Don’t Do This…. Dump ya CHOPS!

In this video, I want to encourage you not to start again from scratch.

You see Brass Players, its that time of year when all the Summer Schools, Band Camps, festivals are in full swing, sometimes 1, 2, 3, 4 days and longer. At these, and don’t get me wrong …. Apart from lots of new music to rehearse and perform and fantastic opportunities to meet others sharing their ideas and techniques; you find yourself going from say a nominal 2-3hours of playing in a day to 5-6 hours of rehearsals sometimes longer. This will not include the hours of private practise time, so the actual time with a mouthpiece on your face could be even greater.


If you feel the chops starting break up, just have a sip of water this will give you a micro rest. Very often that will be long enough for the blood and oxygen to get to replenish the tiny nerve endings and capilliaries with a supply of fresh energy.

Signs when the Chops start to really feel the duress.


One, the chops start to give out, this can start to alter the tuning, as more pressure is applied to the playing surface of the lips. This in turn turns the sound thinner, to rectify this, you think …. You press even harder, you are now in a pressure trap.

We are also in a spiralling situation.

As you increase the pressure to maintain the support you need the tiring lips need even more ‘scaffold’ to keep the lips in place.

This video was inspired by several players asking what should they do in preparation for the Brass Summer Camps.

I immediately suggest they start to build the length of time they put in to their general practise.
Easier said than done!

Running full time jobs, busy careers, children to run hither and thither for their various activities in parents taxis, easier said than done!

You were meant to do extra practise to shore your stamina, but life just got in the way.

Now I know there are differing schools of thought with regard to buzzing or not to buzz, bolstered on both sides yeah or nay by eminent player from both camps.

Following my accident where I severely damaged my lips in a fall, resulting in micro surgery, I’ll state here very definately if it wasn’t for my buzzing regime I would not be able to play like I do today.

So the YouTube video of Don’t Dump ya CHOPS!

All came about because many of you have said, that you feel you need to start again to get stronger for next year.

Can I just say, please don’t!

DO I need to apologise for this.

After writing several articles for The Brass Herald and other Brass magazines.

I feel very proud that I was invited by the late Phillip Biggs to be Embouchure Coach in Residence for two years running at his Summer Schools here in the UK. The hours associates rehearsed for was quite astonishing. Very quickly I had students coming to me for advice as to how they could quickly devise a ‘Lip Restoration Plan’. Needless to say I was quite busy at those events.

To Have in Mind to Start Again because you think, or have been told to is absolutely something You Don’t Want to Contemplate.

In 40 years of brass teaching coaching, lecturing etc, only in seldom cases have I had to make a significant alteration to a players’ embouchure.

Even in the years before Stratos was developed, I only ever needed to make micro adjustments to a player’s embouchure, to get it to re-align

What I said earlier, the Brass Summer Camps are a great opportunity to meet and network with so many players. Of course the downside to this is that if you are having issues that have manifested themselves from persistent bad habits, there seems to be no shortage of well-meaning advice givers offering solutions.

Especially where the advice comes from your friends, your well-meaning colleagues who may not have not had your exact issues so are not in a position to correctly advise you. My need to learn to play again encountered a number of challenges.

What happens when you return to your school, colleagues, coaches and tutors?

They will most probably ask how things went for you, and if you did find that you encountered issues with your playing, for example, air leaking from the corners of your mouth, notes not being centred, stamina and range issues etc…

…This is what could happen

The teacher /coach will start to look at what could be wrong with your embouchure. In many cases the ‘baby gets thrown out with the water’ so to speak and large alterations start to be made to your playing machinery. Sometimes too big an alteration for what was needed, which then causes all sorts of disruption to the muscle memory instead of micro adjusting a specific area which leaves the rest of your embouchure untouched.

A complete re-build on the embouchure can be quite catastrophic, in some cases the players never recover, some end up giving up altogether as the arduous journey to get back to any playing shape is often too great. But with micro adjustments this need not be the case.

If reading this resonates with your experiences, just say to yourself …. ‘I don’t want this to happen to me’.

DON’T Let this Happen to YOU!

Suggested plan of action

Speak to me about how a Stratos Embouchre system could help you make these micro adjustments at

You can join my Mailing list and brass embouchure advice group on Facebook.

I have tutorial videos on Patreon to give you monthly support with my “The Forensic Examination of the Embouchure” or a monthly One to One private tuition session.

Keep watching as further on in this video I also show how I recommend to my students how to keep a close ‘eye’ on your precious ‘chops’

Thanks for watching, oh and a Like and a Subscribe would really help me bring more to you.

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