Date: Mon, 9 Mar 1998 19:50:40 -0600 (CST)
From: Michael D Myers <>
Subject: Re: Vibration of Lips

On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, Jeanne G Pocius wrote:
> Err, Rune:
>       Slight disagreement on which of the lips vibrates more...>Try a simple test:
>       1  Buzz your lips
>       2  Stop the buzzing of first the upper lip(by holding it, but  not the lower lip)
>       3  Repeat number 2, but this time stop the lower lip....
>       I think you'll discover that the lower lip will continue to buzz
> strongly when the upper lip is stopped, but that the upper lip
> will NOT buzz as strongly when the lower lip is buzzed...
>       Imho, the lower lip is the most important for vibration, the upper lip for endurance and clarity....

> Rune Aleksandersen wrote:
> >
> > Hi Des,
> <%SNIP>
> > The idea of the Stevens-Costello method is that the teeth (lips)
> > should be reasonably aligned, so that both lips are exposed to air at
> > all times. For the lips to vibrate, they must receive air. Especially
> > the top lip, which does most of the vibrating. <%SNIP>

> > A little more weight is on the bottom lip,
> > freeing the top lip a litte for easier vibrations.

> Careful!  Remember that the lower lip needs to be capable of
> movement, and thus should not be *locked down*, whereas the upper
> lip, which (due to anatomy) has less capacity for movement, is
> the logical point for an anchor.

> >Find out what works the best for you.
> Great advice!
> > (A forward jaw is part of the Costello method.)
> One of the reasons I do not thoroughly advocate the
> Costello-Stevens system....
> Take Care!
> Jeannie


I think Rune may be right here.  I was at a Phil Smith Masterclass where he talked briefly about the importance of mouthpiece placement - keeping the mouthpiece rim "above the red of the upper lip.  This is because the upper lip is the the key to a good sound.  In order to vibrate/buzz properly, lower lip relies on a vibrating upper lip. Try this experiment that Phil demonstrated for us....

1. Free buzz comfortably, and while doing this roll a pencil slowly from your chin up until it comes in contact with your Lower lip, thus stopping it from vibrating.

2. Now repeat, but roll the pencil down from under your nose until it comes in contact with your Upper lip, thus stopping it from vibrating.

You should notice that with 1., your Upper lip keeps vibrating (even if you bring it all the way to the top of the Lower lip.  With 2. all vibrations stop, thus the embouchure shuts down.  This is because the... This is also why one should try to equalize pressure between the lips. Most people put way too much pressure on the upper lip. Phil said that the more upper lip you are able to get inside the rim of the mouthpiece, the better the sound that will result.

- -Mike Myers