• Our old band practice sessions, before the Covid 19 shutdown, always ran for 90 minutes and although some difficult pieces could wear my chops down near the end of our sessions, I had been managing quite well.
    Now, our 90 minutes under Covid rules goes like this: we play 30 minutes, take a 20 minute break and leave the room while the air is being exchanged, come back and play the final 40 minutes. Here's what's bothering me, after the 20 minute break my chops are just not working as well as they did when we played 90 minutes non stop.
    Any idea why this is happening ?


  • I am thinking edema, as even the slightest bit of swelling can change the embouchure. Sucking on an ice cube immediately after starting the break may help.


  • @Dr-GO
    Thanks, Doc, I've used ice cubes in the past to alleviate the swelling after a difficult concert. In the hall where we practice there is no freezer or refrigerator so that is out during that practice break. I suppose I could do 20 minutes of horse laughs with the lips...lol !


  • You can bring cubes with you in a thermos.


  • Alternatively you could kiss the viola player.


  • Massaging the lip for 5 minutes or so periodically would also be an option.


  • Well, looks like I have lots of options. But I'm really not so sure it's swollen lips, and even if they were swollen, shouldn't they recover during that 20 minute break ?


  • What about symphonic players who might sit very long times without playing, or studio players who come in, blow just a couple of note and record? How is your personal practice?

    Do you play in intervals and then take a rest and then play again, or just blow through and end. You should develop a consistent rehearsal schedule to reflect the playing schedule.

    Do you blow gentle long tones before coming off of a break?

    You may not need exotic methods. just common sense practicing and preparation.

    I'm not saying what works for one works for all, but I've played formal classical concerts, big band playing and pop combo work and never did much more than play a few notes.


  • @Kehaulani
    I have no problems with my chops when I practice at home, and never had problems with the band until we started that play 30 minutes, break 20 and play 40 minutes. I just find my chops don't always work well during that last 40 minutes and never had a problem before the Covid changes when I had to play 90 minutes pretty much non stop.

    It's weird but I'm hoping it will work itself out once my old chops adjust to this new arrangement.
    As far as blowing gentle long tones coming off the break, I don't get a chance because the minute we are back in the practice room we start playing again. But I'll try to sneak a few of those in next week.

  • Qualified Repair Techs

    One of the other things that may have changed during your time off from playing with a group is your endurance. Endurance when playing on our own is easier - when playing with a group we’re doing a whole lot of work adjusting the the intonation of others, and in this case others who may not have had the best personal practice habits during the time off.I find it’s more tiring to play with beginner or amateur groups than with pros because of the intonation problems.


  • @GeorgeB said in What's Going On Here ?:

    Well, looks like I have lots of options. But I'm really not so sure it's swollen lips, and even if they were swollen, shouldn't they recover during that 20 minute break ?

    Not if you let the edema collect... hence applying ice or message.


  • @flugelgirl said in What's Going On Here ?:

    One of the other things that may have changed during your time off from playing with a group is your endurance. Endurance when playing on our own is easier - when playing with a group we’re doing a whole lot of work adjusting the the intonation of others, and in this case others who may not have had the best personal practice habits during the time off.I find it’s more tiring to play with beginner or amateur groups than with pros because of the intonation problems.

    I agree this is another option. Endurance would imply fatigue. Once again, fatigue is the result of the collection of lactic acid into the muscle. Again, in this case massage will help blood flow into the lip to help remove the lactic acid.


  • The thing is, when our practice sessions ran for 90 minutes without a break, my endurance and playing was just fine. This weirdness just started when we had to take a 20 minute break and leave the room so the air could be changed to get rid of the aerosol.
    Thanks for your input and suggestions.


  • @GeorgeB said in What's Going On Here ?:

    The thing is, when our practice sessions ran for 90 minutes without a break, my endurance and playing was just fine. This weirdness just started when we had to take a 20 minute break and leave the room so the air could be changed to get rid of the aerosol.
    Thanks for your input and suggestions.

    Which is why I believe edema (swelling) is more likely than fatigue.


  • @Dr-GO
    Thanks, Doc.


  • Kehaulani's reply has given me an idea. Since I have never had a problem when playing our 90 minute band practice non stop before the Covid change, tomorrow, during the 20 minute break I am going to my car, sit in the back seat and play a series of easy exercises for about 15 minutes, taking rests between each exercise. Then we'll see what happens when we resume playing for the last 40 minutes of practice.

    I'll let you know how it goes.


  • UPDATE

    Just want to let you all know that last night during the 20 minute break from practice, I went to my car in the parking lot, sat in the back seat and played a variety of easy exercises that included long tones, lip slurs and some scales including chromatic scales. I took a good rest between each exercise and figure I played about 12 or 13 minutes of the 20 minute break. When practice resumed I played the remaining 40 minutes of practice without any embouchure problems.
    I guess not playing for 20 minutes was encouraging edema. I don't know, but I do know I will be continuing to play during the breaks from now on.