Topic: involuntary lip quivering / shaking

Dear all,

I am a high-school-aged oboist in Vancouver.  In the last 4 to 5 months, I have been suffering with quiverings / shaking of my lips while playing the oboe.  Once I formed the embrosure, my lips (especially the bottom one) starts shaking after 5 mins.  It just won't stop unless I stop playing and rest for a couple minutes.  No matter how relax or how hard I press onto the lips, the quivering is still there.  Now I can even hear the quivering in my tone.  I have no idea how to tackle this and I am heading to music school next year too.  I really want to get this fixed before going to school in tha fall.

Cheers
Nattie*

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Re: involuntary lip quivering / shaking

Hi Nattie:

Long tones with diminuendos and crescendos will build endurance.  Have you tried these on various notes?  Are you studying with anyone?  What does your teacher say?  Are your reeds good--ie not too hard.

Kent

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: involuntary lip quivering / shaking

Dear Nattie,

In hearing your explanation of shaking of the lips, I agree with Kent that it may be an endurance problem, but of course, like going to the dentist - it's nearly impossible to diagnose your problem "over the phone." If it IS an endurance problem, Kent is correct - long tones with slow changes in dynamics can work wonders.

I've had this problem myself at times when I haven't played my oboe for awhile.  For me and like most oboists, we try to keep our embouchure as relaxed as possible.  When I'm out of shape, after only a little while of playing - either I catch myself biting down (NO! NO! NO!) or my lips sometimes quiver and occasionally my tone. 

Like a great athlete, double reed players especially, should think of themselves as long distance runners.  How wonderful to feel we can just play and play without feeling like we're dying!  wink .  This just doesn't happen overnight and won't work quickly - like cramming for an exam.

Oh, yes - and Kent mentioned your reed.  Try playing on a REALLY  easy reed for awhile and see if the problem works itself out.  You may just need this break - mentally AND physically.  I think I had this problem too - reeds too hard caused this problem.   

I'm sure you'll figure it out, Dear.  *PLEASE* report back to us and let us know what you've discovered, if you're still having problems, and/or how things are going.

Sincerely,
marsha

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Re: involuntary lip quivering / shaking

Great advice Marsha.  Also if the reed is too weak and flat and you need to lip it up that can be very tiring too.

Last edited by Kent Moore (2008-06-01 20:07:45)

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: involuntary lip quivering / shaking

I experienced the same quivering many years ago and truly thought it was my lips.  However, my husband watched me as I played and said it's not my lips but my right arm shaking.  I rested the oboe bell on my knee and the quivering stopped.   I like to move a little when I play and didn't want to always rest the bell on my knee so now I use a neck strap.  Your situation might be your lips but before you make yourself crazy (like I did), just try resting your oboe bell on your knee and see if you still have the shaking.  Good luck on finding a solution, Nattie.

Oboe, English horn:  Amarillo Symphony, Chamber Music Amarillo, Amarillo Opera, Shepherd's Trio
Blog:  http://janet.thelaniers.net/
Composition & Arranging Website:  http://janetlanier.com
"Ever notice how orchestra pits shrink through the run of a show?"