Wynton Marsalis Discussion Forum

   

Lip problems… Help appreciated…

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Joined 2012-01-15

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Hello all. Ive been playing trumpet for the best part of 15 years now and been pro for almost 5.  So far I’ve had a few lip injuries (ulcers, a knock from football) etc etc.  I play usually 7 nights a week in my job, anything from big band to musicals to the odd classical set. I have been reading up a little on a situation known as ‘stiff lip’. At the moment (it’s occurred before) I’m havin big issues with stamina and the higher register. My lips feel (esp the top lip) weathered, almost brittle and more than anything it’s very frustrating sitting there not being able to play music which you know you can play standing on your head! In the past my job has enabled me to have a few days off, at the moment that isn’t possible. I always warm up with buzzing on my mouthpiece, low octaves etc etc. Does anyone have advice on other ways of overcoming this, things to do/not to do. Or does it just require some nights rest? Thanks all.

     
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thanks :)

     
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andyb0304 - 15 January 2012 03:18 PM



Hello all. Ive been playing trumpet for the best part of 15 years now and been pro for almost 5.  So far I’ve had a few lip injuries (ulcers, a knock from football) etc etc.  I play usually 7 nights a week in my job, anything from big band to musicals to the odd classical set. I have been reading up a little on a situation known as ‘stiff lip’. At the moment (it’s occurred before) I’m havin big issues with stamina and the higher register. My lips feel (esp the top lip) weathered, almost brittle and more than anything it’s very frustrating sitting there not being able to play music which you know you can play standing on your head! In the past my job has enabled me to have a few days off, at the moment that isn’t possible. I always warm up with buzzing on my mouthpiece, low octaves etc etc. Does anyone have advice on other ways of overcoming this, things to do/not to do. Or does it just require some nights rest? Thanks all.

A couple of ideas… A warm compress will help really break up that lactic acid build up in your lips, which I would imagine is most of the problem you’re experiencing with your current playing schedule. Just take a wash cloth, run hot water on it (not too hot!) and slap that bad boy on your lips and keep it there for 20 minutes or so… I’m going to imagine, since you’re playing professionally, that you’re more of a 50/50 player when it comes to your mouth piece placement. That being side, maybe try to put more of the pressure you’re using on the bottom lip. It’ll help take some of the pressure off of the top lip. Though I bet you’re probably doing that also… When I’m playing lead, and/or extended playing in the upper registers for classical music, I definitely try to make it a point to try and take as much pressure off of that top lip as I can, without sacrificing the quality of my sound.

And as always its all about that warm-up and warm down process. Make sure you’re getting a good lengthy and relaxed warm up. Get a nice tingle going in the lips, and then put the horn down for that same duration of time you spent on the warm up. (lower register and pedal tones will be your friend) Doing this will help break up a lot of that lactic acid build up also.

And finally, make sure your air is really flowing freely and doing the majority of the work… I’d say really take some time getting your air working, off of the horn, before going to your warm up. Freedom of air flow will really help you through your current heavy playing schedule.

Sometime we have to remind ourselves to take it back to the pedagogical basics. Air flow, flat pointed chin (no bunching!), an even distribution of the mouth piece on our chops, and a balanced embouchure set up of pucker/smile.

Best of luck!