Muscles of the embouchure

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Terrizzi, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Terrizzi

    Terrizzi New Friend

    Oct 18, 2010
    Jacksonville FL
    What is the proper way to think about muscle soreness?

    In weight lifting we are told not to work the same muscle everyday. Yet we are told to practise every day in order to keep up our lip. Experience seems to teach this also.

    How sore should one be? How do your lips feel after regularly playing for 10, 20 years?
    Obviously proper breathing and body synergy will reduce pressure, but what is your experience?
  2. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Great question .... I'm curious about that too, even though my embochure feels good all the time, with no soreness. Maybe I'm not pushing it.:dontknow:

    The experts will be along soon.

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011


    Apr 1, 2011
    This may not be helpful, but I read an interview with Charles Schlueter, and he said that he can put the horn down for a couple of weeks with no ill effects. I know that if I take a weekend off, I feel it on Monday. But I have only been playing daily for the past 12 years.
  4. fredthewhale

    fredthewhale Pianissimo User

    Jun 12, 2011
    New Jersey

    My muscles simply feel tired.

    My initial signs are that; my embouchure starts feeling a little unresponsive and i start to lose some of my flexibility. I have to work harder by supporting with my air and diaphram. And i notice my sound starting spread out - it starts to lose it's round center.

    I also notice that my bad habits / crutches, like physical pressure, start to creep in.

    I liken it to low blood sugar or being up too late - my muscles get logy and just simply need a rest.

    I've also learned that even though my embouchure is exhausted, it will be refreshen much faster and stronger, if i do a short (5 min) warm down - low, long tones. even though they may not sound pretty, it loosens up my muscles and they rest better.

    luckily, i don't have an adnoid problem, so my embouchure doesn't snore :shock:

    Happy day.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  5. fredthewhale

    fredthewhale Pianissimo User

    Jun 12, 2011
    New Jersey
    also, for me it works really well to do a six-day routine. my chops really appreciate a day off.
  6. DaveH

    DaveH Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    I have trouble with the idea of "muscle soreness". To me, this would suggest something amiss.

    I can understand some tiredness or fatigue, but if you are talking about advancing into actual pain, then I think something is wrong. Too much pressure, too much prolonged playing without appropriate rest, etc...

    My experience in this area would tend toward stiffness and loss of flexibility. At that point, I have always put the horn away for a period of time, and allowed the muscles and tissues to recover and regenerate to normal.

    I also always have trouble with the sometimes used weight lifting analogies. I do not think that concepts relating to embouchure development and trumpet playing are similar to those of weight lifting. Two completely different physical activities, with two completely different outcomes and intentions.

    Some will also argue about this...but I have found that mouthpiece buzzing can re-sensitize the lips somewhat.

    The best thing, IMO, is an appropriate period of rest between periods of playing. Getting the mouthpiece away from the lips is important.
  7. fredthewhale

    fredthewhale Pianissimo User

    Jun 12, 2011
    New Jersey
    +1 - I agree.

    I had a "special situation" where i had muscle soreness, but it shouldn't be a daily thing or something that I don't expect most players (student or professional) to experience.

    My circumstance was that after 12 years of playing, i decided to change my embouchure. I had muscle soreness during the process but is was mainly because i was pushing the new muscles to do what the older ones had done for so long (bad strategy and impatience).
  8. jtpowell

    jtpowell Pianissimo User

    Mar 15, 2011
    For me it's not just working the same muscles everyday. It's working the same muscles in the exact same way everyday. So I do my Claude Gordon Physical approach and Daily Trumpet Routines Daily. One day however may be single tongue. The next day may be slur all. The next day maybe I do it slur two up slur two down and kt. Soreness is not the word I'd really use to describe how I feel. I don't have any pain but my chops feel, well, exercised. For me it's a good feeling. It's an indicator I'm doing it right. If there is pain something is wrong.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I don't get sore from practicing - only after a long, hard blow of a gig, and that's only because I can't stop and put the horn away.

    I think that a good approach would be to split your practice days into different activities where technique is concerned. Rather than practice every element of technique every practice, do flexibilities one day, articulations the next, long tones the third, etc. Mix it up. This isn't to say that you can't and shouldn't touch on all aspects at once, but in working to really build things up and maintain them at a higher level, I think it's good to split things up among different days, and that also keeps you from over-taxing the same embouchure muscles daily, although in theory, for the person who practices regularly, your chops and chops muscles should become conditioned to the practice room regimen and therefore won't get sore.
  10. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    Agree on first point. Even when I was first starting a year and a half ago, and I was focusing alot on lip trills, my lip muscles were never sore afterwards, in the same way as leg muscles get sore after a runners first long run of the season. (Although I whistle constantly, for the last umpteen years so maybe there's a difference in my case.)

    On the second point, I disagree somewhat. Sure weightlifting is different, but both cases involve working muscles. Maybe our use in playing trumpet is more like what's called "definition" exercises. But many concepts still apply, at least that's what I've found personally. If I hammer away at lip buidling exercises then take a day or two off, that third day my chops are noticeably better, just like in weightlifting.

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