Posted by Bill on January 27, 2001 at 07:03:12:
In Reply to: A Question posted by Tim C on January 27, 2001 at 01:11:38:
I have been asked this question, recently, by an African-American student who makes a very good sound on his (and my) tuba. He was told that his lips might be too thick to go very far as a brass player and was worried if he should spend much time on the tuba. We compared our lips and discovered that our lips were somewhat similar in size ( I am from Bohemian stock). We don't think it (thickness of lips) has much to do with playing ability.
If one wanted to research anecdotally, you would look at Louis Armstrong, Howard Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Miles Davis, Donald Byrd, J.J. Johnson, Trummy Young and hosts of other African-American brass players, measure their lips and discover no particular conclusion can be drawn about lip thickness and performance ability (or lip thickness of African-Americans, for that matter).
But reasonably, I have noticed that the part of my lips that makes any difference is the very margin of the sensitive and the more external but less sensitive area (the wet and the dry parts). I find that I control pitch and register with that very small area of my lips. I can feel the air better there and control it better. I also find that this is the area I want to use when kissing my spouse, again because it is more sensitive. Everyone's lips has this area.
Why is lip thickness ever mentioned at all? It seems that the test should be performance and effect, not weight or width.
Can you tell my why you have raised the question?