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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My embouchure is so broke, I've had problems deciding where to begin...

for the past few months I've been trying to get into the rolled out lip embouchure. I can play great and all, but it seems when I do long tones, after a while I accidentally start using my cheeks somehow involuntarily. I get a dimple on the side and it feels like I'm not building lip strength at all, but rather I'm building my cheeks. I don't think this is correct, but I can't seem to play without it happening.

Should I be using my cheek muscles?
If not, what could I do to seperate my lips and cheeks? (Not literally)
 

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No, they are not. You must remove them every time before you play.

(Sorry, but you gave it to me.) :D


Anyway, before starting to comment on the cheeks, what do you mean by "... the rolled out lip embouchure"? Are you pursing your lips as in a pucker kiss when you play?
 

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I'm a student of the lip under, no puffed cheeks, Teal style. Dimples, as in too tight cheeks,(no comments please), doesn't worry me a lot. Then again, look at Dizzy's cheeks! WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU- If you have a good tone, good intonation, can play in time, and swing, (in any style), and can read well, you are a great musician in my book!
 

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Although I'm firmly entrenched in the Teal model for embouchure, I know that Joe Allard taught that the jaw muscles are the muscle group most involved. It sounds to me that your jaw muscles are not involved, and that's why you're having trouble.
 

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When I smile I have dimples.
when i pull in the sides of my mouth as in when forming an embouchre i have dimples. and i am unable to form one without dimples no matter how light or tight my embouchre is.
My guess is it is just the muscle structure in my face. and yours may be the same.
Some have dimples some don't. But hey chicks dig em:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
gary said:
Anyway, before starting to comment on the cheeks, what do you mean by "... the rolled out lip embouchure"? Are you pursing your lips as in a pucker kiss when you play?
Not really pursing my lips, but definately forward enough to not be resting on my teeth. I guess it's not really rolled out, but standing straight up. Imagine (or do it) sucking on your thumb, but with more up/down pressure.

As for the dimple being only on one side... well... it seems I've been playing crooked since I started... one of my front 2 teeth is slightly lower than the other. So for it to feel right, I've been playing with the mouthpiece slightly tilted to the right, and coming into my mouth at an angle without even knowing it :shock: !
 

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LazySaxman said:
Not really pursing my lips, but definately forward enough to not be resting on my teeth. I guess it's not really rolled out, but standing straight up. Imagine (or do it) sucking on your thumb, but with more up/down pressure.

As for the dimple being only on one side... well... it seems I've been playing crooked since I started... one of my front 2 teeth is slightly lower than the other. So for it to feel right, I've been playing with the mouthpiece slightly tilted to the right, and coming into my mouth at an angle without even knowing it :shock: !
A bit like what Linus is doing in your avatar?
 

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I've seen videos of Stan Getz (who makes arguably one of the nicest sounds on tenor) playing with puffed cheeks.
In your case, I wouldn't worry about puff cheeks too much. As long as you get the sound you want.
In my case, I was taught the Teal method, single lip (no puff cheeks) by my clarinet teacher and have been using it for sax. I tried the double lip but found it too uncomfortable and difficult.
 

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Ihoffman, that's interesting seeing that video. I almost wonder, though, if a persons face becomes more like their embouchure as they get older. You look at older guys (That's 30+ :D ) and their faces are starting to become looser and "sag" a bit, and there's less difference between their normal face, and their embouchure. But if you look at high school/college kids and there's a big change between face and embouchure. If I try to keep my face relatively unchanged, there is NO WAY I could play. But again, the older guys have a lot more experience and may just be more comfortable...

Interestingly enough, I don't have dimples when I smile...
I'm not puffing my cheeks...

I've begun thinking that my mouthpiece is very hard blowing, and I have to tighten my cheeks to keep them from goin' like Dizzy. When I just "pretend" like I'm playing, it's all fine and dandy, but when I get to blowing, I really have to tighten up...



:dontknow:
 

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LazySaxman said:
Ihoffman, that's interesting seeing that video. I almost wonder, though, if a persons face becomes more like their embouchure as they get older. You look at older guys (That's 30+ :D ) and their faces are starting to become looser and "sag" a bit, and there's less difference between their normal face, and their embouchure. But if you look at high school/college kids and there's a big change between face and embouchure. If I try to keep my face relatively unchanged, there is NO WAY I could play. But again, the older guys have a lot more experience and may just be more comfortable...

Interestingly enough, I don't have dimples when I smile...
I'm not puffing my cheeks...

I've begun thinking that my mouthpiece is very hard blowing, and I have to tighten my cheeks to keep them from goin' like Dizzy. When I just "pretend" like I'm playing, it's all fine and dandy, but when I get to blowing, I really have to tighten up...

:dontknow:
This is hard territory for those of us whose faces have come to resemble their embouchures . . . I can't even bear to talk about it:shock:

I do know several people who look exactly like their dogs, and I'll talk about that forever.:D
 

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LazySaxman, I wonder if you're not pinching as your embouchure gets tired when you're doing your long tones. If you are, that could be one reason for the dimples.

I asked about the pucker, because when I puckered (which IMO would be rolling out too much) and then tightened that pucker, I got dimples.

BTW, I don't think the dimples in and of themselves are harmful,, but if they are not normally there when you play and then they start showing up if you're getting tired, struggling or whatever, then they might be an indication of something wrong. Also - we can quote exceptions to the rule all night long. IMO that is not helpful when you're trying to get a good solid foundation.
 

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LazySaxman said:
My embouchure is so broke, I've had problems deciding where to begin...
Have you tried your teacher?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've talked a bit about it with my teacher, he doesn't really care much what I do, as long as I sound good and am not in pain ;) Unfortunately, he has been away, and I haven't had a lesson in about a month, which is when I usually develop bad habits, or start to worry about things (when I don't have assigned music to work on, I get bored). Also, he uses a rolled in lip, so he hasn't had much to say. As soon as he gets back, I plan to get a lesson in.
 

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The one word answer to the question starting your thread is a resounding yes.

The powerful muscle that goes around the circumference of the mouth is called the obicularis oris muscle. It is this muscle that contracts like a "drawstring" around the mouthpiece that: seals the mouth around the mouthpiece and reed, controls the reed's vibrations, and connects the player to the instrument. The cheeks also have large strong muscles that attach to the ring of muscles around the mouth. It is these muscles that when contracted enable us to smile. It is the tension created by these two sets of opposing muscles that enables a strong embouchure to develop which produces a controlled and focused sound.

The sax (and clarinet) embouchure is usually taught as a tug-of-war between the "smile" and "pucker" muscles. In my teaching the pucker muscles are a bit stronger on the sax resulting in the corners of the mouth being pushed in more against the sides of the reed (ie. the "OO's" win the tug-of-war). This has to involve the cheek muscles giving opposing tension as these corner muscles are pushed in. In my opinion the only reason we tell beginning students not to "puff the cheeks" is that in order to do so they have to completely relax the muscles in the corners of the mouth. Obviously Dizzy has found a way to keep his corners firm and puff the cheeks at the same time.

What follows is only my opinion for what it is worth and many here on SOTW will disagree, BUT----If I were a 15 year old student having to post on SOTW about a broken embouchure, I would strongly consider becoming a much more accomplished (and mature) player using a more traditional lip rolled over the teeth embouchure FIRST before venturing out to play with the more unconventional "lip out" embouchure. Some would call this response "Dogmatic", I prefer to think of it as "Pragmatic". ;)

John

P.S. If anyone wants to learn more about the physiological aspects of embouchures, I recommend "The Art of Brass Playing" by Phillip Farkas. A great deal of the information he writes applies directly to saxophone and clarinet embouchures.
 

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jbtsax said:
The one word answer to the question starting your thread is a resounding yes.
If I were a 15 year old student having to post on SOTW about a broken embouchure, I would strongly consider .. using a more traditional lip rolled over the teeth embouchure FIRST before venturing out to play with the more unconventional "lip out" embouchure. Some would call this response "Dogmatic", I prefer to think of it as "Pragmatic". ;)
Hi jbt! On this occasion I'm delighted (and possibly slightly relieved ;) ) to find I agree with you. Pragmatic on this one. Yes. 100%. ;) :)
 

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RootyTootoot said:
Hi jbt! On this occasion I'm delighted (and possibly slightly relieved ;) ) to find I agree with you. Pragmatic on this one. Yes. 100%. ;) :)
I agree too. It took me years to build up the strength in the embouchure to get that rolled-out lip thing to work.
 

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jbtsax said:
The one word answer to the question starting your thread is a resounding yes.

The powerful muscle that goes around the circumference of the mouth is called the obicularis oris muscle. It is this muscle that contracts like a "drawstring" around the mouthpiece that: seals the mouth around the mouthpiece and reed, controls the reed's vibrations, and connects the player to the instrument. The cheeks also have large strong muscles that attach to the ring of muscles around the mouth. It is these muscles that when contracted enable us to smile. It is the tension created by these two sets of opposing muscles that enables a strong embouchure to develop which produces a controlled and focused sound.

The sax (and clarinet) embouchure is usually taught as a tug-of-war between the "smile" and "pucker" muscles. In my teaching the pucker muscles are a bit stronger on the sax resulting in the corners of the mouth being pushed in more against the sides of the reed (ie. the "OO's" win the tug-of-war). This has to involve the cheek muscles giving opposing tension as these corner muscles are pushed in. In my opinion the only reason we tell beginning students not to "puff the cheeks" is that in order to do so they have to completely relax the muscles in the corners of the mouth. Obviously Dizzy has found a way to keep his corners firm and puff the cheeks at the same time.

What follows is only my opinion for what it is worth and many here on SOTW will disagree, BUT----If I were a 15 year old student having to post on SOTW about a broken embouchure, I would strongly consider becoming a much more accomplished (and mature) player using a more traditional lip rolled over the teeth embouchure FIRST before venturing out to play with the more unconventional "lip out" embouchure. Some would call this response "Dogmatic", I prefer to think of it as "Pragmatic". ;)

John

P.S. If anyone wants to learn more about the physiological aspects of embouchures, I recommend "The Art of Brass Playing" by Phillip Farkas. A great deal of the information he writes applies directly to saxophone and clarinet embouchures.
Thank you! This is just what I was looking for (and you didn't even make any "cheek" jokes ;) ). Good to know that I can keep my embouchure exactly how it is and I'm not doing it wrong.

Aha.
 
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