SYOS

Beginner Where 'should' it hurt?

Juju_Birdie

Member
Messages
44
I started playing a few months ago and settled on an embouchure whereby my upper teach touch the mouth piece and my lower lip is drawn over the bottom teeth.

I have a significant underbite and my lip gets really sore from the teeth resting on my lip so I've been trying a different embouchure where the lip is more forward and doesn't go over the teeth (it's in the tamingthesaxophone section on embouchures).

My lip isn't sore from my teeth anymore but this technique is really hard on my cheeks and jaw - they get achey and I never had that problem before. Is that to be expected - is it something that will improve over time?
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
498
Yes, jaw/cheek ache will go away as your embouchure muscles strengthen. BTW, once strengthened, lips over teeth should no longer hurt either as the lower lip becomes strong enough that it merely rests on your teeth.

Try practising only until cheek/jaws start to ache then taking a break. You'll make faster progress by having shorter but more frequent practices. Practising when overtired causes bad habits. Your body improves strength when resting as a natural adjustment to slight overwork.
 
OP
Juju_Birdie

Juju_Birdie

Member
Messages
44
Thanks:). I'll persevere with this new technique as my teeth were really cutting in to my lip and I was having trouble talking afterwards (awkward when you try and sneak in a quick practice while working at home and the boss decides to video call you. Probably thinks I'm drinking!)
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
498
I see in another thread you're having trouble getting new reeds. Be aware a Vandoren blue box 2 is more like a Rico 2.5 strength. Plastic reeds are stronger than Rico's of the same number, too.
You need to use a reed at the right strength for your current development. Otherwise you'll tire very quickly, bite or not be able to get any note at all. Too strong a reed will cause bad habits. I started by ordering online 3x Boxes of 3: 1 box each at 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5. Stick to the reed you can play low notes quietly on until you start to find high notes are choking off (because your air support is now strong enough to blow the reed shut).
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
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1,590
I also have a big underbite. Not only do I not tuck my lower lip over my teeth, but I also loosen my jaw. My teeth sit well below the lip and I support the reed with my lip.
Yes, it took some time to develop the strength to do this and I experienced my share of soreness, but you adapt pretty quickly.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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7,872
I can relate to your situation. My lower front teeth are a bit sharp and uneven. I have asked several dentists to help and they have told me they can only remove a small amount of material before damaging the tooth. In college when my lip would begin to get sore I would cut a square from a balloon or a piece of stiff paper and fold it over the teeth which helped. A few years ago a professional told me about Ezo Denture Cushions and I have used those ever since. There may be something similar available where you live. It is a type of strong fabric that is embedded with paraffin wax that when heated in hot water forms exactly to the shape of the teeth. In addition I try to stop practicing when my embouchure gets tired and I start to "bite", and always work to "open my teeth" more when I play.

1590502005310.jpeg
 

Zugzwang

Member
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572
Hiyah, lip and cheek muscles absolutely will get tired, unless you were previously a professional whistler or some such... but 'jaw hurting' is different .... jaw muscles are tremendously strong - you certainly won't need to build them up.
However, it can be difficult to relax the jaw. Try going for the 'slack-jawed total fool' look, then just ease your jaw up far enough to keep the drool in, and make your lips and cheek muscles do the work.
nb make sure you only try this in private....
 
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Juju_Birdie

Juju_Birdie

Member
Messages
44
Thanks for all the responses. I can guarantee that shielding fabric won't be available here. My teacher did recommend a similar approach using cigarette papers! But I will persevere and hope that the cheek pain eases. Useful info re comparative reed strength too:)
 

ESJohn

Member
Messages
190
I have a tendency to set my lower teeth too far back behind the lip and so I've been attempting to bring them a little closer to the front. It works pretty well but it has to be a conscious effort. It also keeps me from pressing too hard. An hour is about as long as I practice and I have ice water available. We are enjoying hearing about your progress!
 
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Juju_Birdie

Juju_Birdie

Member
Messages
44
I was going to talk to my teacher yesterday but he forgot about our lesson in the excitement of getting ready for his first gig since lockdown. Just as well as I was squeaking like a trapped rodent yesterday. Lots of muffled notes too. I think trying a new technique when I've just changed mouthpieces is possibly a bad idea but I will keep trying!
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
498
There's good advice over in an older thread on embouchure, head angle etc:
 

ESJohn

Member
Messages
190
Just a follow up. As I had mentioned, I fight my tendency to pull my lower lip too far back. I was concerned that it could cause problems by damaging the tissue over time. When visiting the dentist today, I asked him if playing the sax can damage the gum. He stated that the gum is resilient and not to worry. He did mention that damage to any of the front teeth can set a person back in his playing ability even after the tooth would be rebuilt or capped.
 

Nikki

Formerly SaxyNikki
Subscriber
Messages
716
There's good advice over in an older thread on embouchure, head angle etc:
I think head angle is so underrated when it comes to discussing strengthening up the embouchure. Yes of course practice strengthens the muscles but mouth placement , posture and head angle play such significant parts in not only getting a nicer tone but makes it easier to get one. Posture and proper breathing are essential factors in producing beautiful sounds yet so understated.
 
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