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Unique Methods of Strengthening:
Reinhardt- the Pencil Trick Routine has been
recommended by many brass teachers since Reinhardt first wrote of it in 1942.
Armando Ghitalla instructed his students to hold a pencil in their mouths to help strengthen the embouchure muscles. This well known "pencil routine" has its limitations and can sometimes cause stiffening of the muscles if overdone.
Carmine Caruso wrote a book called Musical Calisthenics for Brass, in which he describes a way to strengthen the corners of the embouchure by keeping the corners firm (without release), and breathing through the nose while playing his exercises.
Leon Merian stresses the use of isometrics to strengthen facial muscles. He tells his students that it is extremely important to use all of the muscles in the face to maintain the embouchure.
James Thompson recently wrote a great book called The Buzzing Book for mouthpiece buzzing. The Buzzing Book is the revised and expanded version of his original book, Buzzing Basics and replaces it. In his explanation of air flow through the embouchure, he describes "...the correct balance of air pressure and muscular contraction focuses the air column into a cylindrical shape...these outward-pushing forces must be contained by the embouchure muscles.".... and says "At louder dynamics the embouchure must work harder to contain the air pressure." Though this is not a similar method to Chop-Sticks, one would agree that mouthpiece buzzing is a method that is used by some to strengthen facial muscles.
Jeanne Pocius (who is sometimes referred to as the Chop Doc) also recommends the use of isometric exercises when you have to be away from the horn. She says that they are great for developing and maintaining your chops.
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