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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys -

I'm sitting here with a student. He's having some lip pain/sensitivity that doesn't seem to be from teeth cutting. We have ruled out simple dehydration, or so it seems. The bottom lip becomes red and swollen where the reed hits, once to point of bleeding - and after a somewhat short amount of playing time.

He's using cane reeds, and doesn't seem particularly tight or loose. It's also an issue (although not to the same degree) with his top lip.

Anybody ever encounter something similar?
 

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is this student new?
maybe his skin is having a reaction to the reed,,, ask a dermatologist is all i can say ;o
 

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I've heard of allergies to the pesticides used in the production of the arundo donax cane. Several manufactures--Gonlazes comes to mind--tout their use of pesticide-free cane, so that might be worth a try, or a legere synthetic.
JR
 

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It's possible that he might even have an allergy to the reed.

I recall Josh Musselwhite's article in Saxophone Journal a few years ago describing his terrible allergy to cane reeds. Now plays on synthetic just fine. In the article, he described the symptoms, and it seemed very uncomfortable.

Thanks to BronzZoot for finding the exact SJ issue (scroll down a bit).

Angel
 

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I had/have the same problem. It is similar to someone who has to use a gold plated head joint on flute because they are allergic to nickel.

If it is a allergic reaction, Gonzalez reeds could be the solution. It either has something to do with the pesticides that Gonzalez does NOT use or it is what the cane is drawing out of the ground. Arundo donax both helps and hurts the environment. It destroys riparian regions (plants that that grow next to water ways for several reasons, which I won't go into here), but pulls pollutants from the ground/air as well. So, it may be that the degree of pollution in France is greater or different than South America OR its the pesticides.

Going to the dermatologist may or may not help. When I went to mine, he just looked at me funny and said you'll have to try some other reeds and the synthetic ones. He claimed that it was possible, but that he had never heard of that happening before. Obviously it does!

Try google. I have found documents that claim coating the reed in various ointments will help. I found this a pain. It didn't last long, didn't really work, and my reeds didn't really like it.

Good luck to your student. I'd say try Gonzalez first. They may only help the severity of the reaction. I still get a reaction after playing for extremely long periods of time, but the Gonzalez reeds really do help.
 

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One thing I forgot...

The guy who Angel mentioned has posted here before...

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=26991&highlight=musselwhite

The article he wrote can be found:

Saxophone Journal Volume 30, Number 1, Sept/Oct 2005 Pages 30-31
By the way, in the article the medicine he was given by doctors that was harmful to his lips was the same thing that was given to me. So beware!
 

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If it is an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to the reed cane or something in it, then a similar reaction should occur when holding the reed in a different part of the mouth, or even when held in the hand.

Your student could have a thinning of the mucosa making it more sensitive to the abrasion of the reed for a variety of factors. It could be weather making his lips and skin drier, he could be having some known side effects from something like Accutain, there could be hormonal factors, he could be developing a nervous habit of biting or sucking on his lip...the list is endless.

It may well turn out that you and your student never do come up with a definitive diagnosis or etiology. It could be that you and he come up with a way to manage it and that it eventually goes away on its own. Any treatment, even if only palliative in nature should be put into a risk/benefit analysis.
 

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I have a similar problem from time to time, though it sounds like your student's in much more severe. It has never stopped me from playing, and I only get this problem if I take a day off from playing and then go back to it. I use a girly chap stick with vitamin E in it. I don't know what it's called... I just say "healthy chap stick with vitamin E... you find it in cosmetic stores" to whatever female is handy, and they come back with something that works. The Clinique lip balm thingy worked well, too. Basically, when it comes to taking care of your lips, image conscious women know an awful lot.

OTOH, I had a crummy reaction to Rico reeds that just wouldn't go away. They're just too rough unless I really go at them with reed rush or something to smooth them down.

OTO,OH, if it's a real allergy, I guess the other guys' advice is best.
 

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Hey prodigal,

Any update on your student?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It seems that smalller saxes bother him more. Since he's a bari player at heart, we've got him focusing more on the bigger beast for the time being. He's making an appt to see a doctor. . ..

Thanks for all of the insights, folks.
 
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