Alicia BennettProduct Design BSc
Brass Anti-Pressure Device
Alerting players when they are pressing too hard on the mouthpiece
The main aim of this project is to enable brass instrument players to know when they are potentially damaging their lips. This can be caused by a number of different issues, but the main cause is the mouthpiece being pressed onto the lips with too much pressure. This eventually results in damage to blood vessels, as well as limiting playing endurance. There are two main needs that are aimed to be solved by this project: the medical need and the personal need. Medically, as discussed above, there is a need to alert brass players when they are applying too much pressure. Another side of this is the personal need. When the mouthpiece is pressed against the lips hard, a ring is formed on the lips of the player. In extreme cases, this can stay visible for several minutes after playing has ceased. This can lead, especially in younger children, to self-consciousness, which can discourage further learning. The aims and objectives of this project are numerous. Firstly, the main aim is to provide a solution to the problem which does not adversely affect the tuning of the instrument. Existing products either do not fit in the instrument at all, or add centimetres to the length of the tubing. This increase will cause the instrument to be flat, and if it cannot be compensated for with the tuning slide, it makes it impossible for the instrument to be played, with the device in place, in a group setting. In addition to this, it is aimed to improve awareness of the problem of pressing on too hard. Applying pressure is a natural tendency as the player rises up the range of the instrument, as it makes it easier to play higher notes without a great input of effort. This said, with training, it is possible to play an instrument applying only enough pressure to create a seal between the mouth and the mouthpiece, using a technique that was popular historically but has since fallen out of fashion. As the project has progressed, it has become apparent that the final deliverables will not include an exact product to the minute dimensions designed. Instead, it has evolved into a feasibility study combined with a scaled-up model of the design. The feasibility study itself combines thorough knowledge of the problem from first-hand experience with engineering and mechanisms research, which finally leads to the design details and investigation of materials. The final deliverables will include every detail needed to manufacture the product, from pin profiles to material specifications in the hope that a precision/micro engineering company could make the concept a reality.