Mouthpiece buzzing vs. horn

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jdostie, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    I have been doing quite a bit of mouthpiece buzzing in the car to try to get my chops back in shape. I know there are questions intervals, but there seems to be something more than that involved when I stick the mouthpiece in the horn. There are things (primarily lip dexterity/slurring through intervals) that I do in the mouthpiece that change as the mouthpiece is inserted into the horn. I even tried experimenting by slowly bringing the mouthpiece to the horn, and it seems like it happens right about the time the mouthpiece gets a seal on the horn that the change occurs, so I don't think it's a question of interval, but the actual structure of the horn that makes the difference?

    For example, even at these early stages of "comeback," on the mouthpiece I am messing around, and discover "hey, I can still do a trill (not as high in pitch, but still)" Then I put the mp in the trumpet, oh no I can't, it's more like I'm turning the sound on and off. So, begin the trill with the mp disconnected and start moving the mp toward the trumpet - I seem to be moving a 1/2 step, etc, then the mp is just about locked in to the trumpet, and sound goes away on one part of it. Similarly, doing interval exercises I am thinking, I've still got something here, and I put the mp in the horn, and it's well, not hard, but not as easy as I remember in the old days, nor as easy as in the mp alone.

    So this begs the question (two actually):
    1. Is mouthpiece practice going to help me?
    2. What's the difference? Am I changing my approach, is is psychological, or is it the physical characteristic of the whole horn now absorbing the vibration as opposed to the MP, or a factor of resistance?

    I'm working out getting a teacher and schedule for lessons, but I find this an interesting question . . . I've been assuming that mp practice would go a long way to getting the chops back in shape and with dexterity, but I am questioning that now (although I still think it helps with exercising the chops) I am doubting the value in terms of knowing how what I am doing is affecting what I intend it do be doing (ie: practice and interval - will it have the same affect on the horn)?

    Should I just keep on buzzing and not worry about interval? Will this phenomenon just correct itself over time as I become accustomed to playing again?

  2. Firestas'1

    Firestas'1 Piano User

    Dec 21, 2006
    New Jersey
    Mouthpeice buzzing will help you to develop a good tone quality, and will help somewhat with strengthening your chops.

    Adding the horn subjects you to the "partials" built into the tubing which makes vibrations want to find certain areas of the horn.

    I would limit mouthpiece only practice to the times when you cannot play the horn as in the car. The more horn time you get the better your progress will be.
  3. nplotts1

    nplotts1 Fortissimo User

    Aug 5, 2007
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Have you used a tuner to make sure you are buzzing the actual pitches and in tune? It helps a lot. My instructor/professor said to limit buzzing to no more than 10 minutes a day, preferably not more than 5 unless it is taking time to get a good warm-up. Everyone is different, but you may not want to spend very much time on MPC alone.
  4. eskimojoe

    eskimojoe Mezzo Piano User

    Feb 5, 2008
    for me, mouthpiece work mainly helps with fluidity and lyrical lines. work on something lyrical, and try buzzing it and keeping it smooth and flowing, blowing from note to note without really jumping on each one with too much force. it really helps me with breath control and using my air stream more efficiently.
  5. Eeviac

    Eeviac Piano User

    I've only been playing about 8 weeks now, and I find MP buzzing is helpful, I don't feel as "pressured" to make music, because it ain't music! And, more importantly, it's very hard to use too much pressure on the MP alone. So if you're been cramming the horn into your face too much, MP buzzing will show you that you can make the notes without doing that.
  6. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE
    Mouthpiece buzzing is one of those issues. Some good players swear by it and some don't do it at all. It helps me but I do it in very small bursts and I always try and make it as musical as I I was playing it as a separate valid musical instrument. Done properly, it focuses my sound and frees things up.

    The reason that some players don't use it is exactly for the reasons that you have identified. Playing the trumpet is very different than playing the mouthpiece..the instrument itself adds all sorts of acoustical feedback that varies the way our lips vibrate. Some pedagogical approaches advocate buzzing the mouthpiece and leadpipe in combination (just take out your tuning slide) since this system plays very much like the whole trumpet in terms of feedback. The object is to get the harmonic of the leadpipe resonating and the air flowing.

    Ultimately which way you go is a combination of all sorts of factors. Physical make up and your teacher's pedagogical approach probably being the two major ones.


    Last edited: Mar 2, 2008
  7. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

    Oct 25, 2007
    Just make sure you dont do it too much at a time. You can wear out your chops pretty quick with just a mp.
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Mouthpiece buzzing focusses on certain aspects of playing: Embouchure strength and intonation. The major difference is that with a mouthpiece you have no help with producing a tone, holding it out or the tone quality. Everything is dependent on your face. This is the least efficient method of obtaining a tone, but when practiced correctly can still reap benefits.
    When you put the mouthpiece in the horn, the resonance of the horn does most of the work, relieving the face of that responsibility.
    It is well documented that the buzzing can help endurance and intonation as well as developing a pure sound. This requires a good mouthpiece routine based on YOUR present development. More is not better and good is only when you are concentrated (not while driving for instance). There are sonic clues when buzzing that need to be paid attention too (like trumpet playing too). It may be possible to "maintain" a given level based on face time. Improvement involves "quality time" though. It is like bringing up kids. Important is not just being at home when they are, important is how much quality time you have together!
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    One danger of mouthpiece buzzing comes from trying to get a slurred interval to sound "clean." We learn to cheat very quickly to avoid that annoying little glissando between notes, and when we transfer that back to the trumpet, our trumpet playing gets "choppy;" we can loose our trumpet's lyric quality.

    In other words, there should always be a little glissando between tones when playing the mouthpiece alone, albeit a short glissando.

    Other than that, mouthpiece practice is a great way to practice, as long as you don't mind the spit that comes out and drips on shirts and pants.
  10. commakozzi

    commakozzi Pianissimo User

    Oct 30, 2007
    Georgia, USA
    Yeah, I like buzzing the mouthpiece in the car too, but I only consider it good time spent in getting my lips and air moving (and if I'm not going to get to play a lot for awhile I substitute buzzing for whistling, but only occassionally and I don't wear myself out with it). The quality time I spend really buzzing is really only about 5-6 mins in the practice room at a piano and on the BERP. Also, my instructor has asked me to spend a little bit of time on the mouthpiece each day doing some high buzzing (he calls it something like baby talk) to try to get a feel for the aperture and full buzz. It's hard to explain in typing.

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