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Thread: Caruso exercises

  1. #1

    Caruso exercises

    Randomly running through web pages on embouchure exercises/strengthening, I came across one on Caruso exercises on a trombone players site. The one thing that struck me was the advised technique of keeping the embouchure set and breathing through the nose during the exercises. That is antithetical to everything I've been taught on breathing during exercises. Does anyone here believe there is a place for breathing through the nose in certain exercises so as not to disturb the embouchure as a way to strengthen the embouchure? First time I'd ever heard that.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger View Post
    Randomly running through web pages on embouchure exercises/strengthening, I came across one on Caruso exercises on a trombone players site. The one thing that struck me was the advised technique of keeping the embouchure set and breathing through the nose during the exercises. That is antithetical to everything I've been taught on breathing during exercises. Does anyone here believe there is a place for breathing through the nose in certain exercises so as not to disturb the embouchure as a way to strengthen the embouchure? First time I'd ever heard that.
    Hi Roger,

    The Caruso exercises are not breathing exercises. Their purpose is to train the emboucher to make changes with a minimum amount of movement. Also, breathing through the nose is a well-known technique when playing in the high range, where shifting to take a breath may be problematic.

    Mike

  3. #3
    That's good to know, Mike -- had no idea, thanks.

  4. I always figure you should practice how you play. The ability to take a breath and play any note, be it high or low, would seem to make sense. So practicing another way makes no sense for me. Forming the embouchure shouldn't take machinations. I see people do all sorts of pre-play movements. Invariably, these are not great players nor do they have good tone.
    Richard

    1935 Conn 64I Baritone
    Mouthpieces: Too many to list and growing

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard III View Post
    I always figure you should practice how you play. The ability to take a breath and play any note, be it high or low, would seem to make sense. So practicing another way makes no sense for me. Forming the embouchure shouldn't take machinations. I see people do all sorts of pre-play movements. Invariably, these are not great players nor do they have good tone.
    This is Carmine Caruso. So, he may be giving good advice.
    http://www.carminecaruso.net/

    Other proponents of breathing through nose (sniffing) were Harold Brasch and Roger Behrend. In Brasch's book, "The Euphonium and Four Valve Brasses", he gives the example of a cadenza in a Clarke solo that has a paused high B flat, C, D and E flat. He recommends breathing through the nose so as to avoid needing to reset for each note. He feels that this results in better consistency. If you can nail it each time taking a big breath between notes then go for it!

    Mike

  6. #6
    If you're interested in learning more about the Caruso method, I would recommend searching for Julie Landsman on YouTube. She was the principle horn at the Metropolitan Opera and does a lot of Caruso method masterclasses and stuff. I've never done any Caruso exercises so can't speak from experience in that regard, but Ms. Landsman is clearly a great musician and educator so you might find something interesting in her videos. She also has a very interesting interview on the Sarah Willis Horn Hangouts (as does Steven Mead to throw in some euphonium content) that you may enjoy watching as well.

  7. #7
    I personally use Caruso's method and Julie Landsman's version lately, she has some really interesting exercises.
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL

    https://soundcloud.com/ashsparkle_chika
    https://www.youtube.com/user/AshTSparkle/

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger View Post
    Randomly running through web pages on embouchure exercises/strengthening, I came across one on Caruso exercises on a trombone players site. The one thing that struck me was the advised technique of keeping the embouchure set and breathing through the nose during the exercises. That is antithetical to everything I've been taught on breathing during exercises. Does anyone here believe there is a place for breathing through the nose in certain exercises so as not to disturb the embouchure as a way to strengthen the embouchure? First time I'd ever heard that.
    I confess I have not heard about this. For me, it would not be possible because my nasal passages have some disruptions that would require surgery I have chosen not to do. I can't inhale enough air through my nose without making too much noise. It's one of the reasons I have not bothered to practice circular breathing.

    Techniques like this, which can help you in tough places, are valid if they work for you. One might suffer from practicing this for too long at a time, though. Your chops could "take a set" to that tighter embouchure and limit your flexibility, at least in the short term.

    An advantage to the disruption of your chops if you take a normal breath is that the muscles not only have to move, the GET to move, which encourages circulation.

    FWIW: In my case, I've never had a great need for this in the high range. I would love to find a way to get more air in the middle range, and would really love to find a way in the low range! *IF* I ever learn to circular breathe it will be to be able to sneak in a little air to extend a long phrase a bit. I might be able to that slowly enough to be quiet about it.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  9. #9
    Caruso's has been the first thing I play to start my warm up every time I practice for some time.
    A trumpet player friend of mine introduced it to me in college in the 90's.
    After my 20+ year layoff from playing I quickly incorporated in my routine.
    I even found that doing them at home before a rehearsal/gig put me in a "pre-warm up" position allowing for less noodling before the rehearsal starts.
    Sam Burtis has some nice information on his website about it geared towards trombone/lowbrass.

    I actually reached out to Ms. Landsman a few years ago to see if she had her exercises available in bass clef for those of us who are still clef-challenged.
    She kindly responded she did not. Looks like I will have to practice my transposing skills.

    Michael Saffier

  10. #10
    Interesting comments from a variety of perspectives. We're all different and what works for some might not work for another. I've already tried the "6 notes" and have ordered the introductory Caruso book. I can how see the nose breathing technique can strengthen the embouchure, just as other embouchure exercises do as well. As in anything, a variety of exercises and techniques based on one's level of expertise and goals is always appropriate. Good discussion.

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