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 Re: Biting and lip pain
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2018-08-31 01:06

Going back to the original poster: if you're getting good results, then it may be that you need to do no more than round off the sharp edges of your lower teeth, either directly with your dentist, or by covering them with something – I use a piece of folded-over PARAFILM.

Just to clarify some of the other stuff:

'Biting' is: playing the instrument using only the muscles that CLOSE the jaw -- that's like using a pair of pliers.

'NOT biting' is: playing the instrument by fixing the aperture of the embouchure, balancing the muscles that CLOSE the jaw against the muscles that OPEN the jaw -- that's like setting a wrench.

Notice that you can RESET a wrench. And notice that a wrench, despite the fact that its aperture doesn't change, exerts varying forces on the something it is holding in reaction to the changing relationship between that something and the wrench as the wrench is used.

So, biting tends to limit the flexibility of the lower lip, which becomes at worst like a piece of dead meat covering the lower teeth.

Whereas, not biting allows real-time unconscious variation of flexion of the lower lip, and real-time unconscious variation of the area of contact between the lower lip and the reed. You can also consciously (or unconsciously) reset the aperture between top and bottom teeth to take account of the requirements of different musical circumstances.

It's another example of SUPPORT, which in clarinet playing means the simultaneous use of opposing sets of muscles.

And here's another thing worth thinking about:

Your lower lip rests on your lower teeth. In order to do its work controlling the reed, it must have space to flex; it can't be crammed up against the reed 'like a dead piece of meat', as we've said.

When you set the 'wrench' (the distance between your upper and lower jaw), you have to avoid this restrictive cramming. If the wrench is set too small, your lower lip doesn't have space to flex.

On the other hand, if the wrench is set TOO LARGE, then your lower lip has to flex TOO MUCH in order to do its work. That quickly tires it.

Imagine you're standing on a platform in order in order to push against a sprung trapdoor in your ceiling. (Perhaps someone is walking about in your loft, and you have to make sure that when they step on the trapdoor you can resist it descending:-)

If the platform is too high, you have no flexibility: you're squashed up against the trapdoor.

If the platform is too low, though, you have to stretch to reach the trapdoor, and have no flexibility for the opposite reason.

You're best off with a platform that enables you to be halfway between these extremes, with legs and arms a bit bent so that you can push upwards comfortably to varying degrees -- just the sort of thing that your embouchure needs to do against the reed.

So, set the wrench sensibly. It's just as bad for it to be too open as it is for it to be too closed.


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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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