Lip Healing

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by alakazam, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. alakazam

    alakazam New Friend

    Dec 5, 2013
    Good evening everyone.For over 15 years i play trumpet to the local band and i usually play the high notes due to my experience.I use a no-name 7c mouthpiece.
    Recently a problem with my lips occured.
    4 months ago we were in a concert and when we played the last score the audience requested another one.That last score had an high A and i struggled to make it happen but this damaged my upper lip.

    This happened again 3 weeks ago when we were practicing for Christmas.A layer of the skin from the upper lip was removed due to the over effort.The lip healed but whenever i touch the mouth piece i feel that i will damage my lips again.

    Is there any way to strengthen the lips to avoid further future damage?

    Thanks for reading.
  2. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

    Jul 5, 2010
    Vienna, Austria, Europe
    Weelll... I am not a qualified physician - ask gmonady for that nkind of advice - but I would say that you should leave off the top range bits for quite some time, get your lip back into shape by long, low notes and retrain to a low-pressure ambouchure. And look out for any threads on TM with FD (focal dystonia) as search terms... lots of info there. And you might help your recovery by changing to a mouthpiece with a wider and shallower rim (e.g. a 7CW, or a Denis Wick #4), But the mouthpiece safari will be AFTER your recovery.
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Welcome to TM, alakzam. I'm hoping one of our tame doctors will chime in, but I've torn bits of skin off and bruised my lips playing a couple of times back in my teenage years and years later got my lips bruised again by an ill-thrown Frisbee. (Not ill caught--ill thrown and with malice.) Ice, in my experience was more of a placebo than useful; aspirin and beer seemed to help more.

    Fluttering the lips, or playing low long tones while singing almost the same pitch can increase blood flow and healing.

    Training is the best prevention for overuse, as Barliman has pointed out. The better in shape we are, the more we can press without damage. Professional wrestlers and American football players can absorb more impact than mere mortals, and the same is true for our chops, as long as it doesn't involve getting hit with a steel chair or an ill-thrown Frisbee.

    My favorite exercise is from John Glasel. Play a comfortable long tone, then gradually reduce pressure until it sounds bad, as in real bad, first day on the horn kind of bad. Using the embouchure, make it sound "better." It still won't sound good, just better, but is a great low-impact exercise to develop the ring of muscles surrounding our lips.

    As for a mouthpiece change, I really can't advise that kind of thing over the internet. The inner bite of the rim is (to me) a much bigger issue than rim width, and we all have our own funky dental make-up that can be a factor. Rest when you can, and after the season of heavy playing is over start building up your chops.
  4. Buck with a Bach

    Buck with a Bach Fortissimo User

    Dec 29, 2009
    Canton, Ohio
    I cut mine a few years back fixing a friend's disc brakes. Several stitches later I was just fine, but have always wondered if that might be where a couple notes of my upper register(?) went:dontknow::oops:
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    PM me with specifics as to what you mean by damage. Before I can make any further suggestions, I need more detail regarding this initial event, and the recovery period (if there was recovery) to be able to connect this to the second event.
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi alakazam,
    You have discovered one of the two beasts (mouthpiece pressure and tension) that haunt trumpet players of all sizes.
    Of course I can't see you but here's what appears to be going on:
    When you play, you tend to tip the horn up a little. That means that only a part of the rim is the pressure point when excessive pressure is used. For whatever reason, you scraped the inside of your upper lip with your teeth and abraded the top layer of skin. You also caused pain due to only part of the mouthpiece rim being forced against the lip due to the rim not being flush against the lips.
    How to fix it:
    There's a document called The Basics Sheet that can be of great help. If you copy the bold words and paste them to the advanced search, you can print it out for free.
    Also, to strengthen your embrouchure:
    1.Watch the tilt of your horn. When it's tipped too much (up or down), it can pinch a small section of the lip against the teeth. Keep the mouthpiece fairly flush against the lips.
    2. Pay close attention to your face. When you "feel" your face getting red, quit blowing so hard. We never force the air.
    3. Practice soft..No softer than that, really soft. That's close but softer still. I need to be able to talk to someone with you playing beside me and not have to strain to hear or talk. In fact, have two people stand by you and talk while you play.
    4. Now that you've got the volume thing down, practice lip slurs for 7 minutes a day using these valve combos with "0" being low C.
    0--123--13---23---12---1---2. Practice loosing the sloppy attacks, messy smears between intervals and overall rough sound. A minute for each one if you can. Keep it light, quiet, and beautiful.
    4. As VB suggested: Play a comfortable long tone, then gradually reduce the mouthpiece pressure until it sounds bad, as in real bad, first day on the horn kind of bad. This will give you an idea of what lip muscles should be used and it's low impact.
    Hope this helps.
  7. alakazam

    alakazam New Friend

    Dec 5, 2013
    I'm a little concerned because it happened now,after all these years of playing.I have to inform you that the band is municipal and i play with a borrowed trumpet all these years and our mouthpieces variety extends from 3c to 7c.However thank you for the lip tips
  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Take it from me... it is not the size of the mouthpiece that did this.

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