Date: Sun, 5 May 2002 19:17:00 -0400
From: sabutin <>
Subject: Re: [TPIN] Bad Buzz

There are some good ideas here, but they all require "thought".

Where to put the tongue?

Open or closed aperture?

Too big, too small?

Anchor tonguing or not?

This list of "yes + no" ideas could go on forever. We've all experienced them, and the truth of the matter is, each and every one of them "work" for some number of players. (If they didn't, we'd never have heard of them.)

However...they also DON'T work for others.

A teacher who advocates specific yesses + nos regarding the physical setups and techniques used to play a brass instrument is only as successful as the percentage of people who come to him for whom his approach "works". Most really well known teachers have a moderately high success rate, and over a period of years they become well known because of the 2 or 20 or 200 players who use their ideas successfully.

What is not generally known is that they also have a moderately high failure rate. You don't hear about the players who studied w/teacher X who couldn't get it together, about the ones whose chops were ruined, people who became refrigerator salesmen or scuffled all of their lives w/an inefficient embouchure. They just "weren't good enough".

In many cases, this simply isn't true...they simply weren't taught well.

In my experience, there is only one way for a student to discover what works FOR HIM, and that is by deductive rather than inductive reasoning.

Let me explain...

Most of us have good days and bad, good areas in our playing and not so good areas.


This will be different for each and every one of us. A lanky 6 footer with a long, thin face and a short fat person w/fat lips are going to have different ways of producing a note on the horn. Ditto someone who wants to be an orchestral player and someone who wants to sound more like Art Farmer or Masynard.There is simply  NO way to quantify these differences; each one of us have to find out for ourself.

BUT...most teachers teach INductively. "Do it this way; don't do it that way. Put the m'pce here; breathe like this. Do anchor the tongue; do NOT anchor the tongue...etc.

Sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't.

So it goes, have a nice life...

Yet almost none of us got much past high school w/out having SOMETHING going on the horn. Some innate musicality at the very least, maybe a good sound or some range + strength...

As I mentioned in another post, I studied at some length...15 years, really, because we became personal friends until his death ... with Carmine Caruso. Carmine was the ONLY teacher I ever met who solved this problem, and he did so by having NO rules.

Only exercises.

Do this simple exercise this do THIS one...

And the basis of all of them was to isolate a strength of some sort and then extend it to other places. Not once in 15 years did he EVER say to me ANYTHING about where to put the tongue or m'pce, "how" to breathe,...none of the things you hear from so many teachers...

Just "Do this exercise in good time." It was in the choice of exercises that his genius evinced itself, and this is the main reason why the so-called "Carmine Caruso" method books really aren't very good.

There WAS no "Carmine Caruso Method". Only Carmine.

If any of you are interested in reading more on this idea from one of your cousins...I'm a trombonist/lower brass player, but the principles remain the same up and down the brass range...check out some of the articles I have written on the Online Trombone Journal.

Go to <>;from the pull down Authors menu select Burtis, Sam, and read the articles that relate to Carmine Caruso, embouchure, or buzzing.

If this stuff makes any sense to you, feel free to email me at <> if you have any questions or comments. (Or post to this list...I am subscribed to it, at least for now...)