Embouchure problems


Supporting Member
I have a really good friend who's having some serious embouchure problems that I can't seem to solve.

It causes her lower jaw to vibrate violently at any pitch at lower volume. I've tried getting her to rearrange her embouchure, open and close the jaw and lips, put more and less pressure on the mouthpiece and many other things, but nothing seems to affect this problem.

Until this started to happen I'd never seen a problem like it. I know it's not lack of practice because I've never known anyone practice as much.

I have a feeling there might be a psychological problem as well, because the problem seems worse when someone else is listening and durng rehearsals it gets worse when the parts are exposed. This could just be a confidence thing though, because she is very conscious of the problem - how could she not be. :cry:

If anyone has come across a similar problem and knows of any strategies to improve the situation I would be immensely grateful. This one is beyond me. My friend is a baritone player, BTW.


Supporting Member
Thanks Roger,

I'll give it a go. Anything's better than watching the poor girl suffer. :cry:


It causes her lower jaw to vibrate violently at any pitch at lower volume.

I've tried getting her to rearrange her embouchure, open and close the jaw and lips,

I would hazard a guess that the jaw/lip aperture position is too open...this then leaves the embouchure corner muscles under too much stress to hold the lips together in a close enough position to be able to sustain the quiter dynamics...they then shake with the effort..I have seen/heard this before to varying degrees.

Iit's a bit like a weightlifter holding out two dumbells
[one in each hand -T- position] till the muscles SHAKE with the strain...

at a louder dynamic the air mass will be more and therefore the corner muscles work slightly less as the greater air pressure is enough to make the lips vibrate more easily...

1. what's the upper range like? [also a guide to aperture/jaw position]
2. How long have they played? [years]


I've two comments to this:-

I've had the very thing you describe happen. It was the strangest thing and I don't know what I was thinking about when it happened. I got the instrument out the case played a few notes (30seconds at most) got out a solo to play nothing hard slow melody type stuff. Played it though concentrating on tone and then went to play some exercises. My jaw was bobbing up and down terribly. I couldn't control it at all and I couldn't play.

I put the instrument back in the case and rested up for 2 days to ensure I would not learn a bad habit. Next time I picked the instrument up I took it easy with some long notes and put it back in the case. Then over the next week or so built my practice regime back to where it was. Looking back I really think it was me compensating a low pressure grip by sticking my jaw out to the mouthpiece to gain some mouthpiece pressure due to the inadequate warm up. Using my jaw in this way was way too much exercise for my main jaw muscles.

Second point
There was someone in my previous band who when they were very nervous, an exposed solo passage, they compensated for closing their embouchure apature and hence a weedy sound by using a poor jaw vibrato. Once the vib started it was there for the whole rehearsal or performance. A real nerves thing. Only thing I would suggest would be more exposure till they realise that nothing scary will happen. At worst a missed passage which will be forgotten.

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