in all aspects of playing and teaching the trumpet. I was playing the trumpet for almost thirty years when I started BE, and I thought I was stuck at that level for the rest of my life. But to my big surprise, I don't have to warm up endlessly anymore, I don't have to worry about my chops after one or two days off the horn, or even after a three week holiday, my range has increased up to double C (OK, on a good day), bad days are my former best days, I can help people much better and I just understand what's happened and happening. Even if I take a little detour with an experiment or two, I always can go back where I started because I now very well how I got there in the first place. BE has made me wreckproof."

Thanks Jeff!"

Bert Lochs
Recording Artist and Composer
The Netherlands

2007 email

"Hi Jeff,

Just a few words to tell you how much BE has done for my playing since I got it from Bruce Lee two years ago. As a student from France in the 80's, I studied trumpet with Claude Gordon and arranging with Dick Grove in LA. Since my return to France, I've been playing professionally for many greats (Michel Legrand, Q Jones and so on...)

After years of fear and struggle with my playing, I discovered your book and this one has changed my playing and my life. Now, I can enter long writing periods without fearing of not being ready for the next gig because I didn't practice. After 30 years of playing, I see my playing improving in range, tone and above all: confidence.

I am a member of the French National Jazz Orchestra, and I would like to send you our latest record since you are among the people I thank in the liner notes. Unfortunately, my English is too limited to express my gratitude to you, but I sincerely hope that you will appreciate the CD I'm sending because it represents some significant improvements in my trumpet playing since I've read and practiced from your book.

Can you please send an address where I could send it?


Jean Gobinet
Trumpeter, Composer

PS: I'm a good friend of Wayne Bergeron and I know he appreciates your contribution to trumpet teaching very much.

2007 email

"Mr Smiley,

I'm writing to tell you that I think your book is great. I read it a week ago and started doing the exercises, and I'm just amazed at the difference it's making. I'm a fourth-year trumpet performance major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, studying with Rex Richardson. If you know Wiff Rudd of Baylor in Waco, then you know that the two of them are in a pretty rockin' brass quintet/sextet called Rhythm & Brass.

When I say that I think your book is great, I mean the whole book, and not just the embouchure and high note stuff. I particularly enjoy your thoughts on health and well-being.

Anyway, your book has helped me to get out of a slump. I've been having chop issues for the past year or so, and have seen a purported "chops specialist" in DC a few times, as have some peers of mine, and nothing really came of that but misery. I'm not trying to bad-mouth him, but he has sort of a dogmatic approach that usually involves a complete restructuring of one's embouchure, which my buddy Matt started two years ago and hasn't truly recovered since. I kind of started with this guy's method last year, but bailed because I had to play shows at a theme park over summer and wasn't cutting it sounding like a seventh grader (though with the way some of yours sound...).

I never really pulled it all together after that, and have had cycles of really awesome playing and then would go through a slump and not be able to play anything all that well. The worst cycle was the most recent, which actually made me clinically depressed, and I was giving serious consideration to giving up the trumpet altogether, even here, but one semester from my diploma, after all that work. I was afraid I'd never be able to put on the last recital I need to graduate because I wouldn't be able to last through it, especially given that my previous recital was a disaster.

Before I was pointed to your book, I was playing around with rolling out my bottom lip, and it was doing wonders, and then I read your book and started doing the Roll-Outs and it's just amazing to me that I can sound that good. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Håkan Hardenberger, but consistency of sound and playing in the center of the pitch have been the biggest focuses of my practice for the last four years or so and now they're virtually a non-issue! Furthermore, things that were giving me less trouble but were still a big part of my practice, like clarity of articulation and flexibility, and even playing softly, are clearing right up the more I work. I've even stopped having the "mouthpiece mold" that comes from pressing too hard and usually cripples me after about an hour for at least two or three more.

I should probably wrap up, because I have to play a jury in about a half hour. Keep up the good work. If you're going to be at the ITG conference this May, we should get a pitcher and chat, I think.

Have a good one,"

Cole Baty