Chase Sanborn and Bell’s Palsy

Article by┬áChase Sanborn & Bell’s Palsy When I asked for information on Bell’s Palsy it is because I suddenly find myself afflicted with this nerve disorder. I want to thank those who have offered information and support, and encourage anyone else with information to send it to me. I hope to make this a learning experience and help others who find themselves similarly afflicted. Last Wednesday night I felt great and played a lot. On Thursday morning my chops were un-responsive, which I attributed to too much playing the night before, I put the horn away until the gig that night. At that point, to my amusement and horror, I could not play above a G on the top of the staff without the embouchure collapsing. There were no other symptoms, so it was very puzzling. I got through the gig taking things down one, and in some cases, two […]

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Recovering from Bell’s Palsy

Recovering from Bell’s Palsy by Sherwood H. K. Finley II Bell’s Palsy is a term most brass players have heard about and many rumors abound regarding what its specifics are. Basically, the condition involves paralysis of one side of the face. Cranial nerves enter each side of the face through a small channel in the skull just above each ear. Current medical theory is that a virus causes these nerves to swell and the degree of swelling is the degree of interrupted function, commonly referred to as paralysis. Because the degree of swelling can be variable a wide range of reactions may be noted. In the more severe cases, a drooping of the mouth corner and corresponding eye may make the sufferer appear to have had a stroke. It is of the greatest importance that a neurologist be consulted immediately, this cannot be understated. In my case, I was and […]

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Focal (Embouchure) Dystonia

An article by┬áLucinda-Lewis Copyright 2000. Focal (Embouchure) Dystonia One of the most frustrating and debilitating problems any musician can develop is a focal dystonia. A dystonia is an overuse syndrome which causes a kind of short circuit of motor signals in the suffer’s brain and completely inhibits his physical ability to perform. In a string player or pianist, a finger is often affected. In a brass player, a dystonia can appear in the lip (usually the upper) as an uncontrollable spasm or sneer; or it can present itself as quivering lips in the middle aspect of a player’s range; or it can show up in the jaw, causing the teeth to become uncontrollably clenched as a player begins to play. While some drugs are prescribed for focal dystonias, no cure exists. There are a few physicians who have worked with musicians in retraining the afflicted muscles but with limited success. […]

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I’m getting braces. Help!

While you are wearing your braces the most important thing to remember is to NOT injure your lips. Cuts, tears, bruises ect can lead to scar tissue. Scar tissue is permanent and depending on how severe it is could completely stop you from playing. A less severe case will lead to a bad sound and poor lip slurring ability. There are several ways to hurt your lips while wearing braces. The braces ARE going to PIN the lips in place. In other words they will be locked into position the second that the mouthpiece makes contact with your lips. Moving the mouthpiece around while playing WILL injure your lips. Some players do lots of adjustments after the mouthpiece touches the lips. This is a NO-NO. You need to make sure that the lips are set for the upper register always. You can relax them to play low but you can […]

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My chops are sore after every gig

If your lips feel sore or tired the next day then you bruised them and there is some swelling present. That kind of soreness can only come for excessive mouthpiece pressure. What is normal and acceptable mouthpiece pressure for compressed lips (cushioned) is too much for flattened chops. You would be amazed at how many players set their chops and then unset (thin the lips and spread the embouchure) as they take a breath. This is the case in 75% of the cases that you described. No amount of lip pushups will cure this. Isometrics are only taught by to people who have a viable embouchure. For people who need some embouchure help (fine tuning) the embouchure must be fixed before the gross muscle building program begins. Remember holding a pencil between your lips is not the same as playing. One is for gross muscle building while the other requires […]

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Shaving

Does Shaving affect your playing? There is NO single answer here. It depends on your embouchure (static vs. dynamic) and how sensitive your skin is. I played a static embouchure for years and never shaved. It didn’t bother me at all. But I did use an embouchure shift. When I finally learned how to connect the registers and started using a dynamic embouchure I had to start shaving. The slight difference in the length of the hairs bothered me. I’m 10 times better at playing but I do miss the facial hair. Some people have tougher skin and are never bothered by this. If the act of shaving bothers you change your shaving creme. Pops

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