Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Michael Walls, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Michael Walls

    Michael Walls New Member

    I find after a sustained period of practice my lips appear red in a mouthpiece shape and tingle for some time after
    Is this normal am I doing something wrong or will it pass with practice
  2. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    Michael - sounds to me like you are pressing too hard - ie shoving the mouthpiece on to the face. Often more of a problem with cornets playing towards the top of range, but can affect players of other instruments too.

    From memory you're on tenor horn and only just coming (back) to playing?

    Trick I was taught as a kid was to hang the instrument up - ideally from a hook in the ceiling - using a rope, so that it "swings" freely, with the mouthpiece at face level. You then walk up to the instrument and try and produce a note without touching the instrument with your hands. Then develop a decent note. Then try different pitches. Very tricky but if you can do it successfully it makes playing a lot easier.

    Pressure is usually used to help "boost" top end notes - perhaps try lower notes, bottom of stave, long notes. Its good to develop sound, help lung capacity (generally notes at the bottom end need more "puff") and will stop you needing to push hard

    Some tingling is normal, as blood supply improves to areas not often used, but excessive or prolonged tingling may spell problems - it is possible to injure your lip muscles in the same way you can injure leg or groin muscles if youre an athlete. If it hurts too much, stop - and at the end of every practice warm down properly if you can - again long low stuff works for me.
    If you overdo it, then put the instrument away and just do very gentle blowing the next day. Your mouth is just as important to the playing process as the bits of metal you hold in your hands - in some ways more so, as the instrument just amplifies what youre doing to produce the note.
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  3. Michael Walls

    Michael Walls New Member

    Thanks will put that into practice
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  4. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I think you might have got your brass playing and apple-bobbing lessons mixed up ;)
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  5. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    That was a favourite of Jack Mackintosh see the commetns below this recording...
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  6. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Oh my word! His tonguing is AWESOME. Thank you Andrew for posting this as I'd not heard of him before.
    Michael Walls likes this.
  7. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

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  8. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I still get that red ring now, though it only stings if I've played beyond my limits, for example - if I used too much pressure to complete a concert.

    You need just enough pressure to create a seal (so that you're not leaking air... not so that your embouchure can go hunting tapdancing penguins.. anyway) any more can become counterproductive quite quickly.

    If there's merit in the exercise euphonium-lite mentioned above, it's that you have to try and create that seal by bringing your embouchure corners forwards (the outer area of your embouchure that meets the mouthpiece, not the parts of the lips closest to your ears) rather than by smushing the centre of the lips back with pressure... And this is why the "smile" embouchure mentioned in a previous thread isn't great - because it pulls your embouchure corners back away from the mouthpiece to play high which makes additional pressure necessary to maintain the seal.

    If you take two fingers together and place them perpendicular across your embouchure (fingertips touching the base of the nose) so lips together but not too tightly, and try two things... First, try the "smile towards your ears" and feel how the lips pull away from the fingers. Next, try to gently push the fingers away at the outsides, that's the kind of seal you're looking for - if you then breathe through the sides of your mouth (without removing the fingers) then close the sides and bring the corners forwards again by that fraction to make the seal.
    If you now go back to the instrument try playing a few notes with breaths inbetween - first removing the instrument from the lips to breathe each time and second by keeping the mouthpiece in gentle contact with the embouchure and breathing through the corners... Do you notice any change in consistency?

    You do need enough pressure to maintain the seal properly - absolutely zero pressure is neither possible not desirable, though attempting to achieve it may be a valuable way to decrease pressure.

    The other thing not yet mentioned is that (though rare) allergic reactions are possible - particularly to nickel plating found on some cheaper mouthpieces, but some players even get them to silver plating too.
    This probably isn't the case, but if you start getting blisters or any other signs of allergy it might be worth bearing in mind.

    As always, best of luck (both with progress and with surviving my long meandering posts) :)
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  9. Michael Walls

    Michael Walls New Member

    Thanks thats great. I search you tube over breakfast every morning lookin
  10. Michael Walls

    Michael Walls New Member

    Not at all they are really interesting and a great help
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  11. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Wow - just WOW, Tom!!

    At the moment I can't play my baritone at all (the docs say my lungs are "a work in progress" - internal surfaces are inflamed, and I struggle for breath even to hold a lengthy conversation) - but I tried both your suggestions. I could feel exactly what you said about the centre of my lips pulling away when I made the 'smile' - and how easy it is to shift my lips slightly forward at the sides of the embouchure to give a reliable seal at the edges - something which has given me trouble right from the start.

    Um. I can only say, if you have any more ideas for 'long meandering posts', Tom - bring 'em on! :)

    Thank you, and best regards,

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  12. TrumpetNick

    TrumpetNick Member

    Not really, but if you don't necessarily have to instal a hook to do this on small instruments (trumpets and cornets). There are 2 possible approaches, know to me:

    1. Palm Exercises
    2. Grab the horn by the middle piston with two fingers aka a hook and play the open harmonics on the horn.
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