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 Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: belle 
Date:   2021-06-01 06:00

I have an observation leading to my question.... all top oboe players seem to have thin lips. I initial thought that playing the oboe might tone the facial muscles differently and cause thinner lips, but I think now after decades of on/off playing but initially intense for 5 years through university, perhaps it's that people with thinner lips have the advantage of not having extra (often substantial) cushioning that the embouchure muscles have to negotiate. They can therefore practise for longer and are therefore the ones that make it professionally.

I've come to this theory through observation, but also from wondering why I myself have very poor (15-30mins) endurance after YEARS of practise under a teacher and then professor teacher (who also had thin lips).

I don't play on reeds that are too hard... just Soft-Medium soft European or Medium Soft-Medium American. But I wish I could play on a harder reed to get a bigger sound. I train my embouchure with an old reed when I don't practise on the instrument. When I tire, I feel my bottom teeth dig into the inside area of under my lower lip line. There is a substantial chunk of flesh there too as I have a thicker skin type in general. (Meaning I can't pinch my skin less than half and inch thick except at my elbow, top of hands and feet.) Any thoughts?

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 Re: Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: Hotboy 
Date:   2021-06-01 09:45

Please name names. Which "top oboe players" do you think have thin lips? I need convincing to buy into your theory.

Bay Area, California

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 Re: Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: ckoboe777 
Date:   2021-06-22 22:50

I agree with Dane. This makes no sense.

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 Re: Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: CogentCap 
Date:   2021-08-04 21:38

Plenty of top U.S. players have full, thick lips. I myself have extremely full lips and I'm a professional player. I can think of several high-profile famous players with full lips but don't want to name names on the Internets bc that conversation could turn weird pretty quick. Try looking at personnel photos on the websites of top U.S. orchestras and see for yourself.

I know it's a tempting conclusion to reach after seeing players like Francois Leleux and Albrecht Mayer with their invisilips, but keep in mind that thin lips is a distinctively continental-European look. Although they think they own music, the rest of us are good at it too, lol :)

Your concern about your endurance is valid, but you are asking to wrong question to resolve it. Maybe try looking at your embouchure? Could altering that in a constructive way give you more endurance?

Also, don't overlook practicing more as the obvious solution. If you stop playing when you get tired, so you only play 30 mins a day, you'll never get any stronger than that, regardless of having a teacher or not. Try playing in two or three sessions a day of 15-30 mins each. You should see yourself gain strength this way for sure. Even if you still stop when you get tired, you'll get tired farther and farther into your sessions.

Good luck!


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 Re: Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: wkleung 
Date:   2021-08-13 07:45

From my personal observations, players with thicker/fuller lips indeed have more problems playing the oboe. The more lips one has, the more one has to roll in, hence one gets tired more quickly. When I started, I was in a class of 11 (or 12). The one with the most problem was the one with the fullest lips.

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 Re: Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: Prudence 
Date:   2021-09-20 09:23

While placing the mouthpiece so the rim rests on the red of the upper lip is rare and not and limited flexibility and endurance, range difficulties.

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 Re: Fat/Thick lips/skin making endurance on oboe difficult?
Author: CogentCap 
Date:   2021-09-23 01:28

Here is a fb link from the Marigaux guy featuring all the semi-finalists of the Geneva Competition. Before you click it, how do you expect their lips will look?

Now see if their faces are as you expected. Interestingly enough, I would say NONE of them have thin lips.

Here's the link (or google it yourself if you prefer):!/story.php?story_fbid=10158751215682569&id=648817568&m_entstream_source=feed_mobile


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