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[Solved] lead pipe buzzing using a straw

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Is there something critical about a lead pipe (or any other buzzing assist device).  I'm assuming that the benefit is that it adds some resistance compared to just mouthpiece buzzing.  I've found that attaching a simple drinking straw to the mouthpiece works well.  An ordinary straw fits inside the mouthpiece (reverse of the mouthpiece lead pipe orientation).  I've also found some straws that are larger in diameter such that the mouthpiece fits inside the straw (same as the mouthpiece in a lead pipe).  By altering the length (cutting straw) I can have different harmonic pitches. By pinching the straw or partially blocking the straw I can alter the resistance.  With respect to harmonic pitch, the straw seems superior to the lead pipe as you can easily have several straws at different pitches to practice (straws are cheap).  With respect to resistance ...should I attempt to mimic the resistance of my lead pipe or should I attempt to mimic the resistance of the whole trumpet ....i.e. is there an optimum resistance?  Assume the primary focus is trying to generate a full resonate sound regardless of buzzing, mouthpeice buzzing, lead pipe buzzing, or trumpet playing.

1 Answer

Hi John, have you watched the lesson on leadpipe buzzing?

Using other devices to buzz is fine, but remember this, nothing will mimic the resistance of the trumpet exactly. No straw or pipe or anything will do that. And that is not the point of leadpipe buzzing. Leadpipe buzzing develops aural accuracy and minute embouchure changes which are helpful when playing the actual trumpet (for some players.)

Having said that, none of this really matters until the player reaches a certain level, because there are so many more important aspects of trumpet playing that should receive more attention in the first 1-6 years.

A lot of professionals don't even buzz at all. And that says something very important about the subjectivity of the exercise.

If you're wondering if you should buzz, just try it and see if you feel better for the day. I not, don't bother with it. As far as optimal resistance? Well, that depends on why you are buzzing. If a student has a tight tone, I'm going to have them buzz with a device with high resistance to open up the tone. On the other hand if the student has a tone that is too wide and spread I would recommend buzzing the leadpipe in soft volume to refocus the aperture. So you see what I mean? It's all subjective to the player, the experience and the real reason behind buzzing. When in doubt I find it more beneficial to focus on moving long tones and flow exercises before buzzing, and most of my students have found success in doing just that. After all, buzzing will always be there when you want to try it again.

I hope that helps!

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