blowing raspberries

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by CaptainBalrog, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. CaptainBalrog

    CaptainBalrog New Friend

    Apr 9, 2014

    I started playing with a Harmon mute almost all the time several months ago.

    It wasn't by choice. It was the result of a negotiation with my neighbours. I tried a practice mute but it doesn't seem much quieter than the Harmon and it sounds a lot worse.

    I only play unmuted in the afternoon which restricts me to Saturday and Sunday unless i have time off work.

    Up until recently i found this situation made it a real pleasure to play unmuted and i felt like using the Harmon mute actually helped me develop better tone.

    Then the raspberry thing started. It only happens when i play without the mute! It's not like a really hard raspberry. It's more like a really pathetic, airy one.

    It doesn't happen regularly. It's not specific notes. It's not just when i blow hard. It can happen at any time with any volume.

    It never used to happen so I have to suspect that all the playing with the mute has triggered some change in how i play.

    Anyone else ever start randomly blowing raspberries? (Only when playing the trumpet obviously. Anything else is your own lookout.)


  2. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Welcome to TM! Are you receiving any instruction? If not, a good teacher would be in a position to analyze your problem and provide some guidance. How much are you practicing in a session? Could fatigue be a factor? Are you resting as much as you play during your practice sessions? Does the buzzing go away after a rest? Are you confident you have a well-formed embouchure?

    We each must do what we must do in pursuit of our musicianship, but playing with a Harmon beats not playing at all. Besides, it seemed to work out OK for Miles Davis. Good luck.

  3. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    Cause and effect IMO.

    Using a practice mute from time to time is fine IMO (I have and use one), but to practice exclusively on one can lead to problems.

    For a while several years ago I did a LOT of my practice with a mute and I noticed issues with intonation, endurance, and flexibility. That stopped when I went back to practicing without the mute.

    I think you really need to find another solution.
  4. BigSwingFace

    BigSwingFace Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2013
    Frederick, MD
    In my experience, a harmon mute provides the most resistance out of any mute...especially a harmon without the stem. I have a tendency to overblow because my muscle memory says X amount of air equals Y amount of volume, and when my ears don't get as much Y as they expect it translates into me overblowing. Try backing off the air just a touch and see if this doesn't help your lips vibrate more freely. Long-term solution (aside from moving) would be Yamaha silent brass system mute or maybe trying a different practice mute that works better than the one you have now.
  5. Dupac

    Dupac Fortissimo User

    Aug 19, 2008
    Bordeaux, France.
    Under such conditions (as regards the neighbors) , I try to alternate: once with Yamaha Silent Brass, once with Best Brass mute, once with the Harmon without stem ... and as often as possible open.
  6. CaptainBalrog

    CaptainBalrog New Friend

    Apr 9, 2014
    To answer a few questions.

    I’ve never had a teacher. I play trumpet just for my own enjoyment so it’s hard to justify the expense. I did look into it once but all the teachers I contacted were busy most of the year with school students.

    I only practice about forty minutes a day. I start with five minutes of long tones going from low C to middle C and fading some vibrato in and out. I then do five minutes of flutter tongue through the same range. For some reason I feel like that has really helped my embouchure. From there I play tunes and work on tone for twenty minutes. For the last ten minutes I work chromatically up from middle C playing long tones to try and build my range. I can only really play a solid note up to F and sometimes I can squeak out and F# or G.

    When you say rest as much as you play are there people in the world who spent more of their waking life playing their horn than not?

    I think my embouchure is ok. My tone has improved a lot recently and my range is creeping up bit by bit. I play with very little mouthpiece pressure so I don’t get sore or swollen lips.

    I’d have to agree that using the Harmon mute creates issues. Mine plays sharp in the lower register and increasingly flat as I go higher. Having said that, I understand what’s happening there whereas the raspberry thing is truly baffling.

    I have found that the Harmon has less backpressure than any practice mute I’ve tried, and it sounds way better too. I did look into the Silent Brass thing but it’s hard to know what to make of the very mixed reviews it gets. A lot of people do complain about the backpressure with it.

    Anyway. I’ve been off for the last few days and I’ve done a lot of playing without the mute. The raspberry only happens when I blow soft notes. I used to be able to play a nice soft version of summertime but it was kind of airy. Now when I do it I get the raspberry.

    I’m not sure it’s playing with the mute that has done this, but I think it has cloaked a problem that has sneaked into my playing. I’ve done a lot of work on my aperture in the last few months, mostly to help with expanding my range. Did that thing with the pencil to get the feel for focusing the air and worked on developing those muscles. I think this has made my tone more solid rather than airy and my range has improved but I think it has also made the raspberry.

    When I play without the mute I can feel my aperture closing as I back of the air, but when I play with the mute I think the backpressure keeps the aperture open. For the last two days I’ve had to spend time blowing long soft tones and really concentrating on keeping the aperture from closing. It seems to be getting better.

    So that’s my current theory. Does that make sense?
  7. treble_forte

    treble_forte Pianissimo User

    Sep 11, 2007
    N. Ireland
    Not sure I can help further. If you can get away with a cup mute or adjustible cup mute pulled tight thats at least a mute you would gig on. Once again - practice mutes were ruining my chops, I try to avoid at all costs now!!

  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Simon, the raspberry is natures way of telling you not to play hard (over blow). Listen to your MOTHER!
  9. CaptainBalrog

    CaptainBalrog New Friend

    Apr 9, 2014

    Just to update.

    I don’t want to kick off a familiar debate here but I’ve never been into mouthpiece or lip buzzing. In face I CAN’T lip buzz for some reason.

    Having said that I read on here that mouthpiece buzzing can help with achieving a more relaxed embouchure so I thought I might as well give it a shot. I devoted an hour each day to mouthpiece buzzing. Don’t get complaints from neighbours about that so I can do as much as I want really.

    Already I have found that it has cured the dreaded raspberry problem. My aperture feels more open and indeed my embouchure feels much more relaxed. Even my tone seems better.

    I know the views of an amateur are not well received on here but just for any other amateurs out there that have had the same problem I thought I’d post what worked for me.
  10. Dupac

    Dupac Fortissimo User

    Aug 19, 2008
    Bordeaux, France.
    Thanks for posting that, captain.
    Mouthpiece buzzing is a quite controversial technique. For some trumpeters it helps a lot. Glad it's your case. Keep on buzzing!

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