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 Post subject: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:01 pm
Posts: 5
Hi - any helpful hints as to how I can distribute pressure better between top and bottom lips?

Like many people, I have a slight overbite, but whenever I play I see and feel a semicircular mouthpiece-shaped ridge in my top lip.
I'm trying everything to make my bottom lip do more work - including push my bottom jaw forward a little - but I just can't seem to play anything without too much top lip pressure.
My endurance is pretty poor as a result.
Think I need some help identifying specifically which lower lip muscles I should be using too...

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:32 pm
Posts: 195
Embouchure diagnostics really needs in-person observation from a knowledgable player, but here are some immediate thoughts:
With your jaw slightly forward, are your upper and lower teeth aligned?
As well as thinking about the forward position of your jaw, is the jaw opening correct?
Are your chin muscles working to correctly support your embouchure?

This is a great article which highlights a lot of common embouchure problems:
http://wendellworld.com/html/Embouchure.pdf

The equivalent passages in the books by Downing, Farkas and Schuller are all very good as well.
There are some differences in the advice, so it's worth reading them all to gain a balanced view and then carrying out playing experiments whilst using a mirror to find what works for you.

Just to reiterate, it's also worth getting in-person advice from other players and/or a teacher...


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 Post subject: Re: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:32 pm
Posts: 195
Another thought:
Is the vertical placement correct?
The top of the mouthpiece rim should extend beyond the upper lip, so it shouldn't be possible to form a semicircle within the top lip?!


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 Post subject: Re: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:01 pm
Posts: 5
Thank you for the helpful thoughts and article.

I can align my teeth with my jaw forward. Can you explain what you mean about the jaw opening correctly..?
My chin is certainly not 'bunched up' but neither does it seem to particularly be doing much work. Maybe something to think about.

Vertically I'm using 2/3 upper and 1/3 lower so the top of the semicircle is above the top lip.
Image
You might be able to make out the 2 grooves on the top lip corresponding to 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock on the mouthpiece.


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 Post subject: Re: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:32 pm
Posts: 195
Some more assorted thoughts...

By jaw opening, I mean that most articles/books recommend having a small gap between the teeth. The typical recommended gap is in the range 5 to 8 mm for general playing (increasing as the jaw is dropped for low notes).

A nice trick for learning about chin muscles:
Away from the horn, form your normal embouchure (without buzzing).
Use your hand to pull your chin downwards and slightly forwards whilst trying to maintain the normal embouchure shape.
Feel how the chin muscles firm up to support the embouchure.
When the chin muscles support the embouchure whilst playing, this can create a similar feeling - something to be aware of.

Re the 3'o'clock and 9'o'clock grooves, are the outer (left and right) parts of your upper lip coming around the mouthpiece rim at all? This may indicate:
- a need for firmer mouth corners, to keep the lips wide enough when playing.
- a need to bring the central parts of the lips forward into the mouthpiece; try saying "rue" as you shape the embouchure.
- a need to reduce pressure generally; it takes time (at least several months) to build up the strength to play high notes with less pressure, lots of lip slurs etc.
- some combination of all of the above...

Another thing to check is the angle of the leadpipe. Some players have the leadpipe slanted quite downwards, whereas a slightly more horizontal position can help involve both upper and lower lips more equally.

Another way to get the lower lip more involved is to think about its role in forming the embouchure grip - the books explain this better...

Other questions:
What mouthpiece rim width do you use, would a wider rim help with forming a flatter embouchure?
Is your embouchure inset or onset? There are a lot of mixed views about this, but a good "modern embouchure" generally seems to be considered to be a hybrid, more onset in the high register and becoming slightly inset as the jaw is dropped for the low register.

As you can see there is lots to think about simultaneously - the above is by means a complete list. Whilst the standard ideas from the books + a mirror can be helpful, embouchures can be both subtle and very individual, so I'll repeat my earlier comment that it's safest to work these things out with the help of another player or teacher in person...


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 Post subject: Re: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:01 pm
Posts: 5
Thanks that's all really helpful!


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 Post subject: Re: Bottom lip strength
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:44 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:47 am
Posts: 73
This looks like you are using too much pressure overall. Grooves in the top lip (which also looks swollen) and a bottom lip that looks more red than appropriate and a bit swollen. It could be the case that you are going into the upper register tightening by lip corners and using pressure, but not properly using the muscles that control the center of the lips to make a smaller aperture. If the lips are swollen, the best course would be to use some ice and rest to bring the swelling down. Good jaw position, a slightly more downward angle to get some pressure off the top lip, and the use of an anti-pressure trainer to work to the point where you can navigate the high register without extreme pressure might be in order. As indicated by others, a capable teacher if you are not yet seeing one could be the best remedy.


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