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Question about teeth separation



 
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Bob Cross
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Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Location: Sacramento

PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope Jeff will see this, but I welcome any input. I spoke to Bruce Lee (great guy) who pointed out what appears to be a problem in my approach.

One remark in the book is that tongueing off the lip helps keep the proper separation between the upper and lower teeth. I could not tongue the lips because I have an overbite and developed the habit of keeping my teeth together when I play - even overlapping them as I got above the staff. My tongue could not get through.

It seems from what Jeff is saying that I need to separate my teeth at least enough for my tongue to get through. I am assuming that the same gap should exist for the lip clamp. From the picture and description in the book, I got the idea that EVERYTHING went towards the MP, including my teeth. That must be wrong.

Right now I am working on opening the jaw/teeth, but having some problem with opening my aperture as I open the gap between my teeth. When I can open the teeth and keep the aperture closed - well, the first time a double C has ever come out of my horn. It is also pleasant to not have my jaw so clenched. But it feels foreign and I have little control now.

Am I correct that keeping the teeth open is an important part of the system and control will come with practice? It feels really weird, since I used to clench my teeth together as I ascended as one means of increasing resistance. Am I correct that this applies to the lip clamp as well as the other exercises? How do I know when the teeth have the proper separation (my tongue doesn't get bit retracting? [joke])?

BTW, although I have lots of good books and am taking regular instruction for two years. Nothing has improved my playing like the BE book. Thanks, Jeff.

Bob Cross
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mcamilleri
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Joined: 25 Oct 2001
Posts: 2076
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also have an overbite, and my lips naturally meet over the top teeth. It is very important to use an open jaw, especially with an overbite, as you can then get the correct separation, and also move the lower jaw to more evenly match the top teeth, which then interacts with the horn angle and the distribution of mouthpiece pressure between top and bottom lip.

The ideal separation varies from player to player, and you will just have to experiment and be patient until you find what works for you. Tonguing on lips will naturally force you to open the jaw - keeping the rolled-in position going while you do this is very important.

If you are not making progress with this after a few weeks of good practice, email me for a 'bag of tricks' exercise that should help in your particular situation.

Michael
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Jerry Freedman
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Joined: 29 Jan 2002
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Location: Burlington, Massachusetts

PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I first started with my teacher who is a Callet disciple I was given a 1/4 piece of cork to put between my back teeth. My teacher had a student who was an engineer who made similar devices but out of plastic with wings on them like dental Xray film. I swallowed on of the cork thingies. I played with the spacer for about 6 months...worked great

J. Freedman
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trumpetteacher1
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Joined: 11 Nov 2001
Posts: 2964
Location: Garland, Texas

PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob,

You sound like one of those guys who has fallen in the habit of using the teeth to reinforce a weak lip position. This stops the lips from developing their full potential strength.

The solution you are currently pursuing will feel very strange in the beginning, but will eventually allow the lips to pull their fair share of the weight.

Exactly how far your teeth are apart, is not worth pursuing. Just do the tonguing exercise, and spacing will develop automatically. Start on the low C and go from there. As you ascend, your teeth may tend to close. Keep it from happening by spitting even stronger (you may get pretty loud and raspy - good!) After a while, the lips will get the idea, and the teeth will give up.

Bob, you said, "Am I correct that keeping the teeth open is an important part of the system and control will come with practice?"

Yes. But I purposefully focus on the sensation of tonguing on the lips, rather than at all thinking about the teeth.

You also said, "Am I correct that this applies to the lip clamp as well as the other exercises?"

Are you some kind of engineer?

Finally, you opened by saying, "I spoke to Bruce Lee (great guy) who pointed out what appears to be a problem in my approach."

They don't make 'em much nicer than Bruce. Bob, you're a pretty nice guy yourself. Thanks for the comments!

Jeff
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_Don Herman
'Chicago School' Forum Moderator


Joined: 11 Nov 2001
Posts: 3344
Location: Monument, CO, USA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Are you some kind of engineer? "

Hey! I resemble that remark!!!

ANYway, just to reinforce Jeff's words, and those of the other posters, though (disclaimer) perhaps not from a purely BE perspective, here's a few thoughts (all ad-hoc):

1. Having your teeth together while playing is frowned upon my many approaches.
2. It can stifle the airflow, and create turbulence near the lip/mpc interface, likely unwelcome.
3. It makes it WAY too easy to resort to pressure rather than using air.
4. It makes it harder to form a good lip cushion.
5. It can cause tension where it's not really needed, which can be felt and heard.

Now, I like what Jeff said -- use BE to fix the problem without dwelling on it!

My 0.00000000000000001 cent - Don
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"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music." - Aldous Huxley
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HJ
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Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Posts: 387
Location: The Netherlands

PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2004 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bob,

Years ago, I had the same problem. My front teeth were touching each other while playing. Somebody (NOT my trumpet professor at the conservatory...!) mentioned it, or rather asked me if my front teeth were closed, and this was the first time I ever noticed it. I had played this way for almost three years, from the moment I had to put my mpc a bit higher on my lip. I tried with pieces of wood and gum and this did not work at all. At last (I could hardly play anything anymore at that time) I asked for a different teacher and he had a very simple, but for me the ultimate, solution. I know it is a 'bag of tricks' thing, but for me this made the difference between giving up or becoming a pro. So, here it is: play an easy note, like G or C in the staff. Now blow up your cheeks, Dizzy-style. Keep blowing and bring your cheeks back in. Notice what your jaw HAS to do. When you feel it work try it on different notes. Go higher and lower. For me this opened up the jaw quite a bit and after a few days (not weeks) I had no problem whatsoever with playing with my teeth apart. What bothered me at that time was that I did not get rid of the small air pockets in my cheeks, but I was on track again. So, being the bag of tricks that it is, it has one thing in common with Jeffs teachings, air pockets can be a means to an end, or can force a big improvement. I now know that blowing up my cheeks has yet another benefit: it unlocks the corners, or it teaches you how it feels. 'Cause that's the thing the teacher who taught me to blow up my cheeks, left out. He also taught me to tighten the corners instead of unlocking them, and this took me another fifteen years to discover via Jeffs book. Hmm...

Maybe this helps,

Bert

BTW doing Jeffs exercises will certainly get your teeth apart. I had a student that was struggling with the roll-in, and she told me that she clenched her teeth, because that is what it looked like on the picture in the book, and that is what it looked like when I gave an example. I just said that this was not at all what should be happening and from that moment on she opened the jaw. Because that is pretty easy once you notice it yourself. I just checked it by doing a few roll-ins. You can actually open and close your jaw when doing the roll-in. It should be open, but it can be done in a closed position also. So, in a way this is the same as the exercise I described above, it kind of unlocks the jaw AND the corners. You don't have to give this a lot of attention, just make sure you open your jaw. It's easy this way.
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