Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sirens and Songs

Imagine that you are a great artist stranded on a remote island with no horn, just your mouthpiece. Not to stress. You have all you need to get a whole lot accomplished before the next boat arrives with your trumpet. Wait till they hear what has happened to your sound! Here's a free and easy remedy for that grainy fuzzy tone. Who knows? After they hear the results of your having no trumpet, some remote island might become the site for the next worldwide brass convention!

Sorry, nothing profound here, just hopefully a couple of useful and helpful reminders for sound improvement. No need for the horn yet. Let's go first for sirens and songs.

Gently buzz siren-like glissandi, holding the mouthpiece with maximum of three fingers and very little pressure. Produce absolutely clear tones in a very soft dynamic without any fuzz whatsoever. Start in an easy register for comfortable ups and downs while always maintaining purity of tone. Fuzzy lack of center and ghost areas in your register mean you simply need to get better at this.

Increase your range only if you earn an all-clear to proceed. Carelessness with your buzzing guarantees notes without ring or focus, but a pure buzz will produce a pure trumpet tone every time.

When you get to the highest note of your siren, freeze briefly to make sure there is no straining or embouchure collapsing before you slide back down. Avoid pinching and squeezing for the upper sounds. Air speed ought to increase as you ascend. Rest frequently. Reenter on pitch and increase range gradually. Your goal is embouchure comfort and tone center. Keep adding higher and lower notes to your siren range insisting on quality and ease. Don't neglect full breaths.

Remember, less pressure, more tone. Just place mouthpiece and blow. Note response should resemble the piano which speaks as soon as it is touched.

Next you're ready for songs. Still using just the mouthpiece, minimal pressure, and a conservative dynamic, you may pick your tunes of the day. The simpler and the shorter the better. No modulating and no jamming mouthpiece into the embouchure permitted. Pure artistry and amazing effortlessness. Enjoy this. The next boat arrives shortly. Bummer.

7 comments:

Jon said...

Very sound (excuse the pun!) mouthpiece advice!

Phil Collins said...

Buzzing is becoming the buzz.

Travis said...

I tell my students that the mouthpiece is the instrument, and that the trumpet is an amplifier. The trumpet will not make the tone any better or worse, only more loud.

chickpea123uk said...

I tried this, but my son told me I "sounded like an aarvark in terrible pain". More buzzing practice required I think (but wait til my son is out of the house)

BubbaJay said...

Although many players advocate free buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing, I am yet to be persuaded of the benefits to one's playing, mainly because nobody explains in detail what they are. Indeed, if overdone, buzzing can have a very detrimental affect to one's sound.

The way that one's lips buzz when the mouthpiece is inserted in the lead pipe is entirely different - the shank of the mouthpiece isn't long enough to create the standing wave - i.e. your lips buzz when caught between the air being pushed out of your lungs and the resistance of the air in the lead pipe. They also buzz loosely, rather than the tight buzzing one does without the instrument.

Also, the trumpet certainly isn't an amplifier for any sound made in the mouthpiece - volume comes from pushing a stronger airflow into the instrument. And if you were to insert the mouthpiece whilst buzzing it, you would create a very strained noise in the trumpet, as many young learners do, often through faulty teaching about how a sound is produced.

My conclusions are that if there are benefits then most players probably free-buzz incorrectly and that standard embouchure-developing exercises on the trumpet are just as good and less risky.

I think a detailed explanation here of how and why to buzz would be of great benefit to a lot of players, especially if it explains what benefits it provides which standard trumpet practice doesn't.

Phil Collins said...

The debate continues. I remember being on the skeptical side, insisting that the tone on the mouthpiece is tighter and not as full as with the trumpet. Therefore an adjustment needed to be made once the mouthpiece met the lead pipe. True.

I have seen so much improvement in my own playing however, and have heard better focus when students have stopped to buzz a passage, that I like the results. Perhaps the science isn't exact, but for me and most of my students, it works nicely to focus and to purify tone.

Certainly there are many players that probably never buzzed a note on their mouthpiece and still play great. Those who prefer not to include a modest portion of buzzing in their routine, no problem. I don't insist, just like that it usually brings fast results. It can be overdone of course, but so can anything good done in excess.

Appreciate the input. Lots of approaches work fine. Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

thank SO SO SO much!!! after like 3 times, my trumpet playing got REALLY REALLY good!! Thank u