Interesting observation

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by VetPsychWars, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    After a couple of weeks off the horn for holidays (and trust me, at my level, it doesn't make much difference), yesterday and today I've played better than I have in years. Effortless, articulations good, intonation right on (OK, it's a wide-slotting horn, my intonation is always right on).

    What's different?

    No hair on my lower lip. I shaved the beard off.

    Could it be that simple? In high school, my senior year, my playing went to hell (still sat first chair of 15!). The hair on the lower lip started to grow then. I've had the mustache since I was 16 and only shaved it when my mother threatened to not pay for a senior/yearbook picture, and doesn't seem to make a difference but holy smokes, the lower lip fur-free seems to be a major improvement.

    I guess if I ever grow the beard back I'll have to make sure that the lower lip stays clean!

  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    When I was a young whipper-snapper Army bandsman, I grew out my mustache in an effort to look older than I was, and also because it was as far as I could stretch the reg on hair and facial hair. At the time it seemed like that mustache actually helped my playing, and I attributed it to not abrading the upper edge of my lip with a razor every day. Then I went to the Old Guard where facial hair was not allowed at all, so I spent the next 7 years clean shaven. When I left the Army, my plan was to let the 'stache grow back in, but in the 7 years I was clean shaven, I got older and the nature of the hair on my lip changed - it got coarser. At that point it was actually uncomfortable, so I shaved it off and have been clean shaven ever since. (One of my friends jokingly said that the 'stache made me look like a 70s pr0n star, which is another reason I've never tried to grow it back) I had a goatee for a while, but that was during my first 18 months out of the Army when I didn't really play at all.

    It doesn't surprise me that you had a shift in your playing due to the lack of the facial hair on your lip. When changes as small as a few thousandths of an inch in a mouthpiece cup or the gap in a receiver can make a marked difference in how things feel and respond, it doesn't surprise me that shaving off the beard had an effect on your playing.

    As a side note, I've noticed over the last few years that how much I weigh also changes my playing - my lips get thicker and thinner with weight gain and loss, which in turn has an effect on how the mouthpiece feels and responds.
  3. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Just think how much better Doc could have been without the facial hair...;-)
  4. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    I've had a mustache since junior high, and a beard since college. On the rare occasion that I shave, the trumpet feels different. I feel my grip on the mouthpiece is a little tighter. It's like there's glue on my mouthpiece. When I put it on my chops, it's more easily sticks to my skin. I've never experimented with it much (facial hair vs no facial hair). So I don't know if this is better or worse.

    But if I was a betting man, I'd say that Ed is well-rested. That may be why things were working well yesterday. But who knows. It will be interesting to see how things go over the next few days.

  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I think it boils down to what you get used to, where on your chops you put your mouthpiece, how coarse your facial hair is and how far onto your lip it grows.

    The same arguments could be made in a couple of different directions:

    Bill Chase - clean shaven
    Arturo - sports a stache most of the time
    Maynard - I've never seen a pic of him anything other than clean shaven
    Bobby Shew - every pic of him I've seen he's got the full stache and beard going on
  6. gordonfurr1

    gordonfurr1 Forte User

    Aug 2, 2010
    North Carolina
    It might not be the hair, but instead the burger juice IN the hair.
  7. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    I started playing with no beard at all. Then the wife actually asked me to grow a face fungus, and I obliged. Actually, the hair itself only impacts on my playing when the moustache hair grows too long and gets into the mouthpiece. But I've fond something much more interesting: My playing is much more effected by the method of shaving (I trim the beard every two to three days):
    Electric shaver with oscillating blade (Braun and similar makes): Can't stand that for too long, as the blade gets hot, and I need both skin balm and aftershave to cool off. And both products tend to stretch the skin tighter, so - not good for playing.
    Electric shaver with rotating shaverheads (Philips and such): Prone not to cut the facial hair, but -especially when hair is caught on the outer rim of the rotors - to tear the hair out. Painful, and leaves significant swelling.
    Safety razor - rather prone to follow a theoretical curve of the lips, and not the actual line. Every shave results in minute cuts and abrasions which combined with shaving foam leads to - you've guessed it - swelling.
    Old style cut-throat razor: If you lather your cheeks with liquid cream soap instead of shaving soap, and then use a carefully-kept razor blade, I've found that not only can I trim the beard much easier, my playing afterwards feels relaxed. But of course, you have to find the right blade for you... mine is an heirloom from my great-grandfather. A nicely etched and engraved "Bopp's Special" dated 1899. It was in daily use until my great-grandfather passed away in 1931, was then taken over by my grandfather until be switched over to an electric Remington in 1967. But it was still kept in its own case, and regularly taken care of. I found it amongst my grandfathers effects in 1991 and started to use it in 2001... and it has not disappointed me ever. I now make a point of trimming the fungus with this blade before every big gig - it's part of the ritual. And even though it's an open blade cut-throat razor, I have not nicked myself even once with it. Somehow, the combination of blade and grip is so perfect that you find the correct angle of attack at once.
    Thanks, grandad!

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