Playing "In the Red" With Big Lips

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetaddict, May 18, 2012.

  1. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    Yea, but Armstrong didn't play in the red. He had a textbook embouchure.
     
  2. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    I would like to add to waht rowuk said. For the long tones start on G in the staff at 1/4note = 60. Softly play a 2 tied whole notes with a whole note rest. Do this four times without stopping. Then stop, take mpc off the lips. Repeat exercise with F#, then F, E, Eb, D, C#, C. Stop and rest. Then repeat starting on G, then G#, A, Bb, B, C. Stop and rest. Then repeat starting on low C, then low B, Bb, A, Ab, G, F#, stop and rest. During this adjustment period don't try and play any higher than you can comfortably play.IMPORTANT: don't force or strain to play at any time.

    BUT and this is really IMPORTANT: don't try and do this by your self.This requires expert help from a teacher who knows what you need to do. One that will look at the total way you play.+
     
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    As a medical professional, I have found the concept of whether playing in the red is dangerous or not facinating. My lecturer in histology in my first year of medical school stated, the mucosal membrane is very adaptable to the environment, as long as it is kept moist. I have searched the medical literature extensively and have yet to find any evidence that playing in red can damage lip tissure. I found it intersting that another individual has tried a search and had a similar experience. I will post what he said, and then give you the link to his entire site:

    Searching through the literature, both medical and musical, does show a lot of scholarly articles dealing with lip damage, but to my knowledge there are none that show the vermilion is more sensitive to pressure and prone to damage from normal brass playing. Just because I can’t find any doesn’t mean it isn’t there, but such a confident statement as Porter’s doesn’t appear to be backed up.

    On the other hand, I have found a handful of articles that would appear to support my thoughts that the vermilion is quite capable of taking rim contact during brass playing without much trouble. Heston L. Wilson, M.D., writes in the scholarly journal The Clarinet, “…the vermilion portion of the lips tolerates pressure well and the inner membrane does not.” (Wilson, Lips, The Clarinet, Sep. 2000, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p. 38).

    While not specifically related to the topic of placing the mouthpiece rim on the vermilion, Wilson’s quote is another reason why recommendations to actually roll the lower lip out while playing pedal tones on trumpet and horn may actually do more harm than good and perhaps are best avoided entirely.

    Here is the complete link: Brass Embouchures: Playing On the Red Is Fine (as long as it fits your anatomy)



    If I do find medical information as to either side of this argument, be assured, I will post it. I do agree with Rowuk's excellent discussion, as this gives a highly accurate background as to the complex involvment of lip physiology. Add to this the histology of the tissues involved... we are talking about quit complex processes.

    I think it is dangerous from my perspective as a medical specialist, to boldly state that playing on the red is going to do harm and damage you like being hit by a brick. The human body in this area is very adaptable.
     
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Please do post these pictures to prove your point. Remember there may have been other embouchure dynamics at play leading to damage. Louis Armstrong, while having robust lips as accurately noted by one of our posters, did not play in the red. Never-the-less, Louis did extensive damage to his embouchure, know as Satchmo's Syndrome. Please do help me understand this response by providing definitive cause and effect references.
     
  5. jdizzysawyer

    jdizzysawyer New Friend

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    I have been having a similar problem. It first started about a year ago and I had fixed it but it is coming back. I think it starts to happen to me when I try to play higher than I am ready for. My mouthpiece slips "into the red" and I can hit the high note, but following that my endurance is affected as well as my articulation. I'm a freshman in high school and in my final project for band I have to hit an Eb above the staff. Practicing this has caused me to once again play "In the red".

    When it first started happening to me, I ended up spending my entire summer working on very slow long-tone warm ups focusing on not letting my mouthpiece slip into the red.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Gary,

    the danger is in the geometry. When we get out of the red, certain muscles don't function holistically with the others anymore and the tissue required to open and close is choked off. It simply booby traps the leverage we need for the fine motor activity needed to play. The "damage" is in the messed up geometry that is very tough to unlearn. THAT constitutes lifetime chop problems. Don't play in the red! Learning incorrectly will have a function like being hit with a brick - big changes required to get to any type of "functional" base.

    As far as the body being adaptable, when it comes to survival, yes I agree. The attitude of the trumpet player is mostly not so adaptable. They seem to prefer running into a knife rather than taking the path of least resistance. Learned habits are also not so adaptable when not required for survival. The thread owner is a junior in high school, perhaps also with a touch of imagined indestructability associated with post pubescent behaviour.

    Students that have come to me and played in the red always got more lip slurs than their classmates. Their path was always tougher than with others. After a summer break, it was always back to square one - all adaptation gone.


     
  7. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    I can't quite recall who noticed I was playing "in the red" when I first started out . I believe it was my first instructor and he switched me from my Al Hirt Jet Tone to a 3c mouthpiece and told me to use a mirror. I would play a passage and then look to see where the ring was on my lips. I even used that method during my comeback. It never was in the red but it reassured me I had the placement correctly.
    I agree with everyone about finding an instructor. I do think you should know a dedicated student is going to put in a minimum of 2-3 hours a day and probably more. That doesn't include band time, strictly practicing the lesson plan.
    You can probably expect your range to drop down initially so you will have a choice to make ....impress your friends with high notes or learn to play the trumpet. That is another reason to get an instructor. He/she will see improvements most others won't and it will give you positive reinforcment during that tough transition period.
    I didn't understand the value of long tones until I explored them this past year. Thanks to many of the people you are seeing post from by the way. If you give long tones an honest try I believe you will be happy with the results.
    Circle of Breath ...read it... read it again ... and try it ... with a mirror.
    Try to find a qualified teacher.
     
  8. wilktone

    wilktone New Friend

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    Mouthpiece placement is personal and dependent on the player's anatomy, not geometry. I didn't always place on the red of my upper lip, but when I finally made the switch it opened up my range and tone. I don't recommend this placement for everyone, but as long as a player has a long enough top lip in relation to their upper teeth and the vermillion is large enough, there's no medical or mechanical reason why placing on the red would be destructive to long term success. While it's not as common, there are plenty of examples of fine players who place on the red of their upper lip with no issues. Please read the link that was posted above and you'll see some examples.


    Dave
     
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Rowuk, please do PM me an email address where I can send you a very interesting medical research article looking at the muscle function of trumpet players. The use EMG studies performed on trumpet players that demonstrated the concern you expressed above may be relevant for beginner players that have yet to develop their embouchure. Of interest, experienced players learn to use additional embouchure muscles that would protect them from the damage. I found two PubMed searches that support these concepts. While these articles to not specifically the dynamics of playing in the red, I believe much can be inferred from this information.

    After an extensive PubMed search, there is NO information published specific to harm of playing in the red, but I have found some interesting research regarding to lip dystonia that reports a number of difficulties that trumpet players (and more frequent in French horn and tuba players) develop from using sound mouthpiece placement, yet still develop medical conditions.


    Bottom line: There is a wealth publications of damage being done by NOT playing in the red and absolutely no medical literature of damage with playing in the red. So I come away with the following observation from what has been published in the medical literature: For beginners, playing in the red has the potential for damage (much as what was described by you, Rowuk, in your message to me); however, for the experienced player, with advance technique in the use of additional embouchure musculature (again as diagramed well in Rowuks anatomy post), playing in the red would be predictably safe.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that a bunch of stuff is being confused here. I have never found any documentation of tissue damage related to placement of any kind. Tissue damage is caused by force and that can have several sources and results.

    My arguments for staying out of the red deal with the actual function of the muscles in relation to the embouchure, and the embouchures function itself. The function of the lips is to act like a switch, turning the air on and off. The upper lip provides most of the movement. Here are some high speed videos documenting a cross section of embouchures
    IWK Brass Research

    Endurance is also NOT a function of the lips, rather the supporting muscles and coordination between breathing and the fine motor activity.

    In my 35 years of teaching I have NEVER had a successful student "playing in the red". To be honest, I NEVER discuss this with my students or ask them to use a mirror. If I notice the red, they get a (much) heavier diet of specific lipslurs. I monitor how the lipslurs are played (they should float on air). ALL of the students inside of 3 months had an evolutionary change and got the red inside the cup without any extra "coaching". My belief is that if we do what is good for us often enough, the results speak for themselves. An embouchure "migrates" to a more efficient state. With a proper embouchure, the lips are constantly in motion. The biggest problem is armstrong (pressure) clamping the lips down. That is not cured with an embouchure change, rather with superior breathing habits.

    This whole discussion is very typical of the trumpet world. Get stuck on stuff that only really has academic interest.


    Wilktone,
    I will stick with "geometry" not anatomy. Based on my teaching experience there are many common denominators regardless of the shape of the face. The muscles learn to behave in a certain way based on LEVERAGE. A solid daily routine brings the lips closer together when playing which results in a smaller aperature and less loss of air during playing. This alone probably accounts for most of my observations about what happened with my students. When kids get braces and the embouchure moves a millimeter or so further away from the teeth, predictable things happen and a good knowledge of geometry can help minimize the effects.

    So like everything else concerning the body, I will rely on my personal experiences over a wide range of players and continue to focus on efficient, not anatomical agendas.
     

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