The new BERP
Mario Guarneri is a musician who has done it all from
playing Dixieland with Louis Armstrong at the age of
thirteen to fifteen seasons with the Los Angeles
Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta and Carlo Maria Giulini
conducting. He has toured Europe with the Los Angeles
Brass Quintet and performed with the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco
Symphony, Radio City Music Hall and the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Mr. Guarneri has recorded solo albums on the Crystal
and Nonsuch labels, one of which was nominated for
the Prix de Rome. He was the principal trumpet with the Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra for ten years and has played on hundreds of TV and motion picture
soundtracks -- as soloist on Lonesome Dove and Godfather III, to name a
few. He has taught trumpet for over 25 years, and is currently a trumpet
instructor at the San Francisco Conservatory, and the Music Academy of
the West. He also performs regularly with his jazz quartet in the San Francisco
In l986 he developed the Buzz Extension and Resistance
Piece (B.E.R.P.) for all brass instruments, a dynamic advancement in brass
pedagogy.We had a short "cyber talk" with Mario about the BERP:
Mario, what is a BERP?
Simply put, the Berp is the most efficient tool you can use to help
you become a better brass player. It is designed to allow you to buzz your
mouthpiece while holding the instrument in the regular playing position.
The player can then press the valves or move their slide to match the pitches
they are buzzing. The connection is made between buzzing the mouthpiece
and playing the instrument in a very real way. The benefits of buzzing
have now been increased and expanded considerably with the Berp concept.
What is the story behind the invention of the Berp?
I was introduced to the concept of buzzing the mouthpiece by the great
teacher James Stamp. Many of my ideas about how to use the Berp came from
his teaching. When working with him holding the mouthpiece with the left
hand, he would have us finger the pitches we were buzzing on the trumpet
with the other hand. I thought it would be beneficial for me and my students
to be able to actually put the two things together, buzzing the mouthpiece
and holding the instrument in playing position. The improvement in my students
playing prompted me to expand the prototypes I had developed with the help
of Bob Reeves (the mouthpiece maker in Los Angeles) to all brass instruments.
My wife, Janet Ketchum, and I then decided to form Musical Enterprises,
the Company which sells Berps all over the world.
Could you describe the new "Ultimate Berp"?
Well, the new Berp is really the result of twelve years of feedback from my colleagues, other
brassplayers and teachers, and band directors. People asked for something
that was even closer to the actual playing position- the new Berp allows
you to be within one inch of your regular playing position. They asked
for the ability to adjust the resistance- the unique dial on the new Berp
does that. They wanted to be able to go back and forth immediately between
buzzing and playing the instrument- keeping the new Berp clamped on allows
you to do that. Finally, they asked for the impossible- make it with all
of these improvements and also less expensive! We did it. The new Ultimate
Berp for all brass instruments is 20% less expensive.
How do you suggest people use the Berp?
Buzzing on the Berp puts your sound production under a "microscope". That is, whatever you are doing
or not doing with your air and embouchure will become quite obvious as
you buzz on the Berp and finger the pitches or move your slide. You can
use this tool to examine every aspect of your playing. Alternate Berping
and playing the instrument to get the most benefits. Listen carefully to
what happens to the buzz as you change notes, make slurs, play high, etc.
Articulations become "painfully" clear on the Berp. Of course, you must
solve the problems, the Berp only shows you what is wrong! Obviously it
is great to work with the Berp in the warm-up. If you listen carefully
to what you are producing with the buzz, you can focus your air and energy
in the right balance to make the most efficient use of your potential.
The sooner you do that the more results you will get from your efforts
on the instrument, and you will be a happier brass player. Even your friends
will be glad that you are working with the Berp!
What about beginners?
The sooner, the better. In every box with the Berp is a sheet with
exercises and practice suggestions. There is also a cassette tape available
with practice suggestions and examples of me buzzing and playing, and also
other professionals demonstrating buzzing and playing on horn, trombone
and tuba. The tape is a very helpful tool for the beginner and the advanced
player because it talks about the basics of sound production and the most
efficient use of your air. The tape has been translated into German, Norwegian,
Where can we purchase the Berp?
You can ask your local brass retail store, however, they may not know
about it nor have gotten the new model. The fastest and least expensive
way is to contact us directly through our web site at
You may use credit cards, or send money orders directly to our U.S. address,
Musical Enterprises, P.O. Box 1041, Larkspur CA. 94977-1041. Our phone/fax
number is 415-927-2377. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity
to talk about a product that I truly believe can help people achieve their
potential as brass players.
O.J. - 1998