A variety of topics in this update…
MOUTHPIECE TRIAL - CONCLUSION
After placing an order for 5 mouthpieces over a month ago, I finally received the shipment last week. I only ended up with 4 mouthpieces, though, as the Wick mouthpiece was still out of stock. I just know it would have been the *perfect* mouthpiece ;-)
It only took about 10 minutes for me to eliminate the Schilke 14C2. It didn't work for me at all. I'm not sure about the Curry mouthpieces (Curry 60M and Curry 5C). I like my tone in the 5C, but it's really tough for me to play high. The 60M, on the other hand, feels incredibly small and my tone seems too thin. It helps with the high register, so perhaps I'll hold onto it in case I ever have a gig where I need to play a screaming F at the top of the staff…
By process of elimination, that leaves the Marcinkiewicz 4/7C as the favorite (thanks for the suggestion, Ron!). I've been playing on it for the past couple of days and I really like it. The rim is fairly comfortable and the rim seems to be deep enough to provide a good tone, yet not too deep that it hinders my range. Lookout D above C in the staff!
Update 4/19/2008: - A month or two after the above posting, I returned to my Yamaha 11C4-7C mouthpiece. In the end, the Marcinkiewicz wasn't as comfortable as the Yamaha and it thinned out my tone a little too much for my liking.
All jokes aside, I've been feeling discouraged lately (for the past couple of months) with the balanced embouchure (BE) stuff. It's been over 8 months now since I've been doing the various exercises on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I don't really feel like my range or endurance has strengthened. At least not while improvising. I know I'm a better player now than when I began, but that's to be expected. After all, when I started BE, I was only about 6 months into my comeback.
So, what now? I haven't given up on BE (yet), but after reading so much about Caruso on The Trumpet Herald, and after hearing Randy Brecker talk about it last week (and demonstrate it!), I figure it's worth a shot. I've already got the book. I started a couple of days ago.
Taking more advice from Randy, I also bought "Flexus" and "Forward Motion". "Flexus" is a jazz-oriented interpretation of the Caruso stuff. Actually, it's quite a bit more than that, but it follows some of the same concepts. So far I'm really enjoying "Flexus", as the exercises sound unlike any other book I've seen.
"Forward Motion" also seems like it will be very helpful. It focuses on jazz phrasing (rhythm, articulation, creating excitement, etc). I'm not too far in yet, but it's already given me some new ideas.