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Old 05-23-2016, 09:07 AM   #1
piobaire76
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Default Embouchure stamina

I am currently teaching a 13 year old. He's coming along quite nicely with most everything, except--he has no longevity when blowing the pipes.
I have shaved down the chanter reed to near translucence. The drones are closed down too. He can blow the drones steadily, but only for a short while. He is gradually (glacially) able to play longer and longer. His biggest accomplishment to date was that he got through "Scots Wha Hae" one part, chanter only, no drones, raspberried, then died.
I have never had a student take so long to develop an embouchure. He plays saxophone in the school band, so it's not like his mouth muscles have not been developed at all.
Any suggestions?
Thanks.
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Old 05-23-2016, 05:15 PM   #2
Randy McIntosh
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

To me I don't think that he's putting the time on the pipes.

This takes time and effort pure and simple...no magic formula


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Old 05-23-2016, 08:09 PM   #3
defenestrator
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

I had no lip power when I started either. Really encourage him to stick with it. Maybe try a different blow stick, like airstream or the ergonomic mouth piece. Let him know he can keep drones corked while playing.
He will get there as long as he isn't discouraged.
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Old 05-24-2016, 04:48 AM   #4
classicbagpipes
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

I too have two older students who are having the same sort of difficulty. One is on the pipes and is developing along slowly, ie being able to get through an Hour lesson.
The other is having the same sort if issue just on the PC. Though he too has started to improve.
Both I have told you just have to persevere and work through it.
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Old 05-24-2016, 06:43 AM   #5
Jim Fogelman
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

Where does he hold the mouthpiece? If off to the side, then his muscles aren't developed there and may actually be weaker with the strength required to hold and play the sax mouthpiece. Make sure he's playing centered (tell him to put the mouthpiece where he puts his sax mouthpiece).

I use an embouchure very similar to that of a sax or clarinet player, with my bottom lip rolled over my bottom teeth, top teeth pressing the mouthpiece into my bottom lip, and top lip sealing. I found it much easier for me to play with an Airstream or Reed Wrangler mouthpiece because of this. It might be worth looking into for the kid.
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Old 05-24-2016, 08:08 AM   #6
Potsdam
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Fogelman View Post

I use an embouchure very similar to that of a sax or clarinet player, with my bottom lip rolled over my bottom teeth, top teeth pressing the mouthpiece into my bottom lip, and top lip sealing. I found it much easier for me to play with an Airstream or Reed Wrangler mouthpiece because of this. It might be worth looking into for the kid.
Jim has it bang on. A proper saxophone (or clarinet) embouchure would work perfectly on the bagpipe. Assuming your student is using the same embouchure for both, they might have a harder time with pipes because the "mouthpiece" is narrower.
The muscles used to make the seal have to work harder with a narrower aperture. (Sax/clarinet students are sometimes made to hold on to straws with their face to help strengthen weak embouchures.)

Playing bagpipe is probably helping your student on the saxophone side.

As for your student's bagpipe stamina...watch their breathing cycle as they play. I find that students who are feshly transitioning from practice chanter don't use the bag to full capacity. They'll exhale far too long and use their breath pressure (read: not arm) to drive the bag...both of which will fatigue any embouchure.


1)Make sure your student is isn't blowing to match the phrase (or longer than a count of 3).

2)Have them start with a full bag and, using no other breathes, play as far as they can into a tune.
I bet they'll be surprised how much of the instrument lives under their arm.


Cheers
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Old 05-24-2016, 09:50 AM   #7
Kevin
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

Quote:
Originally Posted by Potsdam View Post
....[SNIP]
As for your student's bagpipe stamina...watch their breathing cycle as they play. I find that students who are feshly transitioning from practice chanter don't use the bag to full capacity. They'll exhale far too long and use their breath pressure (read: not arm) to drive the bag...both of which will fatigue any embouchure.
[SNIP].....
I would bet $$ that the issue described above is the main problem. Also check to see if your student is relaxing his lips between breaths. Other than that, as others have suggested, time and work on technique should speed up the progress.

Best regards,
Kevin
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Old 05-25-2016, 10:30 AM   #8
el gaitero
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

Quote:
Originally Posted by piobaire76 View Post


.... I have shaved down the chanter reed to near translucence.

.
Imho you are doing the student a dis-service..... especially if not even a single drone is sounding.

At 13, if he really wants to play pipes,..well, it does require some effort.

Heck,I had a 9 yr old..who's father I dissuaded from buying a child size chanter. By our third session the kid learned himself how to get his pinky onto the hole of a standard pc.
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:04 AM   #9
Klondike Waldo
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

As a long-time instrumental music teacher and band director, I would advise the student to change his embouchure for the bagpipe, getting is lower lip out from between the mouth piece and his teeth, but still keep the corners of his mouth in and firm, as if saying "Eeww." Yes, I understand that some people find that flat -mouthpiece, single-reed embouchure works for them, but having teeth on both sides of the mouthpiece takes some of the work off the lip muscles. The reason clarinet and sax players have the lower lip over the teeth is to control pressure on the reed itself to adjust intonation. It has no purpose at all in playing bagpipes, other than familiarity for those of us who played clarinet or sax before taking up the pipes.

I'd also spend some time with him with only one drone going to get a smooth transition between blowing and pressing, regardless of how long/short the phrasing/intake is.
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:28 PM   #10
piobaire76
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Default Re: Embouchure stamina

Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate your input.
He's doing quite well on the practice chanter. I think he may not be putting enough time in on the pipes--drones or chanter. That was my challenge to him this week.
Again, thanks!
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“These are bagpipes. I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equalled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.”
~Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980
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