Mouthpiece Buzzing For Doublers

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Mouthpiece Buzzing For Doublers

Post by tbone96 » Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:56 pm

Do those of you who regularly play doubles and who practice buzzing, do you practice buzzing on all of your mouthpieces? Or only on your mouthpiece for your primary instrument? When I only played bass trombone, I liked to practice buzzing because I felt it helped me play with a lot of core to my sound and with an efficient, focused buzz. Since I've started doubling tenor and (gulp) soprano, I have been buzzing less for fear of it affecting the way I play other instruments. Thanks for your help!
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing For Doublers

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:03 pm

I double, and I buzz a little, but I free buzz. I find free buzzing really only helps my high range. I only do it a minute at a time. I don't find any value in buzzing the mouthpiece by itself except as a transition to buzzing in the horn from freebuzzing. For whatever reason (maybe because I've never taken lessons as a bass player) I've never found any kind of buzzing to help my low chops. I'm not saying I'm right about that, just that's my experience. I've also had a lot of low-chop issues. I guess I'd be interested to hear from people who have actually studied as a tenor and a bass player. My second private teacher when I was in high school was a bass player, but I didn't play bass at the time. I think I got a lot of benefit from studying with him, but it didn't benefit my bass chops.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing For Doublers

Post by Redthunder » Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:26 am

I think buzzing, when done thoughtfully and in a limited manner, can surely be beneficial, as with any other kind of practice. That said, I think a lot of people like to link mouthpiece buzzing with better sound on the horn, but I've always been skeptical of this. I've always suspected it's more of a "feel" thing, than anything else. My other beef with mouthpiece buzzing is that there are many ways to get a "strong" mouthpiece buzz through bad habits that are destructive to consistent and long term success as a brass player, on any instrument. For example, you can get a mouthpiece buzz happening by blowing a ton of air through a wide open aperture. That's not, of course, to say that everyone who buzzes does this.

To second what hyperbolica said above, I too free buzz a little bit daily, and have found that to be a far more effective tool for practice, doubling or not. It forces you to zero in on the correct muscle groups used to hold an embouchure firm, and these muscles are consistent on whatever instrument you're playing. Here's a good article on free buzzing, written by Dave Wilken, who is registered on this board.

The other thing that I've found to be critical to doubling successfully without feeling like I'm wrecking my chops is a strong sense of aperture control. As a school teacher I play whatever instrument I happen to be teaching, and playing softly, thinking of less air for my first few notes, not more, helps me get comfortable and hone in on the proper amount of air that each instrument requires. Generally speaking, I find the fastest way to tire myself out whether I'm doubling or not is blowing too much air and losing control.
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