embouchure/lip injury advice

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by RoseSpoons, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. RoseSpoons

    RoseSpoons New Member

    I don't know if anyone can help but I am a cornet player who is after some advice.

    Basically, the thing is, a few years ago I had a trumpet teacher who got me to completely change my embouchure.
    (I used to play with my instrument very high in an upright position, with lots of pressure, and apparently curled my lip in a funny way)

    My teacher got me to go right back to basics with a completely new embouchure - buzzing, long notes, less pressure etc. At first it was like when I first picked up a brass instrument when I was about 10 years old – on my new embouchure I could play about 5 notes! For about a year everything went very well though and by the end of the year, in many ways, I was playing better than I had ever played before.

    But then it all went wrong! My lips went really sore and painful, even when I wasn’t playing. The more practice I did the worse I sounded and I felt like I was constantly fighting to get anything to come out of the instrument – it was almost as if the air was coming back at me in the opposite direction!

    I tried taking short breaks of a few days or a few weeks but this only resulted in minimal improvements. In the end I stopped playing completely for about a year and a half because it seemed like the only option left.

    About a year ago I started playing again and I joined a brass band again. I think that over the last year I have made a lot of progress towards getting my playing back to normal. I am fairly sure that any damage that I may have done to my lip previously has now healed.

    But I am still not happy. I still can’t play as easily as I used to be able to. My lips still go tight and unresponsive sometiimes. I feel like I am almost there but not quite. This is why I have decided to take a few months out from playing in a band to get this sorted once and for all, so that I can fully enjoy playing again.

    In particular I would love to see some sort of brass physician so that I can reassure myself that my lips really are physically ok now. I have bought a book called ‘Embouchure Rehabilitation’ by Lucinda Lewis that contains useful advice and exercises. It also mentions a brass physician in America – but that’s not very helpful to me in England! So I was wondering if anyone knows of any similar experts in the UK?

    The Lucinda Lewis book is good but I want to find out as much information as possible, so I am wondering if anyone can suggest any other books on the ‘mechanics’ of brass playing and dealing with lip problems/injuries?

    Finally, if anyone else has experienced similar problems I would love know how you dealt with them.
  2. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

  3. RoseSpoons

    RoseSpoons New Member

    Thanks, that link looks promising and is exactly the sort of thing I am after. :)
  4. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    I know people who have experienced similar things and have chosen to ignore the problem and hope that by doing so it will go away. I think that by wanting to do something about it, you're already half way there.
    Sorry I can't actually help at all, but I do admire you for sticking with it!
  5. TheConductor

    TheConductor New Member

    I have had pupils that have had similar problems to yourself. I found out by a mere coincidence that they were allergic to the plating of the mouthpiece. I sorted them with a plastic mouthpiece and ,so far they have been happy. Hope this helps.
  6. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    May I suggest that you take a look at some of Claude Gordon's books/material.

    Also are you sure it's physical and not a subconcious issue.

    A member of my family went through something similar....he was a fine cornnet/trumpet player although he was very much upstream type player, he had won awards etc and was regularly gigging.....he went to a well known teacher who changed his embouchure....it looked fantastic but never worked.....he went through the same frustrations as you did and it was heart breaking to those who played with him.
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - Good idea & it's a cheap one to try as well ... buy a Kelly mouthpiece that matches your own! :clap:
  8. Mephi

    Mephi Member

    I've had the similar problems, lack of flexibility, diminished range and sound quality. Rest (beit days, weeks, etc) works but the run up to the areas has been a toil and a mental nightmare! I have played top man in top section bands and Solo Cornet in other elite bands, my strengths have been my range and sound, at the mo i'm relying on my technique (aaargh!) to get me through!! Doesn't help that the guy i'm bumper up to has a gorgeous free sound! Having played at a high level and studied for two performance degrees I've tried everything in the book, improved my breathing, used less pressure etc etc

    I've recently purchased a ViBrass to try and eliminate any muscle damage done but haven't ruled out the metal allergy aspect. I'm 32 now and played for 25 years, can i develop a metal allergy now, would it have these effects and can you find out medically?
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Have a read of this introduction to lip fatigue and see if anything can be related to what's happening to you ... do you know any remedial specialists in your locality to get it checked out?

  10. RoseSpoons

    RoseSpoons New Member

    I will definitely give this a try. I will see if I can buy a plastic mouthpiece this weekend. I hope that the solution to my problems is this simple - it will be a great relief if it is!

    Cheers for your support! It's always nice to be admired! :p

    I have questioned whether it could be a pychological barrier but however I look at it I know it has to be more than this. The pain, soreness and dryness in my lips when it first started was very real and physically evident. The inability to be able to get sound out of my instrument easily was also very real and physically evident. Both things happened at the same time and happened fairly suddenly, rather than a gradual decline over time.

    This is actually an extract from one of two books that I have just purchased: 'Broken Embouchures' and 'Embouchure Rehabilitation' by Lucinda Lewis. I don't think it is any of the medical conditions listed here. I think the description that closest matches what I have experienced is here: http://www.embouchures.com/Overuse.htm. I don't know of any specialists within my locality, or indeed within the country! I would very much like to know if anyone knows of such a person though - I fear there are not many people with this sort of specialist knowledge at all...so maybe once I have conquered this I should become one such specialist for other people! :)
  11. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member

  12. TheConductor

    TheConductor New Member

  13. Alyn James

    Alyn James Member


Share This Page