Tim teaches musical instruments in schools and colleges. He also plays the trumpet in several bands and arranges and publishes music.
Why Buzz on the Mouthpiece
The buzz produced by lips makes the sound on the trumpet. If you improve this it will benefit your sound, range and overall efficiency of performance. It's worth noting how the buzz is formed so we can use this to our advantage. The air passes over the tongue and then through a small passage in the lips called the aperture, the resistance that this creates helps to form the buzz. Playing with the mouthpiece alone will have less resistance than playing it combined with the trumpet. The danger is that during mouthpiece buzzing alone you will compensate by closing your aperture to match the resistance that you are used to when playing the trumpet. In small doses mouthpiece buzzing is beneficial; however, if practised to excess this could lead to unnecessarily added lip resistance. This is why using a device such as the ”BERP” can really benefit you while practising your lip buzzing. The ”BERP“ attaches to the lead pipe of the trumpet and adds air resistance to the mouthpiece which helps to mimic the air resistance that the trumpet would have added while you hold the trumpet in its regular position. The Best Brass Micro Mute attaches to the mouthpiece and does the same thing by adding resistance to the blow of the mouthpiece.
Buzzing With a Berp
I have written four buzzing exercises which you can practise in the videos below. All of my exercises feature sliding a glissando between the notes. I believe that this sliding buzzing approach helps you to find your most efficient technique as you have a smooth approach to each note and it helps you to find each notes optimum position. The sliding effect is also useful for the lip muscles to develop neurological muscle strength as the brain learns to discover their movement. Think of each exercise as a long note and use your aperture and tongue level to gradually change the pitch. Make sure you take a deep relaxed breath and try to keep a steady flow of air throughout the exercises resisting the temptation to “blow harder” to go higher. Instead focus on a steady flow which is supported by your abdominal muscles.
Buzzing Exercise Videos
Buzz n' Slide
C G C
C G C E
Fanfare For The Common Buzz
C G C E G
Buzzing for Warm-Ups
These exercises can be used as warm-ups and are good to do at the beginning of your practise session. They can be deceptively tiring so I have made sure that each video has plenty of rest through the use of call and response. I personally like to use these exercises as part of my “rest days”, especially the first two exercises. Rest days are important for trumpet players to recuperate their strength. By doing a light warm-up and then stopping can help speed up the recovery process more so than not playing at all. These lip buzzing exercises are especially good if you are recovering from a lip strain or injury as the movement can help to loosen the muscles up.
My Buzzing Videos.
I recorded the following four videos without a resistance tool (a BERP) as most people won't have one. The resistance that a BERP gives you makes these exercises a lot easier especially with the longer phrases.
Part 1 Buzz n' Slide / Part 2 Reggae Buzz
Part 3. Buzz Chill
Part 4. Fanfare for the Common Buzz
More Buzzing Books.
Other common trumpet books and exercises that feature lip buzzing are "The Buzzing Book" by James Thompson and "Warm-Ups and studies" by James Stamp.
Buzzing for Low Brass
Mouthpiece buzzing is also beneficial for all of the other brass instruments. The "BERP" is also available for french horn and trombone. These play-along tracks will also work for cornet, trombone (treble clef in Bb), baritone/euphonium (treble clef in Bb).
Please let me know how you get on with my lip buzzing videos. Let me know if they have helped or if you have any questions. I plan to write some more exercises in the future so please let me know what you would like!