Email From Mother Of All-State High School Trumpeter Enduring Excessive Mouthpiece Pressure and Lip Tissue Inflammation.
The following is an email I received from a mother who was concerned about her son. Supposedly he was a good trumpeter player in high school auditioning for All-State Band.
Although I bent over backwards for her with a very, very detailed response regarding embouchure strength for brass and trumpet players as well as some options to correct her son's situation, I never received a reply. Lol, I did not even get a simple thank you.
This is another example of GIVING AWAY my time for free. It is part of the job description some times, but golly gee, If you can't tip or compensate the professional giving you expensive advice, is a respectful thank you out of the question?
It appears in 2022 with self-obsessed and self-centered people being the norm, RESPECT takes a big, far away back seat!
Here is that email. The last names have been changed to protect the ungrateful...oops, I meant changed to protect the innocent:
Our son Conner who is an all state level trumpet player has this year developed pressure induced inflammation in his upper lip,
The only solution is to play the trumpet with as minimal pressure in his upper lip as he can. He has had a couple instructor or professional players work with Jim to adjust how he plays do that pressure is more on his lower lip and he’s using air versus pressure to play. With the adjustment, he is able now to play about an hour before he starts to notice sing that causes issues.
We are just looking for options to help him improve and play at a high level without that lip pressure.
Is this something you are familiar with?
Let us know your thoughts or if you have any recommendations.
Ellen Foolsworthy, Iowa
MY RESPONSE A FEW HOURS LATER:
"Since it's late and I don't feel like typing on my phone I'm just going to voice text it so there could probably be some grammatical errors along the way. Excessive mouthpiece pressure is the nemesis and constant companion with all us brass players. It limits high range low range Dynamics good tone intonation articulation it can be very defeating because it makes the horn feel like an enemy and very uncomfortable to be playing.
That is the reason brass players will go on mouthpiece quests spending these days thousands of dollars for the right mouthpiece and then 5$k to $10,000 or more for the right horn to match up with that mouthpiece.
These external conditions can help alleviate excessive mouthpiece pressure but usually to a small extent. The real solution to combating excessive mouthpiece pressure is to build up an enormous amazing amount of embouchure strength.
In addition to embouchure strength building up lip strength is also essential. Many people think of both as the same. But a long time ago I accidentally discovered through looking at photos of a cadaver that the muscles of the embouchure and their texture differ greatly from the more gristled type of texture of our lips.
So of course both are related because they interact together and connected by tissue. Still a separate focus on lip strength needs to be undergone by the student as well of course as the professional.
The problem that your son has is that there is a hard metal object called a trumpet mouthpiece. There is a hard bone like object called the teeth. In between the hard metal mouthpiece and the hard bone material is the lip tissue which is soft with no type of protective bone material.
The lip has the ability to pooch our pucker out and make a cushion as the hard mouthpiece is pulling in against the hard teeth sandwiching the lip tissue.
It takes an enormous amount of strength for the lips to be able to constantly fight and push back against the mouthpiece avoiding being pinched bruised and hurt.
This is our success that we achieve when we build up enough strength so that we can cushion our lips and push back against the fighting force of the mouthpiece that is driving our lips into our teeth.
Unfortunately for your son he hasn't arrived at this point in his playing experience. This is probably due to bad advice or incorrect advice he has received through lessons books or possibly on YouTube .
So what is happening is he's having to use what we all do which is pressure pulling in towards the lip. He has not developed enough of the right strength in his lip and the embouchure to form that cushion to push back.
The end result is his lips are being pinched between the metal mouthpiece and the very hard like bone structure of his teeth.
Unfortunately most trumpet players don't stop when this happens because they want to keep playing or they want to play higher or they want to play longer or louder.
What happens then is the player will pull them even harder to be able to continue to produce the tone on the horn. It won't take very long at all with this kind of behavior and action on the lips for serious problems to develop.
Nerve damage cuts and grooves and gouges and yes like your son is experiencing very tremendously high inflammation of the soft tissue of the lip.
This is my area of expertise and I teach beginners all the way up to the top level of professionals including and up to university professors.
What separates me from other professionals besides the fact that many have come to me for lessons and advice is that I don't operate on Theory.
I practice what I preach and currently hold the world record in regards to trumpet high notes. In other words out of 7 billion people on this planet, I am the only one that has achieved a quadruple C on the trumpet.
I state this not to toot my own horn but to drive home a serious point in regards to embouchure strength: It's not theory or abstract but it is true physical strength that must be attained in order to enjoy playing this instrument.
Further, taking a lesson or two or learning a few tips or tricks from instructors or off the internet at the most will only be a Band-Aid for your son's dilemma.
Your son has to go through what I call the process. The process is a systematic approach infused with momentum to create a tremendously strong lip and embouchure ability.
This can't be learned in one book or in one lesson as has been proven by so many that have tried...and failed.
If your son is a hard worker and can make a commitment he likely will have success in my four month upper register course.
My course is different than regular trumpet lessons. Regular trumpet lessons and the teacher of those regular trumpet lessons would tell you to begin lessons and over a period of time your son would get better. Maybe one year maybe two years who knows. The fact that you're going to be paying $40 or $50 a week or $200 a month or over $2,000 a year for a couple of years is somewhat of a high risk.
Therefore in this endeavor I developed a course that has a beginning, an end, and is measurable.
This course requires hard work, a commitment and a modest amount of tuition which currently is $997.
It is taught like a College semester class meeting once a week for approximately an hour at a regular day and time.
I tend to teach this by phone in U.S.A. or Skype audio if the student is out of the country and... before covid in person.
I have very very good hearing and able to hear how well or how bad someone is playing over the phone as long as we have a good connection. I'm even able to hear when they are using the wrong technique on the trumpet.
In case you haven't figured out, the 16 week revised upper register course is the number one rated embouchure strengthening course in the world.
This is a very long email but it was easy for me to do because I like talking and I was voice texting. I would reread it again possibly have your son read it.
If he has enough motivation and some personal goals that he would like to achieve on his trumpet and the willingness to work hard and make a commitment then send me an email back and we'll figure out how to get him started on a much better path than what he has been on.
Since 2009 my youngest student that has gone through this course has been 14 years of age. My oldest student has been 88 years of age. And then you have all the various ages in between those two extremes.
It is quite likely your son would achieve considerable success in this 4-month program