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#1 2010-08-12 04:03:11

Danny
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2010-05-26
Posts: 32
Website

What's your opinion on the lower lip?

My teacher says to keep the lower lip soft, but after much experimentation and frustration, I'm beginning to think tight(ish) is better. When I keep the lower lip tight, and sort of tucked back farther than the upper lip, I get a much clearer, brighter and louder sound. When I try to keep the lip soft and in line with the upper lip I have a lot of difficulty. I think my air stream gets blown all over the place - ie. not focussed.

Is this something that differs from person to person and/or flute to flute? Am I setting myself up for difficulties later on? My teacher says to anchor the corners of the mouth downwards, and not to do a smile. But I find starting with a light smile to be much more effective. Do you think once a we find an embouchure that produces a loud and clear tone we should just go for it? I wonder what your opionions are?

Thanks

Last edited by Danny (2010-08-12 04:05:48)


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#2 2010-08-12 04:35:15

Christopher B.
Member
From: Berlin, Germany
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 235
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Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

Hey Danny, I dont know how long you play allready but alot of things will change often in your embrouche it will get more effective and more flexible when you keep practice alot. For me it was best to dont think too much about the lip position, I struggled alot while keeping in mind to change it. I noticed that it will change naturally when you have a good foundation from your teacher to work with.

There is no right embrouche (just a simple advice how it should look) it really depends on the person and so on cause every lip is different and individual.

But anyways I am a beginner too and your teachers advice will be the best to work with.


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#3 2010-08-12 10:23:42

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

Danny wrote:

My teacher says to keep the lower lip soft, but after much experimentation and frustration, I'm beginning to think tight(ish) is better.

Better... or easier? Tightening the lower lip can be easier, and although their may be different schools of thought on whether relaxed is better, it looks to me that most, but not all, of the players I like play with a very relaxed lower lip.   

Danny wrote:

When I keep the lower lip tight, and sort of tucked back farther than the upper lip, I get a much clearer, brighter and louder sound. When I try to keep the lip soft and in line with the upper lip I have a lot of difficulty. I think my air stream gets blown all over the place - ie. not focussed.

How much time have you given the relaxed lower lip technique compared with what you came up with on your own?

Danny wrote:

Is this something that differs from person to person and/or flute to flute?

Many here will probably say yes. The differing from person to person aspect I agree with, but like I said before, I've observed that most of the players I like play with a relaxed lower lip. The flute to flute part I'm not sure about. Certainly, shakuhachi with a narrower mouth opening require something different than a wide bore shakuhachi, but I tend to think the muscles you want to engage aren't part of the difference.
     

Danny wrote:

Am I setting myself up for difficulties later on? My teacher says to anchor the corners of the mouth downwards, and not to do a smile. But I find starting with a light smile to be much more effective. Do you think once a we find an embouchure that produces a loud and clear tone we should just go for it? I wonder what your opionions are?

As far as your teacher guiding you to eventually have the ability to play well with a relaxed lower lip, my opinion is that your teacher is right. However, the whole relaxed lower lip thing is an advanced technique, it requires that there already be some decent amount of muscle tone in the facial muscles. Toned muscles are ones that can be engaged by the individual unconsciously, allowing for relaxation. The caveat is that it's really hard to get students to learn how to control muscles they never thought about controlling before.The muscles aren't going to be toned, and the relaxation is going to be difficult to come by.

I'm going to leave aside the question of whether it best just to let the student get a sound any way he or she can for a while before introducing an advanced technique, that's an individual issue for the teacher to deal with. IMO, if your teacher has gotten results by starting students with a relaxed lower lip, go for it.       

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W4RhKFt … -gqc98JE6o


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#4 2010-08-12 13:12:56

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

Hi Danny,
From what you've said it sounds like your teacher may have the right idea. This sort of thing is far better to learn in person, so, as long as your teacher is good and has a good sound, you would probably be better to just follow what your teacher says, and if you have doubts, ask your teacher, and get your teacher to check your embouchure every so often. You know, sometimes a bad embouchure is easier to get a mediocre sound quicker, and sometimes a better embouchure takes time to get right and sound as good as a bad one, but may have greater potential to go beyond to greater limits.

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#5 2010-08-12 17:48:28

geni
Performer & Teacher
From: Boston MA
Registered: 2005-12-21
Posts: 830
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Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

agree with Justin!!

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#6 2010-08-12 20:07:28

Danny
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2010-05-26
Posts: 32
Website

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

Thanks all for your ideas.

radi0gnome wrote:

Better... or easier? Tightening the lower lip can be easier, and although their may be different schools of thought on whether relaxed is better, it looks to me that most, but not all, of the players I like play with a very relaxed lower lip.

I guess easier. I've also noticed in the videos I've watched of professional players a soft lower lip.

radi0gnome wrote:

How much time have you given the relaxed lower lip technique compared with what you came up with on your own?

Every day I practice for about an hour or two. I consciously try to keep my lower lip soft, but get frustrated with an unreliable sound and inevitably return to a tight lip..

radi0gnome wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W4RhKFt -gqc98JE6o

Thanks for posting this - this is the best video for embouchure I've seen yet!

Justin wrote:

You know, sometimes a bad embouchure is easier to get a mediocre sound quicker, and sometimes a better embouchure takes time to get right and sound as good as a bad one, but may have greater potential to go beyond to greater limits.

Yes this is more or less what my teacher said. Cheers.


http://dustymoon.org/

Follow the ancient path / deep into mountains / and go further still..

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#7 2010-08-13 00:26:43

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

You should generally listen to your teacher, and in the long run, you'll end up figuring it all out for yourself. Thing is, you've got
to put in the time--that's where the 'long run' is.

People can tell you what to do with your lower lip all day long, and you've STILL got to put in the time.

Long tones. LOTS of long tones. Every day. And listen to what you're doing when you play them.

Then, more long tones...


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It takes effort to attain nothingness.
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#8 2010-08-13 08:34:12

cy23
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2009-05-09
Posts: 36
Website

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

I had a similar experience in the past. My teacher said I need to "blow more with the belly". I practiced that and now I don't need to tighten my lips anymore (sometimes, but I am still trying :-)). When I do it right, my Jinashi vibrates, the sound is warm and full and much better as with tight lips. Meanwhile tight lips and shrill tunes are a sign to me that i am generally uptight. Then I try to sit more relaxed and empty my head, which usually helps.

Additionally I would like to add Justins "simply do what your teacher" says statement. We pupils are much often not good enough to decide such fundamental things.

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#9 2010-08-13 11:16:00

Danny
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2010-05-26
Posts: 32
Website

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

I think today I've had a break through. After watching the youtube clip posted by radi0gnome in this topic something just clicked and I've been blowing very strong tones with a relaxed lower lip.. it's something about using the muscles in my face above and around my mouth.. not so much the lips themselves.

edosan wrote:

Long tones. LOTS of long tones. Every day. And listen to what you're doing when you play them.

Yes, this is something I need to do more of.

cy23 wrote:

I had a similar experience in the past. My teacher said I need to "blow more with the belly". I practiced that and now I don't need to tighten my lips anymore (sometimes, but I am still trying :-)). When I do it right, my Jinashi vibrates, the sound is warm and full and much better as with tight lips. Meanwhile tight lips and shrill tunes are a sign to me that i am generally uptight. Then I try to sit more relaxed and empty my head, which usually helps.

I've also noticed today, once I stopped worrying about my lips, a much stronger belly breath creating the sound. And I have the same experience with the flute vibrating - when that happens I know something is going right.


http://dustymoon.org/

Follow the ancient path / deep into mountains / and go further still..

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#10 2010-08-17 11:47:08

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: What's your opinion on the lower lip?

I don't know about the lower lip, but my upper lip always seems a little stinky.


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