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Weak upper lip



 
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Leonel Leon
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Joined: 11 Jan 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 4:26 pm    Post subject: Weak upper lip Reply with quote

So for some time now my I have had decreased range and endurance. I think it is due to a weak upper lip. When I get about a G above the staff my emborchure changes and goes from a 1 third top, 2 thirds bottom to a 1 fourth top, 3 fourths bottom. Is there a way to just strength my upper lip?
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long tones, gradually increasing duration and range, with frequent rests. And patience. Significant improvement may take months, certainly weeks.
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razeontherock
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 5:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Weak upper lip Reply with quote

Leonel Leon wrote:
So for some time now my I have had decreased range and endurance. I think it is due to a weak upper lip. When I get about a G above the staff my emborchure changes and goes from a 1 third top, 2 thirds bottom to a 1 fourth top, 3 fourths bottom. Is there a way to just strength my upper lip?


This does not describe a weak upper lip. Actually, that part of the body is trapped in between the mouthpiece rim and your upper teeth and therefore has no real muscular function.

What you're doing is an embouchure "shift," and those NEVER help! (Unless it's done on purpose, under control, and for a very special reason. NOT normal playing)

It's also very possible that what you are visually observing is not at all what's happening with your lips inside the mouthpiece. The real issue to address here is your performance, which is in your first sentence. How is it possible that your strength has decreased? I simply consider that not very likely, but obviously I am on this side of a computer screen and unaware of your variables. I think it would be much more fruitful to search for what you are DOING differently.

Generally speaking, when embouchure weakness is a factor, it's in the lower lip. (Or jaw, or tongue) Even then it is not usually a question of sheer strength, but of co-ordination between all the various playing factors, including relaxation.

Like most things, it is very likely that practicing very quietly but without compromising tone quality will help you; not that that is usually a complete fix, but often it is part of one. It's just really hard to play incorrectly and also produce a full sound at the bottom of your dynamic range. Trying will often prove to be self-corrective.

So - CLARKE!!!
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It might be worth trying to play your entire range on the placement you use for above G and see how things work.

Dave
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PhxHorn
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Jet-Tone mouthpiece should solve everything.
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Leonel Leon
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies. I have tried the whole tones. Right now I am seeing if playing higher on my upper lip will help. It kinda sucks as my emborchure is tired really quickly that way, so maybe I am targeting the spot that needs the most work that way.

When I try just playing with my normal lip placement it just stops and I can't play an A, or G#
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chuck in ny
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

leo

you are confusing a few things. start with the basics. try a high mouthpiece placement with the lower part of the piece on the middle of the lower lip. that's your set and you leave it there.
then do a bit of work, and stop and rest, have plenty of rest cycles in your playing if you are not already doing so.
there is of course more but those are the basics.
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PhxHorn
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seriously, if you want informed suggestions, post a video of you playing a scale from low G to G above the staff and back down. Then one going down and back up. Then playing arpeggios, both directions. Play all four examples without breathing during them (though you can breathe between, obvioulsy). You'll get better advice if people can see what's going on.
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Craig Swartz
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're certain the problem is your set up and not your breathing, correct? I'd double-check and make sure the wind/air pressure you think you are using is actually what you are using, especially if this problem is something that came on recently. Good luck.
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Wilktone
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Joined: 25 Aug 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Leonel.

I didn't have time to write a longer post when I offered some advice yesterday. In light of the wide range of advice you've gotten above (none of which is wrong, per se), I wanted to try to help you put your embouchure into a more complete context. This way you can make a more informed choice about what to spend your practice time on.

My short advice is still place the mouthpiece where you put it for the high range and learn to play your entire range there. It may take some weeks of practice before you start becoming comfortable enough to play that way always, but you'll probably be better off in the long term. If you want to understand why I feel this way, read on.

Quote:
When I get about a G above the staff my emborchure changes and goes from a 1 third top, 2 thirds bottom to a 1 fourth top, 3 fourths bottom.


Since I have not watched you play in person, you should take my advice with a grain of salt. That said, based on your description you have a "low placement" upstream embouchure type (here is a link that explains one way you can classify embouchure types). It's neither good nor bad, it's sort of like being left handed. It's less common than the downstream embouchure types, so you'll see fewer players around using it. It also is different from the other embouchure types and certain instructions you might get that work great for downstream players actually work against low placement players. I've taught many upstream players and happen to be one myself.

Your switch in mouthpiece placement at a certain point in your range is actually a pretty common upstream problem. Again, without watching you play I can't be certain if this applies to you or not, but almost every time I've seen this (and experienced it in my own playing at one time) the solution is not to try to keep your low register placement for the high register, it's to learn to play your entire range with the high register placement. And this placement has been without exception, for these players, a placement with more lower lip inside the mouthpiece (placement closer to the chin).

Something that helped me and many of my students with similar issues is to place the mouthpiece on your lips where it works best for the high range, play an open note in your high range, and slowly and softly slur down a partial and back up, then back down two partials and up, down three and up, etc. Accept a thinner sound for the moment, just learn what your chops need to do in order to descend with the high register setting. Avoid dropping your jaw as much as possible for this and don't worry if you can't get much lower than where you want to reset.

If you watch yourself in a mirror while doing this you might be able to notice that you're pushing your lips and mouthpiece together upward towards the nose as you descend. This is natural and proper for upstream players (the downstream embouchures can either do the same or reverse, depending on type). The track of this "embouchure motion" of up to descend and down to ascend can be close to straight up and down, or it can be angled, but it should probably be a straight line and consistently work in the same direction (i.e., up and slightly to the right to descend, down and slightly to the left to ascend). If you find yourself needing to reverse the direction of this you might be going too far with it.

Along with good breathing and proper tongue arch to change registers, finding the exact spot for your embouchure motion for each pitch is going to help you open up your sound and keep your mouthpiece placement consistent for your entire register. A good analogy is that your chops are, for now, like a muscle car. The engine sounds pretty rough when you're idling at the stop light, but once your up to highway speed it's very smooth. Once you can "tune up" your playing mechanics to adjust you're "engine" will work fine in all registers.

Again, all the above makes certain assumptions based only one what you've written here already, and I could be way off base. I also want to mention that much of what I wrote would be wrong for most other players, so for any folks who disagree, please put my advice in that context.

Dave
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You didn't mention anything about your sound and herein lies your problems.
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