From time to time you may have brass students complaining about not being able to get the notes out very easily – especially the soft parts. Most likely it’s because of “stiff lips.” This inflexibilty can lead to problems like airy sounding notes, need to play loud to get anything out, and difficulty playig acturately in the upper register.
Here are a few tips on how to help your brass players:
- Ask them to practice softly when they get home
- Ask them to buzz the mouthpiece
- Flapping your lips like a horse
- Put a warm wash cloth on your face
- Brush your teeth
- Try lip ointment to relax your lips
- Practice for a few minutes and then take a break for a few minutes
A few of these tips need a little more explaination, so here goes:
One of the reasons students get in this jam because they over taxed their lips by playing too loud. So, if you got there by playing too loud, play softly to reverse the effect. Very softly. Start with long tones on and easy note. At times the note should be so soft that it even might drop off for a second.
Flapping Lips Like Horse
It’s funny, but it works, and the lower the sound you make the greater the benefit.
Brush Your Teeth
There’s something about the minty tingling and the brush against your lips that tends to sooth your lips. try it at the end of a practice session, so your lips feel relaxed and suple when you play again.
Lip ointment can provide the same kind of relief as tooth brushing… unless you’re allergic those healing medicines in the ointment. If your recommend this to your students just don’t do it right before a concert. Their lips might puff up, and they’ll be sitting on the sidelines, completely unable to play.