Fat sore numb lip

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by neal085, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. neal085

    neal085 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 6, 2012
    Ft. Worth, TX
    The last several days when I practice, I find that within 10-15 minutes, my middle upper lip is sore and also feels fat and numb. Anything over G above the staff has become pretty hit-or-miss.

    Here are 3 things I can think of that I've changed in recent weeks:

    1. I started using ChopSaver instead of Burt's Bees.
    2. Two weeks ago, I went from practicing 4-5 times a week for 30-45 minutes to practicing 5-6 times a week from 30-60 minutes, and roughly doubling my practice time overall.
    3. I switched from a Yamaha Xeno to a B&S Challenger II, still using the same Stork mouthpiece.

    I took a lesson today for the first time in over a month, and my teacher mentioned that I'm blowing harder than necessary for good tone.

    He and I both thought I might take several days off, doing nothing more than soft long tones in the lower register.

    Possibly a combination of blowing too hard and my lips maybe needing time to adjust to the increase in practice.

    Thoughts? Recommendations?
  2. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Over blowing and too much pressure.

    Listen to your teacher.
  3. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Play 20 minutes, rest 20 minutes, play 20 minutes, and count your hours only on play time. Always play as softly as possible. Initially for the first 6 months 1 hour of Play (actual lip time is enough if daily 6 days a week. I too rest on Sundays unless playing in church).
  4. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    I'd think that doubling playing time suddenly would be counter productive... increase playing time gradually over a few months.

    This is too wide a description. On the low end 4x a week @ 30mins is 2hrs, and 6x a week @60mins is 6hrs... So that is TRIPLE.

    The playing time is actually very light, I myself do about 3hrs a day spread across 5-6 sessions, and I am sure there are people that do twice what I do. The trick is to gradually build the base and understand whether or not what you are doing is in line with your goals.

    Keep a log (I use "Time Recorder" app on my Android phone). I can ever document what I am practicing and at the end of the week know what percentages I spend on each task (long tones, flexibilities, scales, tonguing, literature, improvisation, range/strength, rehearsal/performance, etc). Sometimes WHAT you do is more important than HOW LONG you do it.


    Remember that REST is an important component of building strength. I sometimes have to set a timer and say "no playing for 3 hrs" to make sure I am getting adequate recovery time.

    I have never taken a day off from practicing since I started my comeback, now 2-1/2 years. I figure I had 19 years off and I don't need and additional rest days... I took them all at once!

    MORE, but shorter, sessions will be better than one long marathon session. Three 20 mins sessions with adequate rest in between is going to benefit you alot more than one 60 minute workout.
  5. neal085

    neal085 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 6, 2012
    Ft. Worth, TX
    That's a very insightful post, sir! I have to schedule practice time around a busy work schedule, 3+ hours a week at the gym, church 3 times a week, plus maintaining a house, wife and 2 squids.

    I've been working towards a 60-minute practice twice a week with 3 other 30-45 minute sessions, plus buzzing my mouthpiece on my commute.

    20 minutes three times a day might work better on some days, though.

    I agree - I took nearly 15 years off, so missing one day makes me irritable.

    I used to get bored with long tones, flexibility exercises and slurs, but now I embrace all of it, knowing that I become a better musician every time I work at it.
  6. neal085

    neal085 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 6, 2012
    Ft. Worth, TX
    Another thing my teacher mentioned was making sure my bottom lip was engaged in the embouchure.

    So I did that this AM and backed way off on the air power, and had a good 25 minutes of productive practice that didn't leave me sore or tired.

    By the end, playing the horn with good tone felt very easy and effortless. I also noticed a spike in my stamina. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

    And yes, I'm going to start logging my practice - that just makes sense. Thank you!
  7. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Good advice has been given.

    Lip balm and changing trumpets are non-issues.

    I like the idea of keeping a log. I did the same when I started my comeback 5 years ago. I logged how my chops felt before I started playing, what I played, and how my chops felt afterwards.

    It sounds like you already know the problem -- you're playing more, and your lips are hurting. You need to play less (or play more intelligently), and build up slowly. If possible, it might also help to practice the same amount daily, although I realize your schedule seems to prohibit it. But 30 minutes (two 15-minute sessions) daily might be a good goal. Read the instructions for Clarke Technical Study #1, your lips should ALWAYS feel fresh -- before you practice, while you practice, and after you practice.

    EDIT: I'd be careful about the mouthpiece buzzing during your commute. That's a good way to lose track of how much your playing. It might be better to stick to the 30 minutes 7 days a week, and build up from there.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013
  8. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Neal,
    Sorry to hear about your problem. Hopefully this will help.
    The next time you play, I want you to focus on two primary things:
    1. Your face
    2. Your tongue
    1a.When you play, get to know the feeling in your face. When you feel it getting red, stop blowing so hard. You have enough powewr to play, if your face is turning red, then you are over doing it. Blow easier and feel the red face go away.
    2a. Notice your tongue when you play. Is it stiff and rigid? Chances are, it is. Often a stiff tongue is the result of forcing the air too much. You don't want every note that you play to sound like it came from a jackhammer. If you notice that your tongue is stiff or that the tip of your tongue is anchored on the "top" of the mouth, ease up and keep the tongue loose and flexible.
    What will paying attention to these two body parts do? Hopefully get you to play softer and with less tension and force.
    There's a time and a place for compression and hot notes. Everytime isn't it.
    Hope this helps.
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Another thing to factor in is the sound of the before and after trumpets. It's been my experience that the Xenos are brighter than the Challengers are. If you a trying to get the same sound, that might contribute to your current issues.
  10. neal085

    neal085 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 6, 2012
    Ft. Worth, TX
    Good thought.

    From everything I'd seen/heard, the Challenger II is a heavier horn with a darker sound than the Xeno's, so I was expecting it.

    I can definitely vouch for the weight difference.

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