O.J.'s Trumpet Page Exercise

Starting the buzz

The two most important physical elements in brass playing is the use of air and the vibration of the lips.

When starting to play it is very important to find the right balance between "air and vibration".

While holding the mouthpiece gently between the thumb and the index finger, blow a steady stream of air through it. Keep blowing with a relaxed open aperture until the air stream is very steady (= with the same air velocity).

Bring the index finger of the other hand below the open shank. Gradually roll the finger over the open hole. When the hole is covered one-half to two-third (see the picture), a buzz will start to sound.


1. Repeat the above several times and try to change the air speed. With faster speed, you should get a buzz sound with a higher pitch.

2. Place the mouthpiece in the trumpet and while blowing a low C, gently remove the mouthpiece while you keep blowing. The sound will stop, but keep blowing. Listen to the sound of the air and try to "remember" the air velocity.

Take a short rest and start blowing with the air speed you had when you played the low C. Use your index finger to initiate the buzz again. Did you get a buzz with the same low C pitch?

Repeat this several times.
Try a G above low C. Repeat several times.
Combine low C and middle G - see if you can "remember" the difference in air velocity.

3. Try other combinations of intervals (octave, fourth, scale steps, etc.)

Use the finger only as a "trigger" for starting the buzz - remove it when the buzz sound starts.
Don't rush into buzzing - work on the quality of the air first. (A mental image: water from a tap)

A good steady airstream will result in a good buzz sound.
A good buzz again, will result in a better sound on the trumpet.
The suggested exercises are just simple ideas - be creative and invent others - but remember, this is mainly a "tool" for finding the balance between "air and vibration".

The exercise is based on an example in Roger Sherman: "The Trumpeter's Handbook" (Chapter 5 "Tone production", page 20) and it can also be seen as a variation on the Bill Adam lead pipe exercise.

o.j. 2001