How I came to BE

October 9, 2009

Val w/ horn 






Hello and thanks for stopping by.  I’m a horn player starting this blog to share my success using The Balanced Embouchure and to provide a place for other horn players to share their positive experiences with BE. The Balanced Embouchure (BE for short) is an embouchure development system originally written for trumpet by Jeff Smiley. 

In high school I played a variety of brass instruments, but excelled on horn so decided to study it  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 transforming my embouchure into a classic Farkas French horn embouchure.  Guess what?  It was not successful, I got frustrated & dropped out of music school 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 and rearing a family, I indulged myself  by purchasing a horn and hiring a private instructor in Januray of 2006.  Thinking that I’d probably done something “wrong” in college, I redoubled my efforts to develop the perfect Farkas embouchure.  I practiced hard & soon regained my previous college playing level which, unfortunately, included my range & endurance limiting embouchure.

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 before.  But, I was looking for something else — I didn’t know what — but I knew IT had to be new and different.  I found IT on Jeff Smiley’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.  I’ve been playing now for less than four years and, of course, I still have many technical obstacles to overcome, but there’s one obstacle I no longer wrestle with, an inefficient embouchure.  I can play the full range of the horn with a pretty decent tone and I’m no longer afraid of high notes or running out of steam half way through a concert.  Thanks to Jeff Smiley, range & endurance are no longer holding  me back.  Whoo hoo!

I have been so successful in promoting The Balanced Embouchure within the horn communty, Jeff Smiley honored me with a request to handle sales and consultation for French Horn players.  “The Balanced Embouchure” is available directly from me.  My exercises adapted for French horn are available at no extra charge with the purchase of the BE book.    

Please visit my new blog address:

Valerie Wells    ValerieW78 “at” gmail “dot” com

PS  It is not my intention to trash the Farkas method or my university horn instructor.  They did the best they could with what they had at the time.  It would be over two decades before Jeff Smiley would publish the method that could help me.