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I recently saw a George Garzone video where he said that the first thing he has his students do is start playing with the bottom lip out instead of the bottom lip in covering the bottom teeth.

I noticed that my sound got so much bigger with the lip out that I pretty much can't stand the way I sound with the bottom lip in as I've been doing since I started on the horn over 20 years ago.

The downside to this new approach is that I'm having a hard time controlling my sound on certain notes, and if my chops are a bit tired, I find myself squeaking on the high/palm key notes.

I'm curious to know if you have any advice or experience on the topic of playing with the lower lip out.

Thanks!
 

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I just watched that Rico video yesterday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMgyckoveRw . The part about playing with the lip out was good advice -- that lip-in produces a focused sound favored in classical music but that to play jazz you need a big broad sound, which is what lip-out gives you. Unfortunately he didn't go any further and demonstrate or give advice on perfecting that for people not used to doing it.

However, I remember reading a number of threads where people discussed the ins and outs (so to speak) of that embouchure. I think it is all about using the lower lip as a pad to support the reed but not press it like the tendency is with the lip over the teeth. To do that requires strengthening the muscle in that lip because it has to take over the support job that the teeth do when you play lip-over.

People suggested a number of exercises for that, one of which is to place the very end of a pen between your lips and alternately raise it horizontally and hold it in that position and then lower it. Kind of like lip lifts which you can do while reading or driving for example. Also, you can start out with a thin pen and work up to something heavier like a fat sharpie marker. The lazy among us can just get collagen implanted and get a killer lower lip without wasting time on exercises. Plus they can look like Angelina in the bargain. :bluewink:

The other thing he talked about -- articulation with the fingers rather than the tongue-- was thought provoking and not totally clear to me, but I don't want to hijack your thread so maybe I'll post another to ask about it.
 

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I used to really curl my lip in and my teeth kept cutting the inside of it. It was a real problem (abraided and cut skin) and I needed to use a tooth guard made from Ezo denture material (credits to AltoRuth for that suggestion). However, since I consciously began working on playing with my lip out, I no longer need to use the Ezo tooth guard even when I play for 2 or 3 hours. So that is another benefit of this style of embouchure.
 

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There is a similar video that Bergonzi did on embouchure where he talks about ' no embouchure , embouchure ' You basically offer the sax to your mouth without doing anything with your bottom lip ( apart from opening them !) .

This is more of a lip out than over the teeth and is how I play too .
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I'm a late bloomer and pretty much a beginner, but here are my 2 cents. 30+ years ago I learned the "classical way" with lip over teeth. 4 months ago I started playing again and watched a video of Dexter Gordon with pretty much lip out. So I started practicing that way and my chops got real tired. Then I modified it to just a little bit of inner lip over my teeth. 2 months ago I started taking lessons and my instructor keeps reminding me to take "more lip in". It just doesn't feel comfortable with my lip "in", so I continue with the modified "just a bit of inner lip over teeth". Last week, when we played a piece together, she asked if I had my lip more out than in and I said yes. Then she said my tone/vibrato was really good and she couldn't believe that more of my lip was not over my teeth.
 

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I've recently changed quite a few things about how I produce my sound, as I've been playing a mpc which forced me to do so.

It all started with this video of Don Menza :


Lots of good info in this video, but the one thing that really caught my attention is that he said he would go out and watch what people were doing with their mouth and throat and try to copy it. So that's what I started doing with these two examples as reference and a Charlie Rouse video (in which you can see his throat bulging) :





I don't think "bottom lip out" is exactly what's going on. IMO Garzone uses this term in the context of students rolling their bottom lip in, hence he has them put it out. If you do the "sad face" bottom lip out, that's too much and is not at all what Escoffery, Dex and many other do.



Although it is just a preview, this guy explains it right :


The mpc should literally "rest" on your bottom lip. There shouldn't be too much tension on that bottom lip as it will kill the reed's vibrations. Also you should close your jaw as little as possible. One thing that helped me is put to mirrors and place them so I can watch myself from the side.

From here on, if you start using this new embouchure, you'll have to work some muscles you're not used to which will take some time. You'll need to build up some strength. Also, you won't be able to rely on your lip as much for adjustments. In a nutshell, your throat, diaphragm and tongue will take a much greater role in sound producing. A great practice trick to develop this is to play very soft long tones while pushing as much air as possible with your diaphragm (belly) and feeling a focused air stream going through your teeth ( tongue shape ). Once you're starting to really get a huge tone at soft volume and it feels like you're pushing so much air you're almost going to crap yourself and your throat is so open it makes you yawn ( ty jc by the way ), keep the same thing going on but play louder and cry in amazement at how big and resonant your sound has become.Repeat and improve over a period of 6 months.

Contrary to what everyone seems to be preaching, taking less mouthpiece in seems to be helping. I wonder whether or not when I get used to the new embouchure I will start taking more in again or if having less lip curled in means I actually am taking more mpc in already and to be in the same spot as before I have to take less. Oh, and that's another good exercise : take as little mpc in as possible and try to produce a tone as big as possible. This will force you to use the right muscles.

I'm still at the beginning of that procedure and it's easy to fall back into bad habits so what I do is each time I take a break and come back on the horn, I make sure I still have it right. It also throws my intonation off as I don't rely as much on my lips to make adjustments and I clearly had to push the mouthpiece further in on the neck...
 

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I have a question…

I understand a the idea of a greater or lesser amount of lower lip over the bottom teeth but I don't understand the idea of no lip at all over the bottom teeth.

How would one do a jaw vibrato if the teeth were not in contact with the lip?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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How would one do a jaw vibrato if the teeth were not in contact with the lip?
Exactly the same way, but you do need good lip muscles.. The vibrato pulses are transmitted through the lip muscle.

You can try this without the saxophone. Just open your mouth, press down on your lower lip (not curled over the teeth but keep it fairly firm) with a finger and say "yah yah yah". You will find it's possible to move your finger by doing that.
 

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Exactly the same way, but you do need good lip muscles.. The vibrato pulses are transmitted through the lip muscle. You can try this without the saxophone. Just open your mouth, press down on your lower lip (not curled over the teeth but keep it fairly firm) with a finger and say "yah yah yah". You will find it's possible to move your finger by doing that.

Interesting…that would seem to require a lot more muscle tension than I'm used to.
 

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Interesting…that would seem to require a lot more muscle tension than I'm used to.
Yes, if your lip is over your teeth, it is not really actively needing to do as much. The "push" is coming from the teeth and the lip is acting more as a cushion. Not totally, but not as much as when the teeth are out of the way. It obviously has to be more tense and do more muscle work.
 

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Interesting…that would seem to require a lot more muscle tension than I'm used to.
You can always have your lower lip Angelina-ized. You'll then have enough lip tension to vibrate a 2X4.:kermit:

Stills from Angelina's Rico Reeds Embouchure video.



 

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Yes, if your lip is over your teeth, it is not really actively needing to do as much. The "push" is coming from the teeth and the lip is acting more as a cushion. Not totally, but not as much as when the teeth are out of the way. It obviously has to be more tense and do more muscle work.
Anyone know how this squares with Joe Allard's thinking? The things I've read led me to believe he espoused using the lower lip as a cushion between the teeth and reed and that the jaw controls the reed, not the lip.

The degree of muscle tension required for the lower lip to control the reed during vibrato (while being completely out and not touching the teeth) would seem to be problematic, at least for me.
 

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I'd explain this concept but I'd likely get shot down by the experts on the forum. If you want a good explanation on what George is talking about google Joe Allard. You'll find a link to a website with a good written explanation of his teaching. If you can find someone who teaches this method it would be even better. There is a lot of confusion about lip out and what actually controls the reed in this style of playing.
 

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I think mouthpiece only drills will help you adjust. I use varying degrees of lip out. The more tired I am the more I roll in. When my lip is out more I still find that the teeth add some level of resistance. I use the shape of my throat, tongue and soft pallet to change pitch and colors. I take in more mouthpiece to play loud and bright and less to play soft and dark. I use a O shape in my tongue and soft pallet to play focused and more of an oval for more spread.
 

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I'd explain this concept but I'd likely get shot down by the experts on the forum. If you want a good explanation on what George is talking about google Joe Allard. You'll find a link to a website with a good written explanation of his teaching. If you can find someone who teaches this method it would be even better. There is a lot of confusion about lip out and what actually controls the reed in this style of playing.
Yes, it was from that website that I got the idea that Allard espoused bottom lip between the teeth and reed.

George Garzone (in the video linked above) speaks about "releasing" the lower lip as opposed to the classical approach of rolling it back over the teeth. But he doesn't say that there's no lip at all over the teeth, so I'm more curious about that. I had always assumed it was a matter of degree.
 

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But he doesn't say that there's no lip at all over the teeth, so I'm more curious about that. I had always assumed it was a matter of degree.
What "lip out" usually means, I believe, is more like "lip upwards". In other words, I don't consciously roll my lip out, but instead of folding it back over the teeth, I try to make it just go straight up in front of the teeth, ie parallel to them. The pressure (which can and often should be quite small) up onto the reed will cause the flattening of the lip, and so appear to be rolling forward (but may also flatten in back into the mouth.

In other words if you think of the lip in profile, it is more or less pointing straight up, like the letter "I". The pressure on the reed causes it to become a "T".

This way is very versatile as you can quickly revert to lip back if you need more pressure, e.g. for some altissimo.
 

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W


This way is very versatile as you can quickly revert to lip back if you need more pressure, e.g. for some altissimo.
So pleased that someone has finally mentioned altissimo.
I have been watching this thread with increasing anxiety as I tend not to curl my lip back, but play, as you appear to suggest, with a natural lip position.
I have been wondering how the proponents of this method manage altissimo... as I have to tighten up considerably for that.
Good, so now I know....natural relaxed lip position except for altissimo.
Please tell me that I am not wrong.
 
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