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Posted by wilktone in articles
August 21, 2019 at 3:40 PM


Dear Ms. Lewis,

I've spent a little time rereading both this conversation and our email conversation from a couple years ago and think that perhaps we're both getting off on the wrong foot by talking past each other, rather than finding our common ground. I apologize if I've offended you and if you feel personally attacked. Please understand it's not my intention to demean you as an individual, musician, or teacher. Our differences of opinions are only about details. We are obviously both devoted to making a topic that is too often ignored more accessible and understandable to a larger audience. I hope you'll forgive the tone of my previous messages.

I'd like to start by pointing out a couple of things about my own research. First, it isn't all that unique. I've based it on things I was taught or read that others have done first. The experimental study I wrote about in my dissertation ended up with results that were generally inconclusive, something I had been told would probably happen but now we know for sure. Furthermore, there were some flaws in my methodology which makes it harder to generalize the already largely inconclusive results to all players. I view that whole process as the beginning of my understanding and am still trying to learn more. My current projects aren't experimental, they are concerned with outreach to brass teachers and players. I hope that you can see my intentions here are to help you become more aware of some potentially helpful information, not necessarily mine.

Having read your books and many of your articles, I find an awful lot that I think is sound, safe, and accurate advice (and obviously some disagreements). The amount of time you have spent developing and testing your ideas brings experiences worth learning more about. I recognize the insights you gained from your side of things are different from mine and therefore valuable.

Regarding your statistics, I don't doubt you have had over 5000 individuals contacting you for help. I'm not certain that your sample population can be generally applied to the majority of brass players though. Maybe they can, but unless we apply certain controls and apply an appropriate statistical method we really don't know for sure. I imagine that many people asking for your help after an embouchure injury are specifically seeking your expertise because they know you study embouchure injuries of the particular type they have. As a sample population, they are self-selecting because they already fit your criteria for "embouchure overuse syndrome." That may be one reason why your 98% figure is so high, only people with "embouchure overuse syndrome" are contacting you. If we sampled some brass players without embouchure difficulties and asked them the same interview questions we might get the exact same numbers or wildly different ones. Many working professionals and music students regularly have demanding playing engagements and it's only those times when we injure ourselves that we notice that we're overplaying or doing something wrong. Rather than only looking at the heavy playing as an underlying cause, perhaps we should also be looking at their embouchure form to see what characteristics are more prone to injuries than others and why.

I also wonder if you have a common misunderstanding about a correlation and a causation. As a non-musical example, we might note that there is a correlation between teen smoking and poor grades, but that doesn't mean that smoking is the cause of the poor grades. Likewise, I don't know that we should be so certain that 98% of embouchure problems are caused by "embouchure overuse syndrome." I do agree that there's probably a relationship between embouchure injury a overplaying, though.

Lastly, I feel that your term "embouchure overuse syndrome" can be potentially misleading and is too broadly defined. In my opinion, it would be better to simply call the injury or symptom what it happens to be, whether that's a pinched nerve, bruised lip, lip abrasions, etc. The "overuse" term implies that the real reason was the musician overplayed. A more accurate depiction might be to say that when fatigue sets in the musician has a tendency to allow his or her embouchure form to suffer in a particular way that makes it more prone to injury or otherwise break down. Like lifting with your back, you can get away with it for a while, but you risk injury if you do it even just once while tired.

I hope you understand that none of this means you aren't helping a lot of players. I might quibble about the details of your suggestions and observations, but I feel it has some good advice for players coming back from embouchure injuries. I also don't want to come across as suggesting you give up everything you've already learned. Rather, I want to suggest some other viewpoints may offer another tool for the toolbox. If the only tool we have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.



Best,

Dave Wilken

P.S. I've cross posted this here .

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by wilktone in articles
August 18, 2019 at 1:23 PM


Hi again, Ms./Mrs./Dr. Lewis.

Even if my motives are as you believe, which they are not, it wouldn't matter. What matters are the ideas themselves and whether they are accurate. Let's stick to that part of the discussion and leave out the ad hominem attacks. Thanks.

As far as my own research goes, here is where you can find my first major project on brass embouchures. It discusses my methodology and IRB protocols in detail if you want to read it. It also includes a review of the literature describing both contrary resources as well as others that had already independently confirmed some of the embouchure characteristics I was looking at. Many of those sources will have additional resources listed in their own review of the literature, which may be more directly relevant to your personal area of interest. A blinded peer-reviewed article I wrote that included some discussion on embouchure types can be read here .

Those are the more academic embouchure projects I've been involved with. My current project is to document and catalogue as many brass embouchures that I can, so that other researchers, teachers, and players can make use of it. I've made lot of this research available already for others to view online (including much of the raw data). To see a summary of the basic brass embouchure types (as I prefer to discuss them, it isn't the only way) you can look here . A more complete version can be found here . To see how I try to use these embouchure patterns to help troubleshoot issues you can look here and here . For some other resources where you can see the same embouchure patterns that came from independent sources you can look here, here, here, and here . There are others, but that should be enough to get the idea. If you need more, I would recommend visiting a university library and get a research librarian to help you do a search through the literature.

After looking through many of those resources you should be able to tell for yourself if they are indeed unproven. Better still, look for yourself.

Now, please return the favor and describe your methodology or send us to a resource where we can at least get an idea. This is directly relevant to a discussion of your research and dodging this by questioning my motives and denying the existence of work that others have done isn't helping move this discussion forward.


Thanks,

Dave

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by cinlewis in articles
August 18, 2019 at 2:55 AM


Mr. Wilken's seems to be incapable of engaging in a debate on the subjects of mouthpiece pressure or embouchure overuse.  That is, after all, the purpose of this forum.  Instead, he attempts to diminish my work, as he has done in other online forums, by taking issue with what he alleges is the "lack of scientific integrity" of my conclusions, my failure to publish my "methodology", and stating incredulity at the number of players reporting injuries to me--in other words, calling me a liar.   As I have said to Mr. Wilken previously, unless he can offer more than personal opinion on the subject of embouchure and documented support for his views, he might want  to resist the selfish, ego-boosting thrill of trashing other people's work, motives, and methods as a means of inflating the value of his own unproven, unvetted, and yet-to-be-peer-reviewed theories.

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by wilktone in articles
August 17, 2019 at 3:40 PM


Hi, again Ms. (Mrs? Dr.?) Lewis.

I would enjoy discussing the finer points of your research again some time, but when you don't make your methodology available it's impossible to tell if you're a trained research scientist applying appropriate methods, a victim of confirmation bias, or even just making things up.

Honestly, I find 5000 subjects an implausible number, even over decades of research. Emails and phone conversations can't count here, and any unsolicited subjects taint your data with a self-selection bias that have to be controlled for. Your own bias (we all have them) also need to be addressed in your methodology. We don't conduct research looking for things we want to see, we do it by subjecting our ideas to the null hypothesis and attempt to falsify it. Additionally, another concern would be getting Institutional Review Board approval and signed subject consent forms to conduct occupational therapy research utilizing human test subjects, an ethical and potentially legal issue.

I appreciate that you take the time to offer your personal conclusions directly to the people who will benefit from it the most, but when you make claims that are untrue (e.g., no research has been done when it has), you don't help your case. Particularly when you reject that research as "antiquated" without even reading an abstract. As an expert in your field, maybe you should hold yourself to a higher standard than your targeted audience?

None of this means you're wrong, but I hope that you can see that from other points of view all this looks suspiciously like pseudoscience. You can easily address this if you make your methodology available. Even if you don't go through a peer review process, it would certainly help establish your credibility to other experts and even generate interest in further research. It would be neat to have to revise my opinions and learn something new, and it could potentially teach us both something as others examine your work and poke at it from directions you hadn't considered. This is how real scientific progress is made, not from a single individual working in isolation from other researchers.


Best,


Dave

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by cinlewis in articles
August 17, 2019 at 10:19 AM


It is difficult to argue that my research has been done in a vacuum when it is based upon the experiences of so many players from all over the world, 91% of whom are professional players of different backgrounds, styles, embouchure philosophies, and training, all with years of successful performance experience. I know of no other embouchure research that is based upon such an enormous sample of personal experiences. Were there legitimate, empirical, helpful studies on embouchure problems to be found in the public domain, as wilktone suggests, I doubt so many thousands of players would have contacted me for information and assistance. Most of these players had already done considerable research on embouchure problems before reaching out to me and found nothing which provided them with answers or solutions. One reason I began my project in the first place was because of the total void of useful, fact-based information on embouchure problems and injuries that I encountered when I was an injured player.

One thing I have learned in my years of researching the performance injuries of brass players is that players gravitate more to common sense information and advice than they do to embouchure studies which have been peer reviewed.

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by wilktone in articles
August 17, 2019 at 7:22 AM


A couple more thoughts.

Quote:
Since all of the studies cited by wilktone are quite antiquated,. . .


You stated that there weren't any scientific studies about mouthpiece pressure, so I listed a few. The fact the ones I listed are a little older only means that they've been around longer, not that they are wrong.

Quote:
it stands to reason that a new paradigm regarding mouthpiece pressure would emerge . . .


Since you weren't familiar with the studies, you probably aren't aware that most actually would agree with your thoughts on mouthpiece pressure.

My point isn't that your thoughts on pressure are wrong, per se, just that you've develop some of your ideas in a vacuum. Research requires that you spend time looking at what other people have done before you for a variety of reasons, including no reinventing the wheel.

As far as your numbers go, unless you publish your methodology for collecting data, I think it's fair to take your hypothesis with a grain of salt. 5000 anecdotes are no better than 1 anecdote when it comes to research. A more transparent discussion of how you conducted your research, especially going through a peer review process, would go a long way into getting your ideas more established. I hope you'll consider doing this sometime.

None of which says anything about your "embouchure overuse syndrome" hypothesis other than suggesting that perhaps you might want to look around at some of the research available. An academic librarian would be able to help you with this, should you ever make the effort.

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by wilktone in articles
August 16, 2019 at 11:02 PM


Quote:
Mouthpiece pressure is a symptom of mechanical problems, not the cause.


Agreed.

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by cinlewis in articles
August 16, 2019 at 3:27 PM


Since all of the studies cited by wilktone are quite antiquated, it stands to reason that a new paradigm regarding mouthpiece pressure would emerge from the more than 5000 cases of embouchure overuse I have documented since 2002. With such a huge number of injured players, 98% of whom reported having developed protracted embouchure problems following a period of severe embouchure overuse, embouchure overuse syndrome can no longer be classified as a hypothesis. When 5000+ players report having noticed uncomfortable mouthpiece pressure only after each began experiencing overuse-related performance issues, it is difficult to dismiss the nexus between underperforming or overuse-weakened playing mechanics and mouthpiece pressure. Mouthpiece pressure is a symptom of mechanical problems, not the cause.

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by wilktone in articles
August 16, 2019 at 11:44 AM


Quote:
There has never been a bona fide scientific study on mouthpiece pressure in which a sensitive, high-tech pressure-measuring device has been used to determine how much pressure per square millimeter is safe, effective in playing, and acceptable.


While I feel that the bulk of Ms. Lewis advice here is good, the above quote is not accurate. Ms. Lewis has spent a lot of time working on her hypothesis of "embouchure overuse syndrome" but occasionally demonstrates a lack of keeping up with all the other embouchure research going on. Here are a few things I found, and if you note the dates they are actually not very recent at all.

Froelich, J. (1990). The mouthpiece forces used during trombone performances, The International Trombone Association Journal, 18, 16-23.

"Mouthpiece forces produced while playing the trumpet" J.C. Barbenela, P. Kenny*, b and J.B. Daviesb
Received 7 August 2019; revised 5 June 2019. Available online 4 April 2019.

"Measurement of tooth displacements and mouthpiece forces during brass instrument playing" L. Borchers , M. Gebert and T. Jung
Received 18 May 2019; accepted 24 January 2019. Available online 28 December 2019.

"An Experimental Study of Trumpet Embouchure" J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Volume 14, Issue 1, pp. 127-127 (1942); (1 page) Hayward W. Henderson

"Science Proves Musical Myths Wrong." Joe Barbenel, John Booth Davies, and Patrick Kenny, New Scientist, April 3, 2019, p. 29-31.

Article: Mouthpiece Pressure - Fact or Myth (click to view in context)

Posted by Lorrytax in articles
May 17, 2019 at 7:01 PM


I'm curious: Assts Used in Distributive Trades and Service Activiities (Rev Proc 87-56) shows that Assets unique to wholezsale and retain trade, and personal and professional services get MACRS/post-1998 AMT treatment of 5 years. I have one obsservation: Performing Arts can come under Personal Service Professions and are considered as such for the AMT on equipment of 5 years. Is it likely that AMT would be given a shorter depreciation than the 7 years being advocated in the article? I have a case where depreciation was taken over 10; sometimes 15 sometimes 30 years (by a previous accountant); and I filed a 481(a) adjustment on the schedule Cs and the client is under audit. I am preparing for the audit now. I filed a 3115 both with the returns and mailed to DC. Any thoughts on what I'm trying to do would be helpful. Although I could switch to double declining balance and come out just ahead.
thank you,
Lorry

Article: Depreciation of Musical Instruments (click to view in context)

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