You know that feeling you get when you discover great new music? Whether it’s Steely Dan, the latest Dave Douglas record, or a brand new Chicago Symphony recording, we all know that feeling of “Yes, exactly! I completely get this. This is awesome.”
When you’re an injured musician, that’s what it’s like to stumble upon someone else’s account of their injury and recovery. That feeling of “Wow, that’s exactly how I feel!” reminds you that no matter how dark the road, you’re not the only one walking it.
However, it can be surprisingly difficult to find these accounts. In terms of Google popularity, “trumpet embouchure injuries” and “trumpet lip surgery” aren’t exactly up there with “Justin Bieber songs.” And hey, you really shouldn’t get all your info on lip injuries from me, so here are some of my favorite web resources.
This site, as well as its author (a working pro player in a major city), was a big help to me before my own surgery. It gave me an idea of what to expect going in to the procedure, as well as what the healing process would look like. A good read with good pictures.
Poignant, honest writing about the emotional roller coaster of recovering from lip surgery. I don’t know who the author is, but he (or she) played professionally prior to injury. I’ve experienced a lot of the same post-surgery frustrations as this person – the shooting pains at the surgery site, the frustration, putting the horn down for weeks at a time – and it’s been a great help to me.
Lucinda Lewis’ embouchures.com is the biggest single online resource I’ve come across. Lewis has been principal horn in the New Jersey Symphony since 1977, and since her own severe lip injury in the early 1990s, she’s helped over 5000 (!) injured brass players find their chops again. She’s spent more than a couple of hours with me on the phone, exchanged emails a-plenty, and refuses to accept a penny of payment. Needless to say, I’m a big fan.
Her book Broken Embouchures is a must-read for any serious brass player, if only to get yourself acquainted with the full range of embouchure maladies out there. And if you’re currently fighting an injury and you haven’t read Broken Embouchures, stop reading this and order it. I’ll wait.
Denver Dill is a military musician in the West Point Band who sustained a torn lip in high school yet achieved overwhelming success by using an extremely off-center embouchure. He studied at Juilliard and Eastman before winning his job with the West Point Band, but when his injury began to worsen after 15 years, he underwent surgery with Dr. McGrail (who also operated on me) and made a full and speedy recovery. He’s published a book based on his experience, Still Playing, and I highly recommend it as well. You can see (and hear) Denver’s old and new embouchures here, and, well, it’s obvious he’s made a full recovery.