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 Re: Biting and lip pain
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-08-29 09:37

A few very good players I know, one is Steve Barta formerly with the Baltimore Symphony had issues and used cigarette paper over his lower teeth. He is talented. Studied with Harold Wright and Robert Marcellus. He uses a more open mouthpiece, a Kaspar 1.11mm's with about a 3 to 3 1/2 reed. He makes his own reeds so I'm not sure of the exact strength.

You surely can try a double lip embouchure. Here's what I'm thinking. Often players bite to hit the high notes. Surely a bad habit in my opinion. With double lip playing you probably won't bite, because your upper lip will hurt too. So this will correct the biting problem. Steve Barta plays both ways, with a single lip and a double lip.

We have to look at your mouthpiece. So many people are playing on too open tip openings. Such as 1.12mm's or so and harder reeds. With double lip playing you will find that you don't have to use a wide open mouthpiece, maybe just 1.03mm's or so. Even the great Eddie Daniels went from a 1.10mm's down to a 1.03 and he of course can play all over the upper register of the horn. His comment is pretty much why suffer and kill yourself with a too open mouthpiece.

So I don't know what you are playing on but maybe try a softer reed and a less open mouthpiece and of course try long tones as warm ups for using a double lip embouchure. I'd say to warm up with a double lip embouchure for the rest of your life.

I think having a sore lower lip is common after 3 hours of practice for a lot of players. I also think with a double lip embouchure your sound will not suffer at all and probably get better, as you posted above.

The trick to double lip playing is use a lot of mouthpiece to the point when you squeak, then back off just a shade. In most cases that is the correct position and you are letting the reed vibrate to its max. If you back off too far even playing with a single lip you often have to bite and push up on the reed against the curve of the mouthpiece to hit the high notes. So the more you bite down the more pain you will have. The more open the mouthpiece requires more of the reed to be physically bent by your lower lip. So again, take in as much as mouthpiece as you can allowing the reed and the curve of the mouthpiece to do as much of the work as possible.

I've seen some really horrible biting with the upper teeth as well. Patches with holes in them. Well this is just wrong and players will never gain good sounds.

So if your upper lips hurt when doing this you should take time to learn to play with less pressure. Build a strong upper embouchure and in a few months or maybe longer this adjustment will save you in the long run. You should be able to articulate easier as well because your embouchure is firm, but relaxed and your tongue will also be more relaxed. You won't be hitting the reed with great force with your tongue allowing for faster articulation. Good luck! It's worth a serious commitment.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Topics Author  Date
 Biting and lip pain  new
rrgerhardt19 2018-08-29 02:58 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
Ken Lagace 2018-08-29 04:24 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
Paul Aviles 2018-08-29 07:30 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
Bob Bernardo 2018-08-29 09:37 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
FwLineberry 2018-08-30 05:58 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
kdk 2018-08-30 07:03 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
DougR 2018-08-30 18:15 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
Tony Pay 2018-08-31 01:06 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
Bob Bernardo 2018-08-31 07:12 
 Re: Biting and lip pain  new
DougR 2018-08-31 16:20 


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