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Author: tobayna 
Date:   2006-10-07 23:58

my daughter has began her second year playing the clarinet. when she first started playing, her lips swelled and the skin around them turned red. we got med from the doctor, it didnt really help, but they did get somewhat better. they healed up this summer, but when she started marching band playing more than ever, they started swelling again. after last nights game, they are swelled bigger than ever. someone told her to try plastic reeds. but since her top lip is swollen also, i think it might be the mouthpiece. this is the 3rd mouthpiece she has had in a year but they have all been plastic. she has skin allergies and we can only use certain washing powders. do you think it might be that she is allergic to the plastic? i dont want to invest a lot of money into a crystal mouthpiece or metal.. but i will if it will help. has any one heard of this happening to anyone else? which would be better, metal or crystal???

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-10-08 00:07

I'll wager it's the reeds; try switching to plastic (Legeres are very good).

I've not known of any metal clarinet mouthpieces (at least currently), and crystal mouthpieces are not only expensive but very fragile. If a switch to plastic reeds doesn't help, though, that may be the last resort.

Your doctor. of course, is who you should be consulting to check on this (most probably) contact dermatitis.

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: tobayna 
Date:   2006-10-08 00:31

we took her when it first started occuring, and the doctor said it was from her licking her lips...........but it isnt.. it has to be the mouthpiece or reed. ebay has a metal mouthpiece, it's part plastic and metal... only place i have seen them...

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2006-10-08 00:55

Dear Tobayna,

It's hard to fathom an allergy to plastic since this is an inert substance BUT... you may try wood since this is another direction. The Pomarico mouthpieces are very good running just a little more than a standard good mouthpiece at $123.00 from Frederick H. Weiner. Then there are the smokin' mouthpieces from Greg Smith at $250.00 but I would look at the Legere reed first and then try the mouthpiece route.

For my money I've never run into a decent metal mouthpiece and the crystals are really sketchy (you really have to try a bunch to get a good one).

..........Paul Aviles

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: ElBlufer 
Date:   2006-10-08 01:16

You also have not mentioned that you have tried hard rubber mouthpieces. If this is the case, have her try vandorens or one of the many other brands that are reviewed on this site.

My Setup:
R13 Clarinet (Ridenour Lyrique as my backup/marching instrument)
Walter Grabner K11 mouthpiece
Rico Reserve 3.5's
Bonade ligature

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: Alseg 
Date:   2006-10-08 01:39

Are you absolutely certain the mouthpieces are plastic?
If they are hard rubber, you might be dealing with a latex allergy.

-Where the Sound Matters Most(tm)-
412 889 8202

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: tobayna 
Date:   2006-10-08 02:54

the mouthpieces she has had are the cheapest you can buy. i'm almost certain they are just plastic. i had thought about trying one of the hard rubber ones. i ordered one of the legere reeds and if that doesnt help, i will try a hard rubber mouthpiece. i'm afraid to try a crystal one because she is very clumsy.:)

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: D 
Date:   2006-10-08 12:12

When she takes the mouthpiece out of her mouth then the top and bottom lips will make contact, thus if the wood from the reed is causing irritiation this might be where it irritates the top lip also.

What do people think about painting a cheap plastic mouthpiece (on the non reed surfaces only of course) with that lacqure that you get to paint onto earring posts to make them hypoallergenic. Would it make the mouthpiece unplayable?

Is she using a mouthpiece patch, that could be what she is allergic to.

Post Edited (2006-10-08 13:33)

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: myrnabs 
Date:   2006-10-08 18:42

What is the difference between a hard plastic or wood mouthpiece? Do they project different sounds?

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: C2thew 
Date:   2006-10-08 19:10

If she does have a serious allergy to mouthpieces concerning either latex or rubber, you might want to switch instruments as allergic reactions are extremely dangerous. Take for example the girl that was allergic to peanut butter that was on the news a while ago. she had kissed her boyfriend who had just eaten a peanut butter sandwich, and died from the swelling inside her throat. Now your daughter might not have such an extreme reaction as to this, but consider this. if she was marching on a hot day and somehow the particles from the mouthpiece seemed into her lungs, would she be able to recover from this? There are serious risks involved that might lead to complications.

though if latex is the problem, a crystal mouthpiece is probably a good solution.

but before you do go and buy a new mouthpiece/reed, take her to an allergy clinic and find out what she's allergic to. i dont think she'll like playing something that will make her feel miserable.

just my 2 cents.

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. they are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which was already but too easy to arrive as railroads lead to Boston to New York
-Walden; Henry Thoreau

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: Bill Stutsman 
Date:   2006-10-08 21:24

Lots of good advice here. The best advice is to get her to a good allergy clinic where the situation can be throughly and properly diagonsed. I'm going to assume that she is about 12. Allergies that appear at this age sometimes soon mellow or disappear. But you can't wait for that.

Believe it or not I had a similar problem with a student. The interior of the lips become puffy and felt dry even when they were moist. It did not effect gums. The girl was using a whitening toothpaste that somehow conflicted with the clarinet playing. A different toothpaste was tried and the problem disappeared.

If she is playing on a plastice mouthpiece, her band director/teacher should be smacked up the side of the head <grin>. Use hard rubber only or maybe crystal or wood later. Plastic mouthpieces are put in clarinet kits just to complete the outfit. The manufacturer assumes that the teacher will have it replaced by the teacher's prefered mouthpiece.

I suspect the reed. You can test different brands of reeds cheaply. It might be something in the treatment that her reed goes through in manufacturing.

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2006-10-08 21:39

Bill Stutsman wrote:

> If she is playing on a plastice mouthpiece, her band
> director/teacher should be smacked up the side of the head
> <grin>.

I'm sorry, that's just not true. The Fobes Debut, Hawkins student, Pyne Polycrystal, and I'm sure other well-made plastic mouthpieces are just fine & dandy.

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 Re: mouthpiece!
Author: pewd 
Date:   2006-10-08 22:26

I've started putting my students on Fobes Debut's the last year or so, as they're less than 1/2 the cost of Vandorens. They play fine , great sound.

back to the original question, i'd consult an allergist, switch to a legere reed, and if the problem continues, switch to a crystal mouthpiece.

some folks have allergies to metals - like silver - try a luyben (plastic) ligature as well.

- Paul
private teacher - Dallas, Texas

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