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Embouchure Overuse



 
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LogsTrumpet
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:58 pm    Post subject: Embouchure Overuse Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I'm currently a graduate student at a music conservatory and I have recently experienced some issues with my playing. After a great deal of research, I believe I may be suffering from embouchure overuse syndrome. Most of what I'm experiencing is discomfort with embouchure setting, diminishing confidence in entrances, and reduced flexibility/range. Additionally, I've developed a nasty habit of pinching and rolling my lower lip inwards as I ascend, causing a thin tone in the upper register. Before last year, I had never encountered any of these issues to a detrimental degree. I have made some discoveries and improvements on my individual playing, but I'm still experiencing discomfort that is seriously hindering my ability to progress. Has anyone suffered from embouchure overuse? If so, do you have any exercises or tips to try and correct these issues I've been experiencing?

Thank you so much!
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:37 am    Post subject: Re: Embouchure Overuse Reply with quote

LogsTrumpet wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'm currently a graduate student at a music conservatory and I have recently experienced some issues with my playing. After a great deal of research, I believe I may be suffering from embouchure overuse syndrome. Most of what I'm experiencing is discomfort with embouchure setting, diminishing confidence in entrances, and reduced flexibility/range. Additionally, I've developed a nasty habit of pinching and rolling my lower lip inwards as I ascend, causing a thin tone in the upper register. Before last year, I had never encountered any of these issues to a detrimental degree. I have made some discoveries and improvements on my individual playing, but I'm still experiencing discomfort that is seriously hindering my ability to progress. Has anyone suffered from embouchure overuse? If so, do you have any exercises or tips to try and correct these issues I've been experiencing?

Thank you so much!


I contracted overuse syndrom shortly after I began practicing 1)too much 2)in a not correct way 3)the way I always had.
Meaning: In my case - the flaws of my embouchure finally "got me".
Too little air, too much pressure, creating the sound with my lips while not supporting the tone producation with air. Lacking focus (aperture kind of obtained by tightening the face instead of that focussed part under my nose, chin, corners of my mouth. Prior to that a rather successful career as an amateur. Probably made possible by the strength of youth.
Remedy? Read a lot, i.e Lucinda Lewis, taking lessons (never had before) - lacking air support biggest villain, closely followed by too much tension. Then I found the BE but that could be another story.
So - re evaluate your playing - surely you must have access to knowledgeable teachers?? You will have to diagnose what are the specific, personal flaws - then establish better routines.
Personally I try to focus on breathing, attacks à la tongue on lips, double pedals (Pop´s didgeridoo is one/another way),Roll Ins - helps me but again - this is personal!
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Wilktone
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry to hear about your issues. That's a very difficult situation to be in.

As far as I can tell, "Embouchure Overuse Syndrome" is a term that was coined by Lucinda Lewis (author of "Broken Embouchures") as a catch-all term for any issues that players can have with embouchure technique. One of my complaints is that it is too broad a definition and the implication of the term is the the issues are caused by playing too much.

While brass musicians can and do injure their embouchure through overplaying, generally speaking the cause of the injury or issue isn't the overplaying itself, but playing too long with a fundamental flaw in their embouchure technique to start with. It's like lifting heavy objects with your back. You can get away with it for a while, but overdo it and you're going to hurt yourself.

Lewis's program is specifically focused on helping the brass musician return to their pre-injury embouchure form. There is little to no effort to identify the mechanical flaw that led to the injury in the first place and make that correction. In other words, it is likely to lead you to getting better at playing wrong and leave you vulnerable to another breakdown.

There is no way that anyone here can help you identify your specific issues without seeing and hearing what your chops sound like. If you're willing to post video or send a private message, I'm always interested in looking closely at brass musician's chops. Sometimes I can spot something helpful that way, but I won't be able to make an educated guess without seeing your embouchure.

Personally, I would avoid anyone who does purport to be able to diagnose your embouchure problems and offer a solution without seeing and hearing you play. At best they are just guessing and at worst the advice might make things worse.

Dave
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From your description, it seems like you have made an embouchure change with the hope of increasing some aspects of your playing. Or you are 'forcing' your embouchure in new ways, and pushing beyond its limit.
I suggest you ask your teachers if there is someone who is good with 'embouchure mechanics' who you could talk with.

Be prepared for some frustration in getting answers. It can be very difficult to diagnose small embouchure troubles, and many people are reluctant to make suggestions.

What have you been taught (and what do you do) regarding balancing the amount of mouthpiece rim pressure between upper and lower lips?

Jay
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my limited experience, embouchure overuse more often then not happens not by some accident but because a player has succeeded in doing something that turns out to be unsustainable. And habits formed through hours of practice are really hard to break. The best chance of replacing those habits with better ones is with a sufficiently expert teacher who can identify any weakness in your approach and any excesses in you execution.

FWIW in the past when I've hit a wall and things stop working I usually take a little break and and go back to my fundamentals and start rebuilding slowly with very limited high and loud and no long and hard. You can't just power through telling yourself that somehow you'll get stronger.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 11:32 am    Post subject: Re: Embouchure Overuse Reply with quote

LogsTrumpet wrote:
Before last year, I had never encountered any of these issues to a detrimental degree. I have made some discoveries and improvements on my individual playing, but I'm still experiencing discomfort that is seriously hindering my ability to progress. Has anyone suffered from embouchure overuse? If so, do you have any exercises or tips to try and correct these issues I've been experiencing?

I think you need to sit back and reflect on the situation

Firstly, you are under the guidance of a paid teacher at college - what are THEY doing about this? Get them to do their job!

Secondly, overuse? You say you had these issues, but didn’t consider them to be too great. Guess what? By working really hard and leaving these issues in place, you have developed the, to the point they are now serious.

Third, you are looking for tips and exercises for ‘overuse’. You will need to re-examine your production of sound, and make your embouchure work properly, not just keep on working. One way is to change and grow, the other to cement in a path of well, destructive practice.

Be prepared for a long, slow period of work.

Cheers


Andy
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Vin DiBona
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once again, Andy has answered the question in the best manner. Especially the about the paid teacher.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:49 pm    Post subject: Muscle memory Reply with quote

Muscle memory. As Andy, Jay and others have stated, you need to fix these issues. If you don't it will only get worse. There is no quick magical fixes. Yes it will take time, but whatever is worthwhile hasn't. Playing a trumpet at a university is a huge difference from high school. There is likely many drastic changes in the present, near future and future. Listen to your instructors. Maybe you will have to throw most of your previous training away. Growth as a player and person is all about what college is!!!
Happy trials, (yes I mean trials not trails)
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trpt2
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may be controversial, but so be it.
Lucinda Lewis' "system ", has saved my career not once, but twice.
I realize one can say, " no matter what the problem is, it's an overuse problem ".
I've had 2 injuries in my career, both very different, yet both devastating .
The last one, I could have sworn it was dystonia, but it wasn't a neurological issue.
That brought me back to Lucinda.
She worked with me, and I will say ,BOTH TIMES,I came back playing better than ever.
Don't be fooled by the myth that if you take 6 months off, you'll come back fresh, and back to normal...it ain't going to happen.. you need to fix the set up Before you guit. In my opinion, guaranteed.
NONE of her exercises can possibly hurt you, and her "system " will only set you up with a
Great embouchure set up!
I Really believe in her approach! Has helped me immensely!
PS..feel free to disagree, but I have known More top notch players to see Lucinda, and come back the better for it. But no matter what your problem is, it will not mess you up!
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harryjamesworstnightmare
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up Lucinda Lewis' books and worked through some of her exercises and then gravitated to using Thompson's lip buzzing techniques (The Buzzing Book). Lewis' work helped me focus on identifying the problem and showed me how to work through it. The Thompson book put it all together and helped to gain control and focus of my embouchure in a more secure yet relaxed manner. Most of the issues I had are gone or very much under control. I am now much more aware of when I am overdoing it and need to rest. Playing has become far easier and more consistent. But, that does not mean it will work for everyone. In my case it worked for me.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:07 pm    Post subject: Harry james.. Reply with quote

I fully believe you. Lucinda`s method incorporates a lot of mouthpiece work, and it sets you up in a more "proper " embouchure position, almost automatically.
Jim's method certainly expands on that . As would Stamp.
My point, as a player coming back from an injury, simply needs to concentrate on Basic embouchure function, not to gain improvement or "chops" too fast.
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Contact me for help. If the advice involves mouthpiece work at first, then go in a different direction. My method uses the instrument. The mouthpiece is not the instrument. What I do works. It is based on reason, logic, science and common sense. I can help.

I understand what you are going through. I know how to overcome it.
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gstump
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught at the college level for 12 years. Both jazz studies and education students as well as a few performance majors. I agree with some of the posts regarding a flawed embouchure. That embouchure may have been what got you there but as you are surrounded by other gifted graduate students it will limit going to the next level.

Sometimes students will manipulate the lips to play higher. One of the impediments to "facing the music" with a weak or flawed embouchure is what I call the "Reputation Syndrome". Students are so worried about their "careers" they will not just let go and start to actually learn how to play the trumpet like they did in 5th grade!

Reality check: You have no reputation. You are a trumpet student and more or less no one outside of your school knows who you are. So use that opportunity to find a professional teacher specializing in correct playing. That means learning how to crawl, walk and then run.

This post sounds rather nasty. I taught privately for years. Many of my students were graduates of prestigious music schools with masters degrees. But when they hit the streets they could not get arrested. So I taught them how to go from one note to another note. Think about that!

Several actually attempted to sue the universities. The fact that you the OP are here asking for help is a great first step. Please find someone to teach you how to actually play the trumpet, not just play the music.

Best of luck.

Gordon Stump (I am a little grouchy today!)
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it is grumpy or disrespectful in the least.

And just to reinforcement from an extreme, when I was in university I hit a wall and it was caused by my embouchure. So i took a semester off from playing and then continued from the bottom. Good idea except for one hitch. In building back from scratch, my teacher still didn't identify my problems so the results were the same. So make sure that that the teacher is the right one.

The irony is that, after a break of four years (thank you very much Uncle Sam), I vividly remember my first day back in Concert Band turning to a colleague and saying, "You mean I felt inferior to that (meaning a lot of my colleagues). FWIW
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I started at Berklee I was taking lessons, practicing heavily,playing in eight ensembles (they were short of trumpet players at the time so I was being asked to play in a lot of ensembles.), and whatever outside bands and jam sessions I was doing.
At the end of the first week, I could hardly produce a sound on the horn. I had a lesson (with Jeff Stout - great teacher) and told him what was happening. He asked me how much I was playing the horn and I told him. He said that he often had students who started school and immediately were doing exponentially more playing everyday than they were used to and experienced exactly what I described. His advice was:

- rest as much as possible, especially DURING practice or playing sessions
- plenty of water
- proper warmup (and warm down)
- give it time

I followed his advice and within a week or so everything seemed to be back to normal. And believe me, I was playing the horn A LOT! So I'd offer the same advice. I'd also add, that you've already noticed your body trying to resort to some bad habits to compensate for the fatigue. Be vigilant about these fine points and don't let them become habits......

keith
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Mike Sailors
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 3:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Embouchure Overuse Reply with quote

LogsTrumpet wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'm currently a graduate student at a music conservatory and I have recently experienced some issues with my playing. After a great deal of research, I believe I may be suffering from embouchure overuse syndrome. Most of what I'm experiencing is discomfort with embouchure setting, diminishing confidence in entrances, and reduced flexibility/range. Additionally, I've developed a nasty habit of pinching and rolling my lower lip inwards as I ascend, causing a thin tone in the upper register. Before last year, I had never encountered any of these issues to a detrimental degree. I have made some discoveries and improvements on my individual playing, but I'm still experiencing discomfort that is seriously hindering my ability to progress. Has anyone suffered from embouchure overuse? If so, do you have any exercises or tips to try and correct these issues I've been experiencing?

Thank you so much!


I went through exactly the thing you are experiencing. Send me a PM - I can give you some tips.
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peanuts56
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some interesting things regarding Lucinda Lewis. The need to fix what's wrong in the first place is the first step.
A little off topic but a very fine drummer I know began having a problem with his bass drum foot. He's played with several name people and has recorded with a few as well. He plays out a lot. His foot would literally stop working. He went to doctor's, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. No one could find out what was going on. At one point a doctor thought he might have MS.
Somehow he met someone who had been through something similar. He developed a few bad habits and was using the foot the wrong way as he would tire. Basically he said it was like blowing a fuse. His body's electrical system would shut down to prevent damage. He had to go back to basics and spend time relearning how to use the foot correctly. Eventually the problem became a thing of the past.
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to say something that may be a little harsh.

You cannot begin to fix what is wrong until you understand what is really wrong.

Self diagnosis is close to self harm.

We dont usually go to a doctor and tell him what is wrong with us and then expect him to tell us how to fix the problem we have diagnosed.

Find a doctor who can diagnose what is wrong.

Let the doctor then decide what treatment is going to work.

You say "I believe I may be suffering from embouchure overuse syndrome" belief is not a diagnosis it is clutching at straws.

Get a diagnosis of your problem from a competent teacher. Once you have that it may be possible to do something about it.

Fixing what is not wrong, is unfixing what is right.
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