From: "Chase Sanborn" <>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 23:12:09 -0500
Subject: [TPIN] buzzing (lip, mouthpiece, leadpipe)

I received a couple of questions about lip buzzing recently. I thought my reply might be of interest.


>Why is mouthpiece buzzing more effective than lip buzzing?

Because it creates an embouchure that is closer to the way you play your horn. Lip buzzing alone may encourage an embouchure that is too tense, choking off vibrations.

> I would think that a player who can lip buzz would rely on less mouthpiece pressure than a player who can only buzz with the mouthpiece.

That is possible, but again, it may encourage too much tension, robbing the sound of resonance and projection
As with all facets of brass playing, there are different schools of thought. Experiment and form your own opinions about what works best for you.

Below are excerpts from an article I published some time back. They contain pertinent info about lip buzzing, mouthpiece buzzing, and leadpipe buzzing. All three buzzing techniques are demonstrated on the Brass Tactics CD.

Free-Lip Buzzing
Buzzing the lips without the mouthpiece is the subject of some controversy. Some feel that it creates excessive embouchure tension, and I agree it has that potential. There is no question that it is a workout for the corner muscles, as they must create all the necessary tension in the absence of a mouthpiece rim

Try to buzz a pitch near a 2nd-line G, and buzz a descending scale through a few octaves, until the lips are just flapping. (f the corners stay firm you will still hear a recognizable pitch.) By not trying to buzz too high, you avoid excessive embouchure tension, and by descending into the pedal register you promote relaxation and blood circulation.

Rim Visualizer
The rim visualizer is a trumpet rim mounted to a holder. Most often sold as a device to view the action of the vibrating lips (something I've found to be of limited value) it is a useful connector between free-lip buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing. I do my mouthpiece buzzing routines on both the visualizer and the mouthpiece. I can get almost as high on the rim as on the mouthpiece. The visualizer lets you focus on the essential vibrations, and makes obvious the fact that our instrument is really our body, not the mouthpiece or trumpet.

Playing the mouthpiece in the leadpipe alone (remove the tuning slide) is advocated by Bill Adam. It often produces improvement in the ability to play a full-bodied, well-centered note, and teaches the sensation of being in sync with the resonant frequencies of a length of pipe. The leadpipe produces fairly well-slotted pitches at approximately pedal F, 1st space F, G on top of the staff, high D and high G (this will vary a bit between players). The pitches will not slot as definitively as on the trumpet, but much more than on the mouthpiece. Play each pitch several times, looking for the 'sweet spot' on each note, the perfect combination of air pressure and embouchure compression which produces maximum results. When moving to the trumpet, look for that same sensation on every pitch.

As you add the rim, mouthpiece, leadpipe, and finally the trumpet, it becomes easier to produce the lip vibrations, and you should use this to your advantage. Allow the resonance of the pipe to feed the vibrations of the lips and reduce unnecessary tension. Search for the minimum embouchure compression on each note that allows it to respond easily and with the greatest sound.

Chase Sanborn