How Can I Play Longer?

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"Lower lip pressure may be the culprit with limited practice endurance. You could try a neck strap or resting the bell of the clarinet on one knee. (There has been discussion about the benefits/disadvantages of neck straps as well as the contortions involved in resting the clarinet on body parts. Check the KLARINET archives. -Ed.) Many recommend double lip embouchure for a limited period of time to "teach" your jaw (primarily) to "back off" with the pressure.

"When I am playing with a great deal of lower jaw pressure, my playing time is severely limited. With the appropriate amount of pressure, I am able to play for hours.

"Your jaw pressure may be an attempt on your part to compensate for a reed which is too hard, a mouthpiece which is unresponsive, or any number of other things which result in a tone which you don't like. As a way of making up for this you bite!"

Or use lower lip protection, three alternatives:


Lynn Thomas suggests:

"Don't buy Lip-Ease! Buy Parafilm-M from Fisher Scientific. You pay big bucks for the Lip-Ease, get a few sheets and go through it quickly. With the Parafilm you get a huge roll which will last you years and years and keeps on going...for only about $20, you'll get a lifetime supply.

We've had this discussion going off and on here - and I found out that Baxter Scientific in CA has it cheaper than Fisher Scientific (offices all over the country). Baxter Scientific 1-800-234-5227

Someone asked me what Parafilm M is: It's a plastic film, about half the thickness of an index card, which labs use to seal containers, beakers, etc. I fold it in half, and use double thickness. It molds directly to the shape of your teeth. The roll is about 4-5" wide (and umpteen million feet long, like I said, I've had it forever). You cut pieces to fit from that."


Or, as Rick Faria recommends:

"Have you ever seen those teeth guards that boxers (or football players, or karate-types) use? They are these big U shaped clear plastic things that they bite down on to guard all of their teeth. You custom fit them to your mouth like this: they are dipped into boiling water for about 30 seconds, and then you stick it into your mouth and bite down on it. The softened plastic then forms to the shape of your teeth. When you feel it is the right shape, you dip it into cool water, and it holds it's shape. Then you have a tooth guard custom fitted to your own teeth!

Now, needless to say, you do not need a guard for all of your teeth, upper and lower, so what you do is this. Buy a guard in a sports supply store, and cut off a small chunk (about the size of a dime). Boil that, and smoosh it onto your lower teeth with your fingers (you have to work fast!). When it is the right thickness, dunk it into cold water, then cut off the excess with a pair of scissors. Make a bunch this way, and you will find one that fits exceptionally well.

This is great, because: It will fit snugly to your teeth (you wont even notice that it is there); It is soft and very comfortable; You can have it cover as many, or as few teeth as you like; They will last forever!

One mouthguard will make many, many small teeth guards. It's cheap and easy. And, they are hygenic (you can brush them with your toothbrush, or dunk them in Listerine)"


Yet another idea from Stephanie K. Nelson piglet@naxs.com:

I have a suggestion that may be helpful to clarinet players whose lips tire out, or hurt from pressure. Instead of paying $20 for a roll of strictly "lip protectors": try denture pads, cut up into pieces that cover the bottom front two teeth. These cost about $3, and work great!!! I use the EZO brand of denture pads.

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