Lip rolling causes irritation, which can be severe


My 10 year old daughter, H started playing the clarinet last year. Everything was fine until last spring (concert time) and with increased practice, she started getting extremely chapped lips. Eventually went away over the summer.

This year because she plays all the time, between band, chamber band, lessons and practicing at home, her bottom lip looks awful. The bottom lip, in the center and under her lip is cracked, purple, swollen and even bleeds. We have tried hydrocortisone, Vaseline, plastic coated, and plastic reeds. The plastic coated seems to work the best, but our music supply store can no longer get them. She doesn’t care for the plastic reed but will use it because she loves her clarinet…she’s first chair and is in “the 7th grade book” (she’s in Grade 5 at school).

If I can’t find anything soon to help, she is going to switch to percussion..unwillingly I might add.

Do you have any suggestions for me?
Hi lip-rollers Mom:
Well, it could be that relief is on the way, but let us see what we can do. I think initially that your daughter could be playing incorrectly. I cannot see what is going on so I have to surmise from everything you have said.
She could be moving her lower lip , and a lot when she is playing, and it should be relatively still. If so, then she is scratching and irritating her lower lip and the problem can be solved by a clarinet instructor or a clarinet player correcting her. Does she have such an instructor? I think not.
She is evidently moving her lower lip considerably and she should not be .
Christmas is coming and with it the school holiday. I would suggest that she rest her mouth totally for several days and when she resumes, please watch her and if she moves her lower lip while playing, then please tell her to play without the movement. You may have to tell her more than once.
The plastic, as such are not recommended, however there is one which is very very good, called Legere, which can be professionally used and is.
There is also a student model of this reed which is less expensive.

But I do not think that is the problem; I think she is moving her lip around or riding the clarinet on it in some way, which as I said, must not happen.
Fatigue is one thing, however what you mention is more like injury and that must be fixed.
I suggest you not add to her woes by changing instruments, for that is not the problem.
Incidentally, what are her teeth like as far as protrusion in the lower teeth, crooked teeth can sometimes irritate and can be fixed inexpensively.
Good luck, sherman

Mr. Friedland,

Thank you SO much for your response. I have printed it and will show it to her band instructor tomorrow, (I teach where she goes to school) Everyone has blamed it on the reed, never on the possibility that she might be playing incorrectly.

I just had her play a little for me. She doesn’t seems to be moving much, BUT she does seem to be “rolling” her bottom lip in alot. Which she did hear from her new band teacher just recently that she is rolling it in too much. If she can resist the urge to roll it in and maybe hold the bell up and position her clarinet so it doesn’t sit so low on her chin…which I am assuming shouldn’t be touching the instrument in the first place..then maybe the irritation will decrease.

Does that sound right? Is relief really on the way?
Yes, it should be, Keep her still when she plays; the clarinet is not a “slide” instrument.

best holiday wishes,


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