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I'm 54. I can practice tenor every other day just fine, but my lower lip on the inside hurts a bit if I try to practice daily. Any ideas? Usually I just play 40-60 minutes at a time. thx..
 

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Two things. First and most important, this is a sign you are likely biting too hard which not only will make you lower lip sore but will also result in a thin tone and difficulty with intonation. Second, with regular practice your lip will develop a resistance to this, but only if you ease up and relax your embouchure.

One exercise that will help (and this is an exercise only, not the way to play normally) is to practice playing with your top teeth lifted slightly up off the mpc; that will prevent you from biting at all. It's not the way to play normally because you lose a certain amount of control, but after practicing this and getting a feel for 'not biting,' you can then place your teeth gently on top of the mpc and play with a more relaxed embouchure.
 

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I play with my lower lip slightly rolled out. It's against the bottom teeth but not directly over them. What holds the lip there is a combination of the support from the teeth and the muscles around the bottom lip. I can play for many hours with no problem as far as biting the lip. This is how I teach my students to play also. Steve
 

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I have relatively sharp and jagged lower sharp teeth so I can feel your pain---literally. :) You don't need to change your embouchure. Lots of players play with their lower lip rolled back just enough to cover the teeth. See Larry Teal's "The Art of Saxophone Playing" or Eugene Rousseau's Steps to Excellence videos. A professional woodwind player turned me on to these and it has made my life much easier. You cut an oval patch as shown in the picture and hold it under hot tap water a few seconds. That makes the wax malleable so you can form the cushion over your lower teeth. It makes a custom fit and retains its shape. I don't use these all the time, but when I am out of shape and forced to practice several hours a day to prepare for a gig they come in handy.

View attachment 214806
 

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You don't need to change your embouchure. Lots of players play with their lower lip rolled back just enough to cover the teeth.
If the OP is biting too hard, then I would suggest he does need to change his embouchure in terms of how tightly he is pushing up with the lower jaw. Biting too hard will cause problems whether or not you roll your lip over your teeth. I do roll my lower lip part way over my teeth but can play for hours without any lip pain because I keep my embouchure relatively loose. There was a time when I did bite too hard and I had the same problem the OP describes; so I know this from experience.

Of course if you have unusually sharp lower teeth, that's a separate issue. In that case the Ezo things might be a solution. Better yet I'd bet a dentist could sand those teeth down a bit. But I don't know that for certain.
 

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My lower lip hurt for years and then my dentist lightly filed my sharp lower teeth - what a difference! I should have done that years earlier.
 

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I've been playing a tenor for 5 years and I curl my lower lip over the teeth. This is the way I was taught to play clarinet. So I use the same method for the tenor. Is this the correct way?
I've seen quite a few professionals with the lower lip protruding out and some with the lip curved.
Which is the right way?
 

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Bottom line, its whatever works for you, BUT on sax you generally would not want to use the very rolled-back clarinet embouchure. On sax, you typically have the lower lip more forward with a looser embouchure. So, you probably work on this change as well as shortening your practices to 30 minutes until you get toughened-up.
 

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A careful reading of the first post indicates that there is no problem when he plays every other day, just when he practices every day. The inside of the lower lip is soft tissue that can become slightly abraded and irritated even when playing with "proper" embouchure. Resting a day in between allows the tissue to heal so that the following day there is no problem. Over time with lots of practice the tissue can toughen up a bit and allow longer practice sessions and practicing every day for a reasonable length of time.

I play and teach both saxophone and clarinet, and the clarinet embouchure has less lip covering the bottom teeth than the saxophone---not more. It is correct that the clarinet which plays at the top of its mouthpiece pitch requires a tighter embouchure than the saxophone which plays somewhere in the middle of its mouthpiece pitch. Jazz players generally play with a looser embouchure than do classical players as a general rule, but there are exceptions.
 

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I second the EZO suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the ideas; good points! I'll try that re lip placement to experiment. Interesting re ezo; thx...I just ordered a pack on amazon, just $6 .... anecdote: forty years ago as lead alto in jazz band I got the nickname 'cottonmouth' in school because I used a cotton ball in my mouth to cover lower teeth (it worked great btw).... saxoclese exactly right re diagnosis; that's whats happening. thx JL re exercise; I'll try it.

forty years playing; sheesh time flies! sax is the only constant in life; here's to that great instrument :)
 

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I wrote a post that may be helpful it's called The Magic Of The Neck Strap (Tip for beginner and intermediate players). Try raising your neck strap so the mouthpiece is equally suspended between upper and lower lips and teeth. This also helps to avoid having too much weight on the right thumb as well. Play a few notes while testing and find the "Sweet Spot" strap height. As you raise the the horn slightly you should feel less contact on the lower portion of the embouchure that is causing lower lip pain. Hopefully this will help.
 

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As mentioned above there are several possibilities from biting to uneven teeth. My observation is that when I take time off from daily playing, my bottom lip gets sore for a bit when I get back into it. If folks think back to when they first started, I'll bet almost everyone had a sore lip.

Assuming you have a decent embouchure etc., you may still get sore if you don't play much. So....

The way to stop your lip from hurting when you practice daily is to practice daily.

When I first started gigging 4-5 shows a week my lip was killing me. After a few weeks or so, not so much. After a month or two - never.
 

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Like Fader I played many 5-6 nite shows. Coming off a lay-off first nite is a bitch, then worse second nite (ice is your friend), I always played through the feeling and usually by third night all was well I could play indefinitely no pain.

Play daily your lip shouldn't hurt.
 

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If it fits your schedule, break the practice sessions up into 2-3 segments of 20-30 minutes each.
If not, please disregard the suggestion.
 

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Haven't seen this in the suggestions above, so I'll offer it. Used to do it in college when I was playing a lot. Cut a short piece of first aid tape and fold it over your lower front two teeth. Makes a bit of a cushion. Cheap solution.
 

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I always believe that a problem with the embouchure is the result of not good air support.
Biting lower leap could indicate no proper air support, too open mouthpiece or too hard reed. By biting you are actually closing the tip making it easier to play.
So most important would be to work on your air support. If not, use a softer reed or get a smaller tip mouthpiece.
 

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The way to stop your lip from hurting when you practice daily is to practice daily.
+1. This is a given.

Also, bandmommy's suggestion to take breaks during your practice session is a very good one. For lots of reasons, including saving your lip.
 

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All good advice already posted. I taught embouchure very successfully by having the player use a "double lip" embouchure like an oboist. Stay in the low and middle range at first. Play a simple melody double lip then immediately play it again with normal single lip and try to match tone and pitch. The correct muscles will come into play quickly. The only time I had to resort to EZO was playing the circus but that was 9 hours a day!
 

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I'm 54. I can practice tenor every other day just fine, but my lower lip on the inside hurts a bit if I try to practice daily. Any ideas? Usually I just play 40-60 minutes at a time. thx..
I wonder if you started on clarinet. If so, clarinet embouchure is very different from saxophone embouchure. You are obviously biting down on the mouthpiece if your lower lip is getting sore. Mine gets sore after 15 minutes on clarinet because I haven't played much in years. No problem on sax. So, relax. Don't bite.
 
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