HBM – Mouthpiece Buzzing

Concept:  student and mouthpiece are the instrument; trumpet is the PA system

Controversial – Jacobs SWORE by it; Vizzutti – no buzz when playing

Jacobs – scarlet fever led to belief in mouthpiece buzzing

Me – Swift started me as freshman; stopped buzzing twice and regretted it each time

Two benefits and two things to monitor:

a. Function – response, clear attacks; siren (define) between pitches – insert muscles (protractors and retractors)

b. Pitch – accurate


  1. Strips away all mechanical aids – no place to hide
  2. Develops pitch accuracy; lips must sync w/inner ear – doesn’t take long
  3. Brass player must hear as accurately as a vocalist, more so??  bad pitch = bad tone
  4. Quality of buzz determines quality of tone – maybe…
  5. Develop sense of line
  6. Calls attention to air flow – on hand strip of paper or blow on hand
  7. Instrument has more resistance = easier to play than mouthpiece
  8. Who really cares how well you buzz?  So, no pressure to succeed or fear of failing

What to Buzz:  Sirens and Melodies

  1. Hold mouthpiece near end so teacher can see lips
  2. Teach students to listen for accurate pitch and response, i.e., good start to note, fast/complete siren during slurs
  3. Begin with one note with correct embouchure and air, probably in the middle or lower range (easier) – may begin low, middle, or high – only one beginner method book addresses this
  4. Then small sirens, bigger sirens, specific pitches
  5. Octave sirens if having embouchure problems (biggest cause is lack of air)
  6. Sirens – why??  Coordinates protractors and retractors; basis for slurs and moving around horn
  7. Slur = siren, just faster – if the siren is slow, the horn will fight you, which is why we have valves
  8. Any melody the student knows – purpose:  train the ear (few weeks to train the lips)
  9. Melodies, scales, and chords – slurred, tongued, mixed
  10. Anything you can play on the horn, you should be able to buzz, except trumpet high notes abovet C; can buzz higher on cornet mouthpiece because it’s shorter
  11. Problems – cover half of mouthpiece to add resistance:  finger partly covers end, into partially closed fist
  12. Buzz-Aid/ B.E.R.P. (Buzz Extension Resistance Piece):

Resistance is more like that of the instrument (adjustable with 4 holes)
Mouthpiece angle to the face is the same as playing
Fingers aid in pitch recall
Buzz Aid Caution – easy to knock your teeth out!