mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

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VJOFan
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by VJOFan » Wed Apr 28, 2021 12:37 pm

Doug Elliott wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:02 am
This might not make sense to everybody, but have you ever tried running on a sloped surface, where one foot is constantly higher than the other? Or on a curb, with your right foot hitting the curb and your left foot in the gutter?

It's running...
Funny, I actually do that regularly. It stresses and strengthens the muscles in different ways, improves overall athleticism, improves proprioception and forces a slower pace so an easy run stays easy.

I am talking about snaking back and forth across a grade. A giant curb difference would not be comfortable at all.

So which is buzzing in your opinion, a strategic workout that has defined benefits when done in a controlled manner (zigzag running) or an uncomfortable, potentially injurious practice (running half on, half off a curb)?
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Doug Elliott » Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:15 pm

I'll continue with the running analogy.
I discovered a few years ago that my right leg is shorter than my left leg. I had lower back problems for many years, and then I experimented with shoe inserts and discovered how much height I needed to add. Now I have 5/8" added to the sole of all my right shoes. No more back pain, that correction was what I needed. So if I walk or run barefoot, I feel it in my lower back.... if the ground is level. If the ground is sloped so the right side is higher, I would be comfortable. If the ground is sloped so the left side is higher, I would quickly injure my back because there would then be a 1-1/4 inch discrepancy, to my back.

OK, back to trombone. I play on the left side of my mouth because that's where it works best, by far. I discovered that accidentally - it makes a huge difference in my playing, although I can also play in other directions and it sounds pretty much the same.

If I buzz on the mouthpiece, I can't really tell that the left side works better. Maybe buzzing works even better someplace else. Should I buzz on the mouthpiece?

My answer is no. I think it's important to reinforce correct sensations that apply to playing. Why would I practice and therefore reinforce something else?

And that's me, knowing these things. Most players don't know, and I haven't yet seen someone mouthpiece buzz with exactly the same form that I think they should use for playing. It's always "something else."

I know a lot of players use mouthpiece buzzing for other purposes, like accurate pitch and air flow - and those are obviously good things to practice. I just do and teach those things quite effectively without mouthpiece buzzing.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Kbiggs » Wed Apr 28, 2021 5:21 pm

Perhaps—for the majority of players—freebuzzing and mouthpiece buzzing help with coordination and accuracy, as well muscle strength and endurance, as Doug and Dave have pointed out. I have tried both and find them beneficial. At least, that’s what I tell myself. My belief, without any studies or comparisons, is that the advantages of mouthpiece and free buzzing outweigh any disadvantages. Five, 10, maybe 15 minutes in a day seems about right. Any more and it feels counter-productive.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PaulTdot » Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:59 am

I have experimented with mouthpiece buzzing and free buzzing a great deal, including long periods of time where I didn't mouthpiece buzz at all. (I was once called in to teach a brass pedagogy class, and the students were working on some mouthpiece buzzing, so I tried to demonstrate for them and was rather embarrassed to discover I couldn't do it anymore! Now I do quite a bit of again, years later, because finding space to play the horn during the pandemic is difficult.)

In NYC, I ran into some players who believed there were two "types" of brass players: the "long tone players" and the "mouthpiece buzzers". They claimed to be able to hear the difference, and appreciate both sounds/approaches. The "long tone players" grounded their playing in long tones, always on the horn. The "mouthpiece buzzers", on the other hand, had their basis for their technique grounded in a lot of mouthpiece buzzing. I suppose you were supposed to know by how a person warmed up, or something like that. I'm pretty skeptical of that, but there is no doubt that there are incredible players who use mouthpiece buzzing extensively as well as incredible players who never do it, and the same goes for free buzzing.

I think that free/lip buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing are both potentially useful and potentially harmful: it really depends on what you're lacking in your playing, and what you need to reestablish balance, as well as, most importantly, HOW you do it.

I think of both approaches as cross-training: as in Doug's analogy (I also have a shorter right leg!), running on a slope could be really helpful or really harmful, depending on your anatomy and your technique. You have to be extremely mindful, because both are possibilities.

Ultimately, playing the horn is your goal: it does you no good to develop techniques or skills that work well on, say, just the mouthpiece, if it doesn't transfer to the horn. (Or indirectly support your playing.)

Personally, I find free buzzing (if taught and done correctly; being particularly mindful of upstream players, who can't buzz as they play, as well) almost magical. A great way to develop consistency, balance, and strength, as well as to learn what balanced "embouchure firmness" feels like, which helps with mouthpiece placement as well as some chop problems. When I've been able to teach a beginner to free buzz correctly, they can often play about 2 octaves on the instrument with the sound of someone who's been playing for years. (Although they need to build up the endurance to be able to play! You can watch endurance in beginners, muscles engaging and then failing within *seconds*. Quite remarkable!)

I teach my students not to buzz for more than a minute or two - get a good workout and get out. (In my own practice, I've experimented with up to 2 hours (!!!) of free buzzing on occasion. It's possible and builds a ton of strength, but it's also easy to experience some real strain, so I don't recommend this to anyone. I benefited from it, but I had to be quite careful.)

Mouthpiece buzzing, on the other hand, I'm more cautious about. It helps to add some resistance to the mouthpiece, especially if you want to buzz lower. It's possible to do things with the mouthpiece that work and are completely different from what you do on the horn: I once developed an extended register on the mouthpiece, but couldn't replicate it on the horn (this was a cue for me to stop mouthpiece buzzing, and why I quit it for many years).

Mouthpiece playing is great for opening up the sound, working on your ears and pitch, and endurance. Carefully assigned to a player who might be having trouble getting a good sound despite otherwise solid mechanics, it can help open up their sound, or help identify pitch issues.

These days I use mouthpiece buzzing (with the lessened resistance) to compensate for having to do most of my playing with a practice mute (with extra resistance), and that has been working to maintain the balance. I've also experimented with doing long sessions of over an hour. Again, great for strength and endurance; a killer way to "get back in shape" if you need to.

However, it's *really* easy to develop technique or mechanics on the mouthpiece that don't transfer to the horn (or worse, do, when they shouldn't!). I don't recommend it unless you are confident of a number of factors in your playing (and those factors would mean that you'd benefit from it, which isn't always the case). Lip buzzing + playing the horn is much safer, and just playing the horn might be safest (but you'd be missing out on the benefits of lip buzzing!).

In both cases, I think the danger zone is the lower register. Stay away from there unless you are *really* sure you know what you're doing. It's too easy to do entirely unhelpful things in order to get those notes to speak, and I'm doubtful that there's ANY benefit to doing so at all. All my buzzing (lip and mouthpiece) is middle register and up. Lip buzzing is best done quietly and with control. Mouthpiece buzzing, on the other hand, is good to do at a healthy volume, with a strong sound, and... carefully, because that's a lot of strain on your chops - playing a "strong" sound on a mouthpiece is like playing ff or fff on the horn (just try transferring that buzz to the horn and you'll see!), with all the attendant dangers and issues.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Doug Elliott » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:07 am

Good post
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PaulTdot » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:22 am

Thanks, Doug!
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by baileyman » Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:28 pm

PaulTdot wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:59 am
...the danger zone is the lower register. Stay away from there unless you are *really* sure you know what you're doing. It's too easy to do entirely unhelpful things in order to get those notes to speak, and I'm doubtful that there's ANY benefit to doing so at all. All my buzzing (lip and mouthpiece) is middle register and up. Lip buzzing is best done quietly and with control. Mouthpiece buzzing, on the other hand, is good to do at a healthy volume, with a strong sound, and... carefully, because that's a lot of strain on your chops - playing a "strong" sound on a mouthpiece is like playing ff or fff on the horn (just try transferring that buzz to the horn and you'll see!), with all the attendant dangers and issues.
Great observations. Who knows what's *right*?

I have found some workarounds to get lower, too, and on their own do not seem helpful. For instance, I cannot (yet) freebuzz pedal Bb and then get it on the horn using the workaround. However, the action of, say, glissing from low Eb to pedal Bb including the workaround seems to inform the same thing on the horn. I figure it's not the workaround but negotiating the interval that provides the lesson.

I have also found my freebuzz buzzes in my ears so strongly I can hardly hear anything. Definitely not quiet! I'll try to pipe down a bit...

On piece blowing, a trumpet buddy from Glostah said he was walking through Rockport one night and heard a loud wailing coming from somewhere, not recognizable but somehow familiar, echoing off the buildings. Turning a corner, a fellow was ripping some sirens on a trumpet mouthpiece. The guy turned out to be Arturo Sandoval, appearing at the Shalin Liu Center. So there's at least one example of piece volume.

I suppose for every preference in practice there exists at least one person doing well the opposite.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Doug Elliott » Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:33 pm

"Glostah"

nice!
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by greenbean » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:44 pm

That's wicked funny! :good:
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by BGuttman » Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:39 am

Better than "Glau-chester", which is how non New Englanders say it.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PosauneCat » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:22 pm

:D a very relevant quote. One of my fav books!
Bach5G wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 12:15 pm
Shooting skeet eight hours a month was excellent training for them. It trained them to shoot skeet.

--Joseph Heller, Catch-22.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PosauneCat » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:31 pm

A great reply. Thanks!

PaulTdot wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:59 am
I have experimented with mouthpiece buzzing and free buzzing a great deal, including long periods of time where I didn't mouthpiece buzz at all. (I was once called in to teach a brass pedagogy class, and the students were working on some mouthpiece buzzing, so I tried to demonstrate for them and was rather embarrassed to discover I couldn't do it anymore! Now I do quite a bit of again, years later, because finding space to play the horn during the pandemic is difficult.)

In NYC, I ran into some players who believed there were two "types" of brass players: the "long tone players" and the "mouthpiece buzzers". They claimed to be able to hear the difference, and appreciate both sounds/approaches. The "long tone players" grounded their playing in long tones, always on the horn. The "mouthpiece buzzers", on the other hand, had their basis for their technique grounded in a lot of mouthpiece buzzing. I suppose you were supposed to know by how a person warmed up, or something like that. I'm pretty skeptical of that, but there is no doubt that there are incredible players who use mouthpiece buzzing extensively as well as incredible players who never do it, and the same goes for free buzzing.

I think that free/lip buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing are both potentially useful and potentially harmful: it really depends on what you're lacking in your playing, and what you need to reestablish balance, as well as, most importantly, HOW you do it.

I think of both approaches as cross-training: as in Doug's analogy (I also have a shorter right leg!), running on a slope could be really helpful or really harmful, depending on your anatomy and your technique. You have to be extremely mindful, because both are possibilities.

Ultimately, playing the horn is your goal: it does you no good to develop techniques or skills that work well on, say, just the mouthpiece, if it doesn't transfer to the horn. (Or indirectly support your playing.)

Personally, I find free buzzing (if taught and done correctly; being particularly mindful of upstream players, who can't buzz as they play, as well) almost magical. A great way to develop consistency, balance, and strength, as well as to learn what balanced "embouchure firmness" feels like, which helps with mouthpiece placement as well as some chop problems. When I've been able to teach a beginner to free buzz correctly, they can often play about 2 octaves on the instrument with the sound of someone who's been playing for years. (Although they need to build up the endurance to be able to play! You can watch endurance in beginners, muscles engaging and then failing within *seconds*. Quite remarkable!)

I teach my students not to buzz for more than a minute or two - get a good workout and get out. (In my own practice, I've experimented with up to 2 hours (!!!) of free buzzing on occasion. It's possible and builds a ton of strength, but it's also easy to experience some real strain, so I don't recommend this to anyone. I benefited from it, but I had to be quite careful.)

Mouthpiece buzzing, on the other hand, I'm more cautious about. It helps to add some resistance to the mouthpiece, especially if you want to buzz lower. It's possible to do things with the mouthpiece that work and are completely different from what you do on the horn: I once developed an extended register on the mouthpiece, but couldn't replicate it on the horn (this was a cue for me to stop mouthpiece buzzing, and why I quit it for many years).

Mouthpiece playing is great for opening up the sound, working on your ears and pitch, and endurance. Carefully assigned to a player who might be having trouble getting a good sound despite otherwise solid mechanics, it can help open up their sound, or help identify pitch issues.

These days I use mouthpiece buzzing (with the lessened resistance) to compensate for having to do most of my playing with a practice mute (with extra resistance), and that has been working to maintain the balance. I've also experimented with doing long sessions of over an hour. Again, great for strength and endurance; a killer way to "get back in shape" if you need to.

However, it's *really* easy to develop technique or mechanics on the mouthpiece that don't transfer to the horn (or worse, do, when they shouldn't!). I don't recommend it unless you are confident of a number of factors in your playing (and those factors would mean that you'd benefit from it, which isn't always the case). Lip buzzing + playing the horn is much safer, and just playing the horn might be safest (but you'd be missing out on the benefits of lip buzzing!).

In both cases, I think the danger zone is the lower register. Stay away from there unless you are *really* sure you know what you're doing. It's too easy to do entirely unhelpful things in order to get those notes to speak, and I'm doubtful that there's ANY benefit to doing so at all. All my buzzing (lip and mouthpiece) is middle register and up. Lip buzzing is best done quietly and with control. Mouthpiece buzzing, on the other hand, is good to do at a healthy volume, with a strong sound, and... carefully, because that's a lot of strain on your chops - playing a "strong" sound on a mouthpiece is like playing ff or fff on the horn (just try transferring that buzz to the horn and you'll see!), with all the attendant dangers and issues.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Savio » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:57 pm

Basbasun wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:49 am
Buzzing again? I did a search for Buzzing. Search found 597 matches. From 2010 and on.
There are many oppinions on this matter, a never ending story. How many of you have shanged your oppinion since 2010?
To tell the truth I didn't have so much opinions in 2010 and don't have it to day either. :shuffle: So much videos, so many posts about it. Everyone is different. What to believe or trust? Must be confusing for young upcoming players? Have to admit it is for me too. I feel young :) but are definitely not upcoming... :biggrin:

I do mouthpiece buzzing with the small kids I teach. Especially the one's who blow out their cheeks when playing. It seems to stop that habit.

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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by slidefunk » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:59 pm

"Playing the mouthpiece alone is not exactly like playing the instrument. But it is close enough to the instrument that there is marvelous transfer value. In other words, you can develop skills on the mouthpiece that can then be applied to the instrument, with the help of imagination."

"When playing the mouthpiece, think that you forgot the instrument at home, but you still have to entertain your audience. You'll see that as you play the mouthpiece, the storytelling aspect of your playing will increase. When you add the mouthpiece to your instrument, your sound will sparkle. This mouthpiece training will connect your artistic thoughts to the tissue."

-Arnold Jacobs
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Wilktone » Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:02 pm

“I hardly ever consider the embouchure.” - Arnold Jacobs
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:37 pm

slidefunk wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:59 pm
"Playing the mouthpiece alone is not exactly like playing the instrument. But it is close enough to the instrument that there is marvelous transfer value. In other words, you can develop skills on the mouthpiece that can then be applied to the instrument, with the help of imagination."

"When playing the mouthpiece, think that you forgot the instrument at home, but you still have to entertain your audience. You'll see that as you play the mouthpiece, the storytelling aspect of your playing will increase. When you add the mouthpiece to your instrument, your sound will sparkle. This mouthpiece training will connect your artistic thoughts to the tissue."

-Arnold Jacobs
That is straight up the "think method". If you try really hard and just believe in yourself....
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Savio » Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:45 pm

I find it a little childishly to compare different teaching methods especially when we don't know exactly the method of people like Arnold Jacobs. He didn't write a book, but he obvious was teacher that had success. Not only in the brass world. Why be competitive about teaching methods? Like this is right, this is wrong? He is wrong, I'm right. Maybe a business question?

I'm also a teacher but on a lower level, I never say to my students this is the only method to follow. I'm very open and try to make them discover their own possibilities, their own strength and go from there. Because I don't know what is right, but try to make them find it and go their own way. And since I teach children I also try to make it fun.

Don't take me wrong all you good teachers, we are here to see potensial, skills and talents and gently guide it on the road, make them have a positive experience with music. But Not to bring other teachers methods in a bad light or put it down...you know what I mean. I think thats why some famous people never writes a method book. And thats why we shouldn't use words they have told in any other contexts:
Wilktone wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:02 pm
“I hardly ever consider the embouchure.” - Arnold Jacobs
It makes me think what I have told each student I had during nearly 40 year's. My god, then I might be in jail :shuffle: :biggrin: :amazed: :cool:

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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PosauneCat » Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:54 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:37 pm

That is straight up the "think method". If you try really hard and just believe in yourself....
...

Yeah, but it’s also the basis of a placebo. If something is nonsense to someone but a life saver to another, is it wrong?

If anything, this post has shown me that there are divided opinions about the subject and apparently divided results. I wonder how much of what we can do in our own lives is simply the result of believing we can, and how many of our failures are simply the result of believing we can’t?

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts.

Mike
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by harrisonreed » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:06 pm

PosauneCat wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:54 pm
harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:37 pm

That is straight up the "think method". If you try really hard and just believe in yourself....
...

Yeah, but it’s also the basis of a placebo. If something is nonsense to someone but a life saver to another, is it wrong?

If anything, this post has shown me that there are divided opinions about the subject and apparently divided results. I wonder how much of what we can do in our own lives is simply the result of believing we can, and how many of our failures are simply the result of believing we couldn’t?

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts.

Mike
There is no denying that Arnold Jacobs produced some of the best brass players as a teacher.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PosauneCat » Sat May 01, 2021 3:37 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:06 pm

There is no denying that Arnold Jacobs produced some of the best brass players as a teacher.
Very true.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by brtnats » Sat May 01, 2021 4:31 am

I rim buzz using my Reinhardt pivot that Doug helped me understand, and I make the pivot the same way on the horn as on the rim. I can carry a rim in my pocket or on my keys, and the benefit of being able to take a few moments and buzz throughout the day has had a positive effect on my playing. YMMV.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by brtnats » Sat May 01, 2021 4:38 am

PosauneCat wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 3:37 am
harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:06 pm

There is no denying that Arnold Jacobs produced some of the best brass players as a teacher.
Very true.
There’s also a strong possibility his particular teaching strategy works well with one kind of student and not another. I’d think Jacobs would not have been the best teacher for analytically-minded students.

(Edited for clarity)
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PosauneCat » Sat May 01, 2021 8:02 am

brtnats wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 4:31 am
I rim buzz using my Reinhardt pivot that Doug helped me understand, and I make the pivot the same way on the horn as on the rim. I can carry a rim in my pocket or on my keys, and the benefit of being able to take a few moments and buzz throughout the day has had a positive effect on my playing. YMMV.
Hmm, an interesting idea.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Pre59 » Sat May 01, 2021 8:19 am

PosauneCat wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 3:37 am
harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:06 pm

There is no denying that Arnold Jacobs produced some of the best brass players as a teacher.
Very true.
But the fact that they got as far as lessons with "AJ" suggests to me that they were already on their way to being good players.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Wilktone » Sat May 01, 2021 8:32 am

For the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with "connecting your artistic thoughts to the tissue." In fact, I argue that this should be essential part of of your practice. My point, however, is that it shouldn't be the only part. Or necessarily the main part.
Savio wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:45 pm
I find it a little childishly to compare different teaching methods especially when we don't know exactly the method of people like Arnold Jacobs. He didn't write a book, but he obvious was teacher that had success. Not only in the brass world. Why be competitive about teaching methods? Like this is right, this is wrong? He is wrong, I'm right. Maybe a business question?
I don't think there's anything wrong about comparing different approaches and looking for the relative merits and effectiveness between them. In fact, I argue that this is an essential part of improving our abilities as teachers and advancing the field as a whole. Is this right or wrong? It absolutely matters, as long as we are taking an objective look at the issue. Disagreements are fine. In other fields (e.g., sciences) they are the driving force behind working towards a more effective understanding of the way things actually work.
Savio wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:45 pm
And thats why we shouldn't use words they have told in any other contexts:
For the curious, here is the context in which Jacobs said, "I hardly ever consider the embouchure."



My point in putting that quote out there is that (merits of his approach aside) we might not want to consider someone who "hardly ever considers the embouchure" as a leading resource in embouchure technique. I could pick apart a lot of the things he states in that video. There are other folks who are more knowledgable who make better references for us in that area.
PosauneCat wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:54 pm
Yeah, but it’s also the basis of a placebo. If something is nonsense to someone but a life saver to another, is it wrong?
Does the teacher offering the advice know the difference? In other words, is the student actually getting better or is the student getting better at playing wrong? Having some objective ways to look at student performance will help the teacher know the difference.

In medicine there's the idea of informed consent. If you enroll in a clinical trial for research purposes you go into the intervention knowing that you might be getting a placebo. In actual clinical practice it's considered unethical to give someone a placebo and misinform them that you're providing actual treatment.

The thing about placebo is that the effect tends to go away over time. I wrote above about my observations on how there is usually an immediate improvement after buzzing on the mouthpiece, but that it doesn't usually last.
harrisonreed wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:06 pm
There is no denying that Arnold Jacobs produced some of the best brass players as a teacher.
He also had some of the best brass players go to him for lessons to get better, so it shouldn't be a surprise that his studio had so many excellent brass players. Ultimately I think the ideas should stand on their own merit, regardless of who said them. Too often in these sorts of discussions we start using the reputation of the person who said something supporting our own position as evidence. It might be a good enough reason to take that idea seriously, but if the idea doesn't hold water in the end, it's worth putting aside. That's no reason to invalidate everything that the famous teacher/player said, of course, but even the best of us are wrong from time to time. And even a broken clock is right twice a day.
brtnats wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 4:38 am
There’s also a strong possibility his particular teaching strategy works well with one kind of student and not another. I’d think Jacobs would not have been the best teacher for analytically-minded students.
We are all analytically-minded students. We're all intuitive learners. We're all visual learners and auditory learners. The whole concept of "teaching styles" has not been supported by student success, but this myth still persists even in the field of education. There are learning preferences, but how we prefer to take in information isn't always the best medium for the lesson.

Good pedagogy teaches for the situation, not the student's supposed "learning style." There's a time and place for everyone for "think product, not process." There's also a time and place for everyone to be more analytical and get down into the weeds of the details. Paralysis by analysis means you're doing it wrong.

There are less subjective ways to look at the merits and detriments to mouthpiece buzzing. Jason Beghtol's dissertation, which I linked to earlier in this thread, is one way (although we need to be aware of the limitations imposed by the methodology).

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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by slidefunk » Sat May 01, 2021 12:38 pm

From the Hal Leonard Advanced Band Method, to which Jacobs contributed a special studies section at the back of the book. Keep in mind, this is a studies book for tuba, but I personally think most of Jacob's approach is applicable to all the low brass.

"I have included a page of exercises to be played on the mouthpiece without the Tuba. I believe this type of practice to have many benefits and recommend at least 5 to 10 minutes of playing before starting practice on the Tuba. This practice should include melodies as well as drill forms. Expanding the range, particularly in the high notes, is a great help to the player. Many times he will achieve success on the mouthpiece before he will on the Tuba, thereby making it easier to transfer the new ability to the instrument."

On a personal note, I took a lesson a few years ago from a prominent Broadway player. He had me try to play some things on the mouthpiece. I say try, because I couldn't do it at all. He recommended I work on it and suggested a few buzzing and breathing tools I could purchase. He had added buzzing to his practice routine after a string of lessons with Jacobs in the 90s.

I came away a bit disheartened, mostly because I felt like I was lacking a major mechanic in my playing. I spent the next year starting every day on the mouthpiece, maybe 15-20 minutes. Here's the thing: I don't think I got much out of it. Certainly I became a better buzzer, but it didn't make me better player or fix the sound issues I was dealing with. Was that the fault of the method, or was it a lack of understanding the tool and how to use it? Had I really grasped its use after one lesson?

I got away from buzzing after a while, but I am trying to add it back into my toolbox. Not as a routine but as a different way of approaching a difficult passage or exercise. It's a great way of examining your air and connecting your artistic thoughts to the tissue, as Jacobs would have put it.

Just my two cents.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by timothy42b » Sun May 02, 2021 5:41 am

Interesting video, thanks for sharing.

At about 6:00 he says he gives them music, and by trial and error they figure the embouchure out. I would find that discouraging.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by PaulTdot » Sun May 02, 2021 12:16 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 5:41 am
At about 6:00 he says he gives them music, and by trial and error they figure the embouchure out. I would find that discouraging.
So many of us do. And have.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Kbiggs » Sun May 02, 2021 3:01 pm

timothy42b wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 5:41 am
Interesting video, thanks for sharing.

At about 6:00 he says he gives them music, and by trial and error they figure the embouchure out. I would find that discouraging.
I think it’s important to place that statement in context. Just before that, an audience members asks about how to help a student stabilize the embouchure. Jacobs says he wouldn’t focus on the embouchure because “it’s a variable.” He then goes on to say, “You stabilize the embouchure by stabilizing the music.”

My interpretation: In the long run, my feeling is that Jacobs’ teaching is spot on. Our focus as musicians should be on playing, teaching and talking about music. However, I also think Jacobs glosses over the problems that many people have with embouchure. I think, however, that was a deliberate choice on his part—to get people to focus on song and wind (making music and breathing naturally) rather than focusing on (and getting stuck on) forming the embouchure.

Having said that, and having gone down the rabbit hole of “what’s wrong with my embouchure” in the past, I think it is equally important to have good mechanics with the embouchure, and to have a knowledgeable teacher to guide students (and me!) towards better functioning and more efficient embouchures and playing mechanics.

At the same time, there’s a quite a few examples of people with screwy embouchures who manage to play without focusing so much attention to the mechanics of a good embouchure, like Vincent Chicowicz, Dizzy Gillespie, etc. I believe (and I may be wrong) that they’re focusing on making music, and not on their embouchures.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Wilktone » Sun May 02, 2021 3:50 pm

Kbiggs wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 3:01 pm
Jacobs says he wouldn’t focus on the embouchure because “it’s a variable.”
The question he was asked was, "How would you go about altering an embouchure that you know doesn't work because of the muscle structure or an embouchure that doesn't function as well as it should because of the placement?" I don't see any way that assignments of music are going to lead a student to their correct mouthpiece placement.

There are lots of "variables" in playing and teaching. How the student's embouchure mechanics are one variable. So it whether their attention is on the music or the breathing or something else.

Jacobs was pretty clear that he never wanted a student's attention on the embouchure. Jacobs also never really discussed correct embouchure mechanics, even though the information was available during his life. He either didn't know about it, or strongly felt that it wasn't important enough to consider.

There's a lot that worth applying in our teaching and practice that Jacobs said. But I don't consider him a good source on embouchure technique.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Doug Elliott » Sun May 02, 2021 4:41 pm

I wonder if, in the entire field of music, any other prominent teacher of any instrument or voice has made their mark suggesting the musician should NOT know how they do their craft, and should not work on the mechanics of it.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by harrisonreed » Sun May 02, 2021 5:33 pm

In the Arnold Jacobs video at around 4:40 he says "if we could use electronic stimulus to vibrate the lips, we wouldn't need air....(the horn amplifies the vibrating lips)"

This is not at all how brass instruments work. Misleading. Why not just use a traffic cone in the orchestra with no mouthpiece, and see how that goes?

Remarkable that such a great musician, who no doubt (I don't know maybe he didn't) helped develop instruments, and tried out mouthpieces and leadpipes to get the best possible balance he could on his instrument, would say that all R&D has nothing to do with the air going into it and vibrating and is basically just a megaphone for buzzing lips.

The entire video and teaching method is showing its age.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by FOSSIL » Mon May 03, 2021 3:46 am

Health warning to the argumentative.... this is basically a Reinhardt forum and any mention of Jacobs will not end well. Just let it go and don't mention AJ any more.
Puzzles me why we argue about teachers from more than half a century ago....have we not moved on in any way at all in all these years ? Nothing new ?

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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by baileyman » Mon May 03, 2021 4:52 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 5:33 pm
In the Arnold Jacobs video at around 4:40 he says "if we could use electronic stimulus to vibrate the lips, we wouldn't need air....(the horn amplifies the vibrating lips)"

This is not at all how brass instruments work. Misleading. Why not just use a traffic cone in the orchestra with no mouthpiece, and see how that goes?

Remarkable that such a great musician, who no doubt (I don't know maybe he didn't) helped develop instruments, and tried out mouthpieces and leadpipes to get the best possible balance he could on his instrument, would say that all R&D has nothing to do with the air going into it and vibrating and is basically just a megaphone for buzzing lips.

The entire video and teaching method is showing its age.
Ask and you shall receive:

https://asa.scitation.org/doi/10.1121/1.424375

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The ... _228887506

https://era.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/13512
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by harrisonreed » Mon May 03, 2021 5:26 am

baileyman wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 4:52 am
harrisonreed wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 5:33 pm
In the Arnold Jacobs video at around 4:40 he says "if we could use electronic stimulus to vibrate the lips, we wouldn't need air....(the horn amplifies the vibrating lips)"

This is not at all how brass instruments work. Misleading. Why not just use a traffic cone in the orchestra with no mouthpiece, and see how that goes?

Remarkable that such a great musician, who no doubt (I don't know maybe he didn't) helped develop instruments, and tried out mouthpieces and leadpipes to get the best possible balance he could on his instrument, would say that all R&D has nothing to do with the air going into it and vibrating and is basically just a megaphone for buzzing lips.

The entire video and teaching method is showing its age.
Ask and you shall receive:

https://asa.scitation.org/doi/10.1121/1.424375

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The ... _228887506

https://era.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/13512
Those experiments seem to include air in the mix though ... That's not what Jacobs was talking about. He mentioned no air and electrically stimulated vibration. Let's imagine .... Erm ... Two electric razors put together like lips and then turned on. They no doubt make a tone of some sort. Then you put those up against the mouthpiece of a horn like lips. According to Jacobs, the horn amplifies that and makes a tone with no air.

That is craziness
Last edited by harrisonreed on Mon May 03, 2021 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by BGuttman » Mon May 03, 2021 6:06 am

You can't get the lip reed vibrating without air flow. Try it some time. ;)

(Same thing goes for reed reed systems; and especially for flutes, where the vibration is caused by air on a sharp edge.)
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by slidefunk » Mon May 03, 2021 9:51 am

FOSSIL wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 3:46 am
Health warning to the argumentative.... this is basically a Reinhardt forum and any mention of Jacobs will not end well. Just let it go and don't mention AJ any more.
Jeez, no kidding lol
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Kbiggs » Mon May 03, 2021 10:44 am

FOSSIL wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 3:46 am
Health warning to the argumentative.... this is basically a Reinhardt forum and any mention of Jacobs will not end well. Just let it go and don't mention AJ any more.
Puzzles me why we argue about teachers from more than half a century ago....have we not moved on in any way at all in all these years ? Nothing new ?

Chris
I hope this doesn’t come across as argumentative...

We don’t know why Jacobs avoided talking about embouchure. He usually talked around the subject by saying that it should be driven (my words) by the air and controlled by the brain/mind. We do know that he advocated and demonstrated lip buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing though, which are shown in the vide clip above. It is curious. I speculated above why this might be the case.

Side note... we can argue about the relative merits of teaching schools and philosophies until the cows come home. Certainly, every teacher and teaching philosophy has limitations. Using Jacobs as a whipping-boy doesn’t seem terribly pertinent or even important to this thread. There are other teachers and schools of playing that avoid talking about embouchure as well. There are other teachers and schools of playing that discourage free-buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing. Still, there are lots of people who can do one or the other, or both. There are also people (no doubt some fine players) who can’t do one or the other, or even both. Vive la differénce!

At any rate, I can free-buzz and mouthpiece buzz, I do free-buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing, and I will continue to do so.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Savio » Mon May 03, 2021 12:14 pm

FOSSIL wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 3:46 am
Health warning to the argumentative.... this is basically a Reinhardt forum and any mention of Jacobs will not end well. Just let it go and don't mention AJ any more.
Puzzles me why we argue about teachers from more than half a century ago....have we not moved on in any way at all in all these years ? Nothing new ?

Chris
:good: :good:

I admit I don't have much knowledge about any method. But didn't the man we shouldn't mention :D even have string players with elbow problems and he helped them? Must have known a lot about the body then? Well back to buzzing, I buzz a little as warm up. Seems to help me get ready quicker for playing.

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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by harrisonreed » Mon May 03, 2021 4:19 pm

FOSSIL wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 3:46 am
Health warning to the argumentative.... this is basically a Reinhardt forum and any mention of Jacobs will not end well. Just let it go and don't mention AJ any more.
Puzzles me why we argue about teachers from more than half a century ago....have we not moved on in any way at all in all these years ? Nothing new ?

Chris
I think it is because some prominent teachers of today are still hanging on by their nails to this outdated stuff. "I knew a guy who knew a guy who studied under Jacobs. And I had one lesson with their brother" That sort of thing.

At least from what I can gather, that is a credential still: "Dr. So-and-so, professor of trombone. Had one lesson with a guy who shared a beer with the brother of Reinhardt's student's cousin"

You see it in the Bible and in the Illiad.

"I am Tuberculosiscles, the cousin of the great grandson of Bobicus, who was begat by the illegitimate child of Zeus and Heracles' sister with his seamstress' sister-in-law. My grandfather knew someone who witnessed the sacking of Thebes, so therefore you should fear my spear and quake in fear!"

And, wordless, Achilles dispatched Tuberculosiscles with a swift spear to the tendon that connects the neck to the collarbone, leaving his teeth to bite down on the crumpled bronze spearhead, as his soul crawled out onto the sand towards Hades and his eyes darkened.

We can look to Homer for the answer!
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Wilktone » Mon May 03, 2021 5:27 pm

I don't care who offers an idea, when it was said, what instrument they played, what genre of music they performed, what color their hair was, or even how good a player or teacher they are/were. Playing and teaching advice should stand on its own merit. Does it makes sense and can it be shown to be effective? I'm perfectly willing to criticize (and compliment) Jacobs (I've done both above), but I've also been known to do the same to Reinhardt (and others, including people involved in this conversation). And, for that matter, I'm willing to have a critical eye turned back on me. I'd rather have a heated discussion about a topic that hang out in an echo chamber.

One of the issues we have is that there's a tendency to separate things into teaching philosophies or "schools" of brass playing. While it can be helpful to label things in some ways to help us communicate broader concepts in fewer words, it also sometimes brings out our tribal nature. Criticism of one or two topics from our favorite pedagogue's method doesn't mean we have to radically change our whole approach. If our whole system of playing and teaching falls apart that easily, then perhaps that's for the good.

Returning to the topic of mouthpiece buzzing, I spent about 20 minutes today downloading a number of articles and papers that showed up on a college library search for mouthpiece buzzing. A lot of them are one person's recommendations and simply state mouthpiece buzzing is useful (or not) without offering any rational why (or why not). There are a small number that look more objectively at the topic. When I have time to read through them more carefully I'll report if I find anything interesting or helpful.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by VJOFan » Mon May 03, 2021 6:12 pm

PosauneCat wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:08 pm
Those of you who do a lot of mouthpiece buzzing:

Do you think your mouthpiece placement and musculature is EXACTLY the same as when you are blowing through the horn?

Mike Coyle
Everything is beneficially different. I can do things on the mouthpiece that inform what I want to do when inserting the mouthpiece into the lead pipe. I haven’t found a more effective way to promote air flow. I haven’t found a more effective way to improve my facility in the high range.

I didn’t like buzzing as a habitual part of my practice (sing it, buzz it , play it for example) but as a specific training for concentrated periods for a targeted outcome, it can be great.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by baileyman » Tue May 04, 2021 6:30 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 5:26 am
Those experiments seem to include air in the mix though ... That's not what Jacobs was talking about. He mentioned no air and electrically stimulated vibration. Let's imagine .... Erm ... Two electric razors put together like lips and then turned on. They no doubt make a tone of some sort. Then you put those up against the mouthpiece of a horn like lips. According to Jacobs, the horn amplifies that and makes a tone with no air.

That is craziness
Some craziness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZvDvuxjHvU
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by BGuttman » Tue May 04, 2021 6:46 am

Note that he's still using air to make the lips buzz. His contraption just prevents that air from going into the instrument. So he's still buzzing.

Very interesting clip, Baileyman, although I think I remember seeing it before.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Wilktone » Tue May 04, 2021 7:14 am

I haven't been able to find any description, but I believe that there were some acoustical studies that used some sort of mechanical oscillator to produce tones on brass instruments and research the physics of the sound. You could produce a tone on the trombone by inhaling back against the lips and setting them to vibrate.

But the idea that the instrument is merely an amplifier isn't accurate. If that were so it would be played more like the mouthpiece buzzing, where any pitch could be buzzed.

I think it was briefly mentioned above that the mouthpiece also has an overtone series, but it's just very high and when we buzz on the mouthpiece we're well below the fundamental of the mouthpiece.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by timothy42b » Tue May 04, 2021 7:49 am

Wilktone wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 7:14 am
I haven't been able to find any description, but I believe that there were some acoustical studies that used some sort of mechanical oscillator to produce tones on brass instruments and research the physics of the sound. You could produce a tone on the trombone by inhaling back against the lips and setting them to vibrate.
Impedance charts are done with a signal generator, a speaker attached to the horn, and a swept frequency signal input. At least in the old days, that's one way they were done. Sometimes the speaker went on the mouthpiece end, sometimes the bell end I think.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by timothy42b » Tue May 04, 2021 7:52 am

Wilktone wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 7:14 am


But the idea that the instrument is merely an amplifier isn't accurate. If that were so it would be played more like the mouthpiece buzzing, where any pitch could be buzzed.

Well, it would amplify those frequencies where the instrument's wind column had a resonance. But what Jacobs missed I think is that it also stabilizes the pitch. The reflection from the bell arrives at the correct time to assist the lips to close (if it's a pressure valley) or open (if a pressure peak).
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by baileyman » Tue May 04, 2021 9:39 am

timothy42b wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 7:52 am
Wilktone wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 7:14 am


But the idea that the instrument is merely an amplifier isn't accurate. If that were so it would be played more like the mouthpiece buzzing, where any pitch could be buzzed.

Well, it would amplify those frequencies where the instrument's wind column had a resonance. But what Jacobs missed I think is that it also stabilizes the pitch. The reflection from the bell arrives at the correct time to assist the lips to close (if it's a pressure valley) or open (if a pressure peak).
The exponential horn definitely emphasizes the standing wave pitches, but it does seem that it will act as a megaphone in-between. Buzzing between partials does seem to come out louder than free buzz, and I would suppose it's the impedance matching of the bell area that does that.

I have an old megaphone and it seems to do that coupling without much color. BTW, it sure is nice to hear some language that not just an emphatic guess.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by harrisonreed » Tue May 04, 2021 1:32 pm

baileyman wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 6:30 am
harrisonreed wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 5:26 am


Those experiments seem to include air in the mix though ... That's not what Jacobs was talking about. He mentioned no air and electrically stimulated vibration. Let's imagine .... Erm ... Two electric razors put together like lips and then turned on. They no doubt make a tone of some sort. Then you put those up against the mouthpiece of a horn like lips. According to Jacobs, the horn amplifies that and makes a tone with no air.

That is craziness
Some craziness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZvDvuxjHvU
Ok, yeah. You could put a trombone bell up to a phonograph and sound will go through it. It might even be amplified like a megaphone. You can buzz on a mouthpiece and then insert it into the leadpipe and some sort of sorry buzz sound will come out the other end.

Did you not hear how bad all the "notes" were that he played? I have never argued that a horn couldn't be used as a megaphone, but only that it shouldn't. The physics of how those sound/air waves compress into a tube to make a stable sound is why some horns sound a certain way and why some players sound really good. That video sounded pretty horrible, ("haha, now you can tongue way faster than your friends" :roll: ) and you can't be seriously citing this video as an example of not needing air to make music on brass...

It just muddies the water, honestly.
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Re: mouthpiece buzzing...opinions

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue May 04, 2021 2:30 pm

He's right: playing it in reverse sucks.
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