Overcoming Baby Mouth – Desert Lips – Or Both!

Yeah, okay, unlike anything I ever recall experiencing – when playing a brand new untouched by human hands for the very first time harmonica, the insides of my mouth began salivating and drooling from places I didn’t even know existed!

Not just a little, a lot. Even after long years had passed from playing any harp, my mouth did same things again.

But regardless, the first time it happens it’s definitely a WTF moment at that!

Only recently through other forum readings and whatnot, did I discover this condition – which I deemed ‘Baby Mouth’ – is actually quite common among most all beginners.

I call it Baby Mouth because it’s just like any baby who hasn’t yet acquired any of the controls over this bodily function. A drooling-all-over-the-place baby is just natural. But when it happens to you as a grown-up, seems like a whole different story then, doesn’t it?!

While certain foods, especially steaks and other fine meats get certain flair designations from seeing and smelling them sizzling on an open grill and so forth –

Well, from whatever else I may’ve put into my mouth and tasted throughout the years, I never would consider or ever call my harmonica: a salivating, scintillating mouth watering delight!

Baby Mouth in harpin’ is real; it’s also quite common. The only best way to get through it is by just allowing your mouth and salivary glands to get accustomed to it. Everybody’s different. So how long it takes is an individual personal matter. Maybe a day, maybe two, maybe longer. But just know it will eventually pass.

One thing to help the process is to not play the harmonica in any formalized fashion at all. Meaning, just walk around, perhaps with head tilted back a little, carrying the harmonica in your mouth and just breathe, inhale/ exhale through it. Use the tongue as a ‘spit guard’ or ‘spit shield’ to keep from drooling into the holes as it were. And too, if you have to spit, spit! Get it all out of your system!

One day, one moment when you’re not even thinking about, you’ll pick up your harmonica and start playing it – And viola! your mouth’s watering hole stopped flowing. Congratulate your body on that one! :-*

However though, once you have these waterworks under control to a vast extent, you may experience another condition in the opposite direction. Meaning, as you’re playing across the top of your harmonica, you’ll experience what I call: Desert Lips!

Meaning that as you’re going along, without a care in the world, suddenly you notice your lips becoming dryer and dryer. You soldier onward and upward. But then you only stop once you feel the almost unbearable scrapping, skidding, and tugging of your lips across the harmonica. Ouch!

You may even look in the mirror and see that your lips are actually chapped. Or if you’re one of the lucky ones, look at the top of the harp where you slide along and see if there’s anything of unwanted lipping body part left on it! Ouch and Eww on that! :-X

And all this in just a relatively short period of time too!

You notice also that your mouth has virtually dried up as if you swallowed a huge big spoonful of sand or something. You try, but you can’t even raise enough spat to make up a whole spit!

What to do? What to do?

Ah, yes, you know what to do. Grab a nice cold beer and slam it down. Not enough? Chug a few more. Ah, refreshing isn’t it?!

Yes, well, it may relax you and put you into the mood where as you don’t care about your lips anymore. That’s the numbing affects of the alcohol. On the other hand though, it may not solve your problem. Alcohol even beer is a dehydrator.

And your mouth and most likely the rest of your body is actually in a state of dehydration. So the beer/alcohol will help with some of the problems of the day – But doesn’t quite cure the problems itself for the rest of the week.

Best Solution then for Desert Lips: Simply Water! Nice, cool, refreshing. clear water!

Swish it, gargle it, spit it, drink it, whatever. A few or more mouthfuls of water will soothe and salve just about everything that ails you here.

Now though however, you may’ve actually gone to extent that you’ve really chapped and dried out your lips so much that it may take a few days to actually heal. I know I’ve done it. Especially in the winter time when the air around me was cold and dry too.

But a little of some Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm treatment, and sooner than soon enough I was good to go!

And quicker than all of that combined, my body adjusted and regulated itself so that the two extremes of Baby Mouth and Desert Lips are now just fond memories and a thing of the past! :smiley:

Hope this all helps you too!

Keep on smiling!

Keep on harpin’!

Thanks for reading!

Very good info,

One thing that happened to me once or twice while practicing I had that desert mouth lips dried up and wouldn’t
slide over the harp very well. I think I was practicing a fairly quick tune, I think it was “Soldiers Joy” a pretty fast
fiddle tune if I remember correctly.

Well I kept practicing and my lip on the inside kind of pinched together pretty hard and I ended up with a blister.

That stunk cause with a blister it became very hard! to practice if not impossible.

That shut me down for a few days while that healed. Sometimes I use Aquafina Lip Balm available any drug store like
Walgreens or CVS. It seems to help seal my lips around the hole I’m needing to play, but too much will clog up harp.

Harp on!!

Ouch! I know what you’re saying, JF! Hope you’re all better now too!

My lips locked up on my Big Rivers. I wrote about those almost imperceptible yet still ‘razor blade’-like protruding brass plates nobody tells you about until it’s too late. But we did here, by golly! Anywho…

It took about a week of soreness for my dry, chapped lips to finally heal.

Oh, and good advice too about the lip balms and ointments. Sure, it’s one of those things used mostly in winter time and cold dry places for lip protection. But not good on harmonicas as it clogs them holes up pretty fast. So definitely use caution and sense there.

One thing I noticed too, I experienced Baby Mouth on wooden combs more than plastic ones.

When I received my custom Elk River from David Payne, I started playing just a little, and before you know it, my mouth went aspeshit drooling all over the thing.

I don’t know if my mouth was happy to have an actual great instrument to play on for the very first time in its life, or because of the natural wood comb used in making it.

Whatever the case, I overcame Baby Mouth, then Desert Lips, and we’re all the better for it now - TYVM! :wink: