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6 Weeks to Heal



 
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jetjaguar
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:15 pm    Post subject: 6 Weeks to Heal Reply with quote

I have 6 weeks to heal.

TLDR; What’s the best 6-week course of action for partially damaged lips through overuse, that don’t require surgery?

For my problems, I’ve seen too much of “we get tired”, “we get lazy”, “no amount of long tones will help. You need a firm chin”. “Just resist the double buzz”, “don’t think about it”.

The explanation that makes sense to me is that I have done damage to the tissues of my embouchure. I strongly believe I have the following problem, quoted from the article “Lip Injuries & Trumpet Playing: An Unhappy Marriage”, Published 11/21/2009 By Bill Milkowski in jazztimes.com:
Quote:

a large percentage of lip injuries are directly related to playing the instrument. Compressing flesh and muscle against metal for hours at a time can be a recipe for disaster. Tissue damage can occur if the mouthpiece is forced against the lips too hard or if one plays too long or with too much pressure without rest…

…“What happens is that by attempting to play very strenuously-either too long or too high-without the proper musculature being engaged, it causes a thinning out of the lip,” explains trumpeter Brad Goode, a patient of Dr. McGrail’s. “When you continue stretching the lip muscle rather than contracting it when attempting to play high, then the lip muscle itself-which is a big oval-shaped muscle which encompasses both the top and the bottom lip-can herniate. And this leaves people unable to create a seal for air going into the mouthpiece, unable to control their sound, unable to hit the right notes.”


I’m making the following assumptions:

1. The condition described in the excerpt above is a real phenomenon.
2. I have the condition described.
3. The description in the article sufficiently describes my problem to the degree that I can receive assistance in this forum.
4. The above condition is common enough, and so are human lips and trumpets, that a simple course of therapy can be prescribed in this web forum. This forum has more reach than my ability to find and sit down with a local teacher who is an adequate chop doc. (Enough of the Vancouver trumpet teachers appear to be young, also teach guitar, etc, that I am persuaded of this).

If you reject one or more of those assumptions, then I am not looking for your assistance. I need to decide on a course of action. If you really need to sound off on how wrong-headed I’m being, then start a separate thread. I promise I’ll visit it.

So how to heal in 6 weeks, well enough to play an Easter gig that has a lot of A’s just above the staff?

Although I maintain that the wording in the article is sufficient for diagnosis and prescriptive therapy, I’ll provide symptoms:

1. Double buzz in the staff, up to top line.
2. Difficulty sealing on highest notes
3. Difficulty dropping from a high note to a low note quickly, like eighth notes above the staff: A-A-F-A. The F has trouble sounding. It’s like my lips can’t adjust down fast enough and the F splats or doesn’t sound.
4. My actual range hasn’t diminished. Strength and endurance have. Most likely due to abusing my chops with poor playing and practicing habits.

I don’t need to play now. I can lay off for 2 or 3 weeks, if it will help.

So, laying off for x days?
Caruso 6 notes for x days? Pedal tones? McGrail's Facial exercises?
I’m looking for a plan to get in shape in 6 weeks. Thanks!
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windandsong
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a common and very easy mistake when returning after an injury and or an associated break is that you will be the same player or quickly become the same you were within a relatively short period of time. This simply does not happen. You have to rehabilitate and it takes time. I'm not sure setting yourself time based goals is a good idea at all.

Of course I don't know about the real detail of what you have done but all I can say as someone who has experienced a relatively serious injury and spoken to others that have is that you must be very patient and treat yourself as if you are coming back from scratch. There will be setbacks.

There are some good players on here who have been through the mill with this type of thing and I wish you all the success in the future.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You need to go find a GOOD teacher, as your premise that this issue, being possibly common, means there is a common solution. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It sounds like you tracked down teachers from some sort of high school hang out website, which will be a waste of time and money. Go find Larry Knopf (if he still lives there), or Marty Berimbaum (if HE still lives there) or one of the guys who were paying in the Vancouver Opera 20 years ago (both terrific players). Or members of the Vancouver SO, if it still exists...

If there is no one local, get some skype lessons. The main thing to know is, this is not a universal condition created by one set of circumstances. There are many many reasons this could happen and you must have someone with knowledge to give you assistance.

cheers

Andy
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Trptca
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s tension, I promise it’s a tension problem. Perhaps wrongly applied tension. Focus on trying to play with the least muscle engagement required. And find ways to focus on faster and focused air instead of more air. Large amounts of repeated air attacks followed by double tonging will help focus muscle refinement.
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jetjaguar
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Trptca.

I believe I have done some (hopefully) reparable damage to my chops.
My current plan is, I'm going to lay off for 3-3.5 weeks, and then I have 2.5 weeks to get the Easter rep into shape. It's that 2.5 weeks that I'm wanting to determine. I may start off with nothing but low C's for the first few days, then Caruso 6 notes, then the exercise routine given to me by my late teacher, which I had been neglecting. The Easter rep is not that hard, I just need some basic chops.

My struggle has been determining if it's tissue damage, or some other mystery. I've decided to discount the mystery, and treat it as tissue damage. It is also worth noting that a teacher cannot make any money telling you just to not play for a while. Maybe that's why you don't hear that advice much.

This week I'll be speaking with an accomplished player and educator I trust. He may well recommend something different.
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Trptca
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to run contrary to everything people say. But I wouldn’t take anywhere near that amount of time off. Maybe 2-3 days max. If you don’t correct the production habits that caused problems in the first place you’ll just hurt yourself again, and quickly. You’re better off to modify your diet to help muscle recovery and make sure you’re sleeping enough. And then try to isolate what went wrong that caused the issues. Balanced and healthy tone production shouldn’t cause damage.
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wilcox96
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To quote a famous US President, "I feel your pain". Meaning, I have gone through what you are going through. You describe things very well. I recognized what you stated, instantly.

I think the notion of putting the horn down for 3 weeks is a wise one. That still gives you 3 weeks of gentle practice before Easter. That's plenty of time...assuming things will heal up. Lip muscle damage is not any different (per se) than any muscle damage elsewhere on the body...with the exception being that we, as trumpet players, are certainly using our lip muscles for a purpose unintended. HA! You need those muscles to heal. Yeah...everyone can get into the causes to what got you to this point. You want to be able to deal in the "now"... and can analyze those things later. Perhaps your recovery will unearth the very things needed to keep this at bay in the future.

Take some ibuprofen (if you are medically able to do so). Some kind of anti inflammatory, so your muscles can heal. Rotate ice (cool drinks.) with warm from time to time. Put some lotion or A&D on your lips (once or twice a day..not crazy), to aid in healing. So... what to do during those 3+ weeks off. Here's some ideas: Walk or jog to keep your wind up. If you can sing...how about singing some songs or even singing some trumpet literature? That will keep you focused on phrasing and...(notice a recurring theme?)...your wind control. Sing passages that stretch your phrasing a bit, so you are really concentrating on making beautiful, musical phrases. Enjoy yourself. Listen to beautiful and fun music.

After about 2 weeks, try adding this to your day. At various times of the day, take a mouthpiece in your hand. Sit relaxed. Relax your face, as if you were just staring at nothing...or the TV...or nature. ha. whatever. Then, bring the mouthpiece up, not to your lips....but to your Chin. Nose. Cheek. Just relax and bring the mouthpiece up and rest it on one of these places for a couple of seconds...and set the mpc back down. Wait a bit and do it again. Relax...set it back down. Do this for a minute or so and just put the mpc down. Do that routine a few times a day. This gets you relaxed when you put the mpc towards your face...and not tense. Trust me. As silly as this may sound...it does help. You've been hurting when you play (well, at least..it's caused pain). It took you a while to engrain that and your body now knows it. You have to retrain yourself to be relaxed again. After you get used to this, move the mpc to your lips. Don't set an embouchure. Just keep your lips together...relaxed...no movement or change when the mpc reaches your lips. You are retraining that, when the mpc comes to your lips...it's no big deal. You don't have to be afraid of it. Just relax. It's easy.

After the 3+ weeks, use the same routine as described above when placing the mouthpiece on your nose, chin...whatever. Except this time, place the mpc (in the trumpet) to your lips. Do this as described above. Don't make an embouchure. Do this as part of your "warm up". Then, softly breath attack blowing THROUGH the end of the instrument (I didn't say loud...I said through. Think of a spot on the music stand or wall in front of you...and easily blow your lips apart to make a buzz/note).

From there each day... add in more fundamentals exercises. Vary the volume, but don't go extremely loud for a while. Rest as much as you play. If you can play several times throughout the day (vs trying to cram everything you know into an hour)...ha...do that. No matter the volume, make sure to blow through the instrument. Allen Vizzutti says he thinks of phrases or even technical studies as one, long note. Pretty good advice. The key here is to get the sound and focus away from your lips and out where it belongs...let the bell ring...and the music flow into the space in front of you.

I think we can just forget the basic fundamentals from time to time. This can be especially true if we play loudly all the time. Perhaps the gigs we play for a bit are all loud. Then...all of a sudden, we have to play something soft. Playing loud is easy! We can blow right on through the horn. Soft? hmmm. Might forget to breathe as well...and all that blowing through gets forgotten...and the sound is stuck at the lips. We are still making a sound...so...what's the problem (we think). Meanwhile, it's slowly taking it's toll on our lip muscles.

Doesn't seem like you are too worried about the material you'll play at Easter. I'm sure you will be just fine. Perhaps you'll have some time after Easter to further reflect and then continue to rebuild/work on your playing. I wish you the best of success and look forward to hearing about your progress.
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Last edited by wilcox96 on Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stop looking for answers here and find someone who really knows, such as:

http://www.bbtrumpet.com/home-page/
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trptca wrote:
This is going to run contrary to everything people say. But I wouldn’t take anywhere near that amount of time off. Maybe 2-3 days max. If you don’t correct the production habits that caused problems in the first place you’ll just hurt yourself again, and quickly. You’re better off to modify your diet to help muscle recovery and make sure you’re sleeping enough. And then try to isolate what went wrong that caused the issues. Balanced and healthy tone production shouldn’t cause damage.


Different things will work for different people, but I would (take 2-3 weeks off), did (when this happened to me), and it did (help. A LOT).

YMMV

Brad
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:53 am    Post subject: Re: 6 Weeks to Heal Reply with quote

[quote="jetjaguar"]I have 6 weeks to heal.

TLDR; What’s the best 6-week course of action for partially damaged lips through overuse, that don’t require surgery?

Your description echoes my own experience. What helped me - in the very short run was the guidance I got from Lucinda Lewis ( http://www.embouchures.com/ ). Overuse syndrom.
In the longer run taking lessons, rehabilitating myself by the use of the BE method was very beneficial. Worked for me. May not work for you.
But visit the site - you may get in contact with her. Worked for me, but....
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mrhappy
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:17 am    Post subject: Re: 6 Weeks to Heal Reply with quote

Seymor B Fudd wrote:
in the very short run was the guidance I got from Lucinda Lewis ( http://www.embouchures.com/ ).


That site looks interesting... I'm gonna poke around there when I get some time.
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jetjaguar
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even Bud Herseth laid off for 2 weeks

https://www.trumpetherald.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1561163#1561163

I love the smell of vindication in the morning.
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without seeing you it is hard to really know what you are doing. But the embouchure problem you describe reminds me of being in beginning band in 1963. We were taught the smile embouchure and flat chin. This causes the lips to be pulled thin over the teeth. If you look at the beginning of the Claude Gordon book he talks about the lips pushing toward the mouthpiece in a circular pattern. To me that means pushing your embouchure together toward the center. Not spreading it out.

I have had many problems as a trumpet player. I am not a great player. Maybe barely a good player. But I am improving. Especially in range and endurance. This is a result of a lot of reading a lot of embouchure pedagogy stuff and trying what I thought made sense. It started with Rusty Russell'l 19/30s. It is all about relaxing while you play. If you can't find it online send me your email address and I'll send you a .pdf of it.

A friend, John Krone told me he improved drastically by unfurling. That isn't what he called it but his description matches. This has not increased my range much yet, but it has REALLY helped my endurance. By focusing the chops toward the mp instead of away I have a bigger cushion under the mp

Anyway, I worked this for a while and found my range and endurance increasing. Recently I've been reading some of the Balanced Embouchure and will be employing those ideas into my routine.

Also there is information from Nick Drozdoff about the Maynard Protocol told on a video by Lyn Nicholson. It talks about unfurling your embouchure. I believe they mean letting your lips roll out in the high range. There is other information about roll-in, roll-out. I am just beginning working on these ideas.

Basically this is a whole lot of verbage that is basically about pushing your embouchure toward the mouthpiece and relaxing the other facial muscles.

Do not take my word for this stuff. I am just a trumpet hack. The information is available. Read it for yourself and see what you think. You can try it immediately but DON'T WORK YOUR CHOPS TOO HARD. Take it easy, play in the low to middle easy range. If you want access to any of this info and can't find it let me know.

Good luck, brother!
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jetjaguar
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to thank all of you for your help. A lot of good information there, and some of you spent a good deal of time composing those posts. I do appreciate it. Tomorrow I'm speaking with a gracious university educator and pro player about this. I'll post back here this weekend.

Thanks again,

Peter
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard III wrote:
Stop looking for answers here and find someone who really knows, such as:

http://www.bbtrumpet.com/home-page/


No disrespect intended towards you or your suggestion, but I don’t see a problem with the OP also asking for suggestions and opinions here.

Brad
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jetjaguar
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK I talked to my trusted academic and performer today. I explained things to him, he asked questions, and then dispensed the opinion that it is probably an unintentional and unperceived change in my embouchure. He also mentioned that even if I have been pushing too hard against flattened lips doesn't mean good pressure isn't needed. It's just that the good pressure needs to be applied to a sturdy embouchure, or firmed lips. I can't remember the exact term he used.

But he doesn't think I have tissue damaged. So what others have said, not directly to me, about "we get tired", "we get lazy", you need a firm chin, jaw, lower lip, and to avoid the buzz mentally, is in keeping with what I was told today.

Also, I asked him about taking time off, and he said it probably wasn't necessary.

He also said to find a good teacher who can instruct about chops issues.
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whenever there are response problems the first thing to study is the positioning of the lower lip. Trumpet players tend to be focused on the upper lip as the source of problems because the upper lip does the vibrating. However, in a manner of speaking, the upper lip just does what the lower lip tells it to do.

The objective is for the lower lip to tell the upper lip what to do at the right times while staying out of the way. An enormous number of problems are the result of the lower lip getting in the way and/or just not being in the right place at the right time.

The problems you're describing are among the symptoms of misplacement of the lower lip. The double buzz, especially, is a lower lip issue (the second buzz is coming from the lower lip). In my experience double buzz problems are typically the result of insufficient strength to keep the lower lip in the position necessary to prevent the double buzz. With the double buzz typically comes a whole set of related problems similar to those on your list.

Tissue damage is typically accompanied by pain, swelling, tenderness, etc. If you don't have those symptoms then this is not likely to be a tissue damage issue. However, if it is you have to lay off for awhile to promote healing. The amount of time to lay off depends on the severity of the injury and your personal rate of healing. Once you're back on the horn, however, something has to change or you'll probably just damage the tissue again by the same process which created the original damage.

If I were having the issues you describe I would be taking a good look at what's happening with my lower lip and I would try to figure out why it's happening. Most problems are strength related, there is insufficient strength to hold the lower lip in the correct position to prevent the problems. If that's the case, I would be focusing on strength building exercises such as the pencil exercise. If your lower lip is weak the pencil exercise really exposes this problem. How long can you hold the pencil?
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JUST my opinion: maybe taking time off is not necessary, but (again, this is just me), why not take some time to let things heal/settle? Any time I have needed to take limited time away from the horn, I came back rested and fresher. I fully realize that this flies in the face of practice every day NO MATTER WHAT, but it has worked for me.

Just my two cents.

Brad
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