embouchure injury

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by teacherchops, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. teacherchops

    teacherchops New Friend

    Jul 15, 2007
    Charlottetown, P.E.I.
    Hi Folks,
    I sufferred a trauma to my lower lip several weeks ago and cannot hold my embouchure together. My 4 year old son head butted me in the mouth while we were playing. (my wife said we shouldn't have been rough housing!) Anyway it has been three weeks and when I play the left side of my embouchure is buzzing outside of the mouthpiece. It is more evident when tonguing.I can't control my lower lip. I'm a fairly good player (M.Mus from a reputable university) and have never had any problems with my embouchure. I currently teach trumpet at a small university and also at a high school. I'm beginning to get worried that this may be a permanent problem. I can't really take too much time off from the horn due to playing committments. Any thoughts out there?
  2. tatakata

    tatakata Mezzo Forte User

    May 29, 2007
  3. Miyot

    Miyot Pianissimo User

    Jul 22, 2007
    I waited to see if you got any good comments. I'am not sure about lip injuries, I have never had a serious one. Lets hope it is not a long term problem. I do know many injuries require much longer than 3 weeks to really heal. And you are still playing. This is bound to slow things down. I hope a few more weeks really makes a difference. Good Luck.
  4. Khora

    Khora Piano User

    Sep 17, 2006
    New York
    Can you be a little more specific about the injury? Did you split your lip, or is it just bruised? Did he hit you dead on in the center, or off to the side?

    Several years ago I got hit in the jaw, and bit through the inner part of my lower lip about 1/2 inch to the right of center - very close to where my rim sat. 6 days before a major quartet concert, which I couldn't sub out! I had 3 stitches on the inside of my lip, and a lot of swelling for a couple of days.

    At first I just did a lot of free buzzing - no mouthpiece, no horn- just to keep things moving and limber. I could do maybe 15 secs at a time, but as long as I rested 45 secs, I could keep it up for quite a while. After a couple of days, I could play on the horn, although I did have to adjust around the stitches. It wasn't really much fun, but I did build up to being able to play for several minutes at a time. Enough to get through each piece on the program, as long as I could then rest for a minute or so before the next piece.

    Fortunately, I was also MCing our performance, so I could take as long as I needed to rest to talk with the audience. I did tell them what had happened, so they didn't mind the breaks.

    I still have some scar tissue, but it isn't really a problem. I've probably made some adjustments over the years, but that is what life is about - being able to adapt to new circumstances.

    Since you have gigs to do, the best way to practice is to do a lot of mental work, and keep off your lip as much as possible. (I think the free-buzzing actually help increase the circulation so my lip healed a little more quickly, but that is only my gut feeling - no flames please! ) Practice slowly and very carefully. Pay a lot of attention to your breathing. There is very likely some sub-conscious panic reaction going on, so you are probably a lot more tense because of the injury than you think, and that makes it much more difficult to play the way you usually would. Focus on your sound, not how your lip feels.

    If you have to adjust around the injury, do it, and do a lot of easy Clarke studies, long tones and mid-range playing to develop that embouchure. I really hope it is just bruising. Ice can help, time helps more, patience helps the most.

    Best of luck-
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Thank you Khora!
    Have you checked out yourself in a mirror;smiling, frowning and making all those human kinds of expressions? Do they look the same as before? If not, then maybe panic a little, and see if you can infect your doctor as well with your panic. There might be some serious (deadly serious to us!)nerve damage. It things look ok but still feel weird, then maybe (maybe) time will fix the problem.
    Please remember that we guys tend to be mule-headed-macho when it comes to medical issues, and it really might be ok to scream bloody murder and make rude and insistent demands on medical professionals. They get paid for that kind of stuff, and your chops are worth it!
    Be blessed!
  6. teacherchops

    teacherchops New Friend

    Jul 15, 2007
    Charlottetown, P.E.I.
    Thanks for all of the input.
    My lip was cut and bruised and it was off to the left side. As for normal sensations they remain the same as prior to the injury. What is happening is that on the left side of my embouchure my lower lip is rolling out and I am having air leak out which is creating a buzzing outside of the mouthpiece. This was not happening prior to the injury. I'm really hoping that it is just a matter of time...I'm playing the Messiah today, thankfully, the 2nd trumpet part, hopefully this won't be too much of a problem.
    thanks again to all who responded.
  7. Khora

    Khora Piano User

    Sep 17, 2006
    New York
    You still have some bruising in the lip, which is sub-consciously causing you to avoid using that part of your lip as strongly as you did before, hence the roll-out and leak. Generally the audience really isn't going to hear it, unless they are sitting within 3 feet of you on your left side.

    The bruising takes at least 3 weeks to go away, and longer if you have to play on it. Play softly and gently when you practice. Try to consciously keep your lip the way you used to - but if it hurts, stop. (It might be uncomfortable, but that isn't necessarily the same as painful.)

    Take time off after Christmas. Relax. You'll be fine. After a couple of weeks rest is the perfect time to really reset your chops the way you want them - it just takes a lot of concentration!

  8. hubnub

    hubnub Piano User

    May 4, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I had something siumilar happen to my upper lip a few years back. I could hear air leaking out of the upper right side of my emboucher. I did a bunch of long tones and soft playing and if I ever feel like things are going south, i'll spend the most of my time doing that.

    It's a drag and very scary, but it can be overcome. Just be smart about how you practice/play over the next few months..... you might need to turn down the lead trumpet chair for LCJO in the process though.:D
  9. confuoco

    confuoco Pianissimo User

    Nov 11, 2007
    How is it going teacher chops. I find there is a fine line between taking to much time off and playing a bit "on the injury" If you take too much time off it can make things worse because a bunch of the muscle built up is gone and you wind up playing on the injury.
  10. soulfilet

    soulfilet New Friend

    Apr 14, 2008
    How are your chops now?

    I just sent a reply to the post "lip injury" by Utu. There's some info on Dr. Simon McGrail in Toronto, who is a specialist at reconstructive surgery for brass players. It may be useful to contact him if the problem hasn't cleared up.

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