Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 13:52:59 -0500
From: Jeanne G Pocius <>
Subject: Re: Vibration of Lips

Okay, folks!

        I should never post when I'm in a rush(so I probably shouldn't even do so today), and so far this week has been an absolute zoo!....

        I've spent some more time experimenting with various types of buzzes, and agree that it is possible to buzz with either lip, when the other lip is stopped, but the quality of the buzz is

       I'll comment below on Mike's post(line-by-line):

Michael D Myers wrote:

> 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.

No disagreement here, in fact, I believe the upper lip is key to endurance and range as well as sound center....

> In order to vibrate/buzz properly, lower lip relies on a vibrating  upper lip.

In middle and upper range, yes, not so in lower and pedal range, imho...

> 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.

Actually, my buzz was able to continue both ways.....Perhaps Rune's thought about those who play lead trumpet may have something to do with this....

> This is also why one should try to equalize pressure between the lips.
> Most people put way too much pressure on the upper lip.

I think that most, or perhaps I should say *many* trumpeters use altogether too much pressure on the lips period!

> 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.

Sort of depends on the relative size and thickness of BOTH lips, and the length of the muscular portion of the upper lip(from the base of the nose to the *red* or membrane of that lip...)

One exercise that I often use with students unsure of upper rim placement is to have them place the outside of the upper rim at the base of the nose and roll the mpc down 'til it contacts both lips....applying an inward roll of either lip(if necessary) ensures that both lips are within the rim of the mouthpiece.....

I DO adhere to the idea that the lips both need to be free to vibrate, though I believe that as long as the upper rim of the mouthpiece is set into the *white* (muscle) of the upper lip, the membrane(*red*) will be free enough to vibrate....

One final clarification: I don't advocate thrusting the jaw forward to play because of the possibility of developing pathology of the jaw(tendonitis is a real risk for joints which are stressed when extended)

Hope this has helped to clarify my position....
- --
Take Care!