Avoiding or Recovering From a Lip Injury for Trumpet.

Updated on May 8, 2020
Tim Curd profile image

Tim teaches musical instruments in schools and colleges. He also plays the trumpet in several bands and arranges and publishes music.

Source

My Trumpet Lip Injury

During my teaching week, I was helping out at a school concert where my brass group was due to perform. I was blowing some air through my trumpet when a child ran around the corner through a door while he was looking in the opposite direction. Even though I was several metres away, I just couldn’t move away quick enough and the child head butted the end of my trumpet. My lips where trapped between my mouthpiece and my teeth and I was fortunate that none of my teeth where knocked out, though one was slightly chipped. This caused severe bruising and muscular damage to the left side of my embouchure.

The First Steps of Recovery

The first step towards recovery from an injury, bruise or strain is to try and reduce the swelling. You have to be very careful when using ice on your lips. It is possible to cause significant damage by over icing and them and it is recommended to hold the ice behind a cloth being careful not to hold the ice in one place for too long. Holding you lips under a cold water tap is also effective at reducing the swelling and there is no risk of making them worse. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can also be very helpful. The temptation is play as soon as possible but it is recommended to wait until the swelling and pain goes away. Don’t play if it hurts!

The First Notes to Recovery

After the swelling had gone down I decided to do some light buzzing on my mouthpiece. Even though it had been a week it was still uncomfortable and the left side of my embouchure felt strange. My lip ”clicked” when it moved and that area was uncomfortable to play on. I used to play with slightly spread lips and by puckingring them in slightly it seemed to aggravate them less and engaged my bottom lip more. I found using a slightly smaller mouthpiece more comfortable and I had less of a reaction after playing. I was pretty confident that I had a slight rip in my muscle and the doctor said that my glands in my lip had enlarged.

First Practise Sessions to Recovery

For my first practise sessions I used the “John Thompson Buzzing Book”,exercises 1 to 4. Practising along to the backing tracks helps you to structure your rest during and between exercises. The mouthpiece glissandos are particularly good for embouchure recuperation.These exercises only go up to the 3rd space C which is enough exercise to help the muscle recovery but not high enough to do any damage. These exercises take about 15 minutes to complete and I did this as my sole practise every morning for a week, having the odd day off if I felt I needed it. I then started to practise Clarke Technical Studies 1 and 2 in the evenings. I focused on the lower exercises and made sure I took breaks between each line. I kept this routine going for a month, gradually increasing the intensity of the exercises from the Buzzing Book and the Clarke. It was hard, dedicated and disciplined practise, and though I would have the occasional relapse, I slowly started to feel stronger. I wasn’t out of the woods yet put it was a positive start and with continued structured practise it seemed I would be able to make a full recovery.

Structuring Your Practice!

Your practise is the best way to avoid an injury to your embochure. One of the golden rules for practising the trumpet is to rest as much as you play and split your practise in to several sessions. For example for an hours practise could be:

Warm Up Session

  • 20 Minutes. Taking mini rests between exercises, avoid playing high notes/not too loud.
  • Mouthpieces buzzing from the John Thompson Buzzing Book or the Stamp book.
  • Lip Slurs, long notes and some simple tonguing exercises.
  • break.

Technical Session

  • 20 minutes, while taking mini breaks between exercises.
  • Scalic and interval exercises such as Clarke Technical Studies, Arban, Vizzuti books 1 and 2.
  • break.

Pieces/Studies

  • 20 mins, while taking mini breaks between sections.
  • This could be anything and should reflect future performance schedules. This could be performance pieces for exams or concerts or a variety of studies.

Warm Down

  • Take a few minutes to play some relaxing low notes, maybe a few pedals.
  • This practice routine can be extended but the principle is that you want to finish your practise fairly fresh meaning your lips will feel great the next day!

Important Rest Days

Swelling of the lips can be the result of bruising through too much mouthpiece pressure or a result muscular strain. The lips can feel very stiff and inflexible which can lead to a less focused sound, a loss of high register and often the articulation becomes less clean especially on first note attacks.

Taking your time to warm up in the lower register can help revive the lips but you could avoid the the swelling through playing with less mouthpiece pressure, a more relaxed posture and focusing on your breathing, aperture and tongue level.

Muscular strain can be avoided by structuring your practise with plenty of rest and recovery time. If you have had a period of strenuous playing you will then need a period less intense practise to allow your muscles to recover. Typically muscles take up to 2 to 3 days to recover fully after intense use (More if strained). The recovery process is an important part of the muscle strengthening. Without a period of recovery the muscles stay weak and risk the chance of a more serious muscle strain or rip.

You can become more prone to more serious muscle strains or rips if you spread the corners of your lips to far to your ears Like a smile. The musculature of your lips is also stronger if you don’t stretch them too far.

I found the Denis Wick Vibrass helped my recovery as massage can help treat muscle scaring and aid muscle recovery. I also slept wearing a mouth guard which I had fitted at the dentist. This helped the recovery of where the teeth had been hit in to the lip and after a week I could feel the difference.

Treating Sore Lips

If your lips are sore or swollen its normally a sign to take a rest or to take it easy. If your lips are sore there are plenty of lip balms and creams which can be very helpful. Chop saver and Robinson’s Lip Remedy have been especially created for musicians and are used to relieve the symptoms of sore lips and swelling.

A Full Recovery

After year of dedicated practise I felt like I had made a full recovery. This process has made me more aware of the importance of structured rest within practice and the benefits of strength and endurance that this can bring. I still have a little lump in my lip from the impact but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)