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[Solved] Lip buzzing

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Hi Estela,

Thanks for an excellent advanced course. I think that you have done an amazing work.

I have a question about buzzing:

I think that it is important that we also do lip buzzing so that we could secure that we use the right form. Perhaps we can do lip buzzing excercises according to James Stamp complemented with sirens at the end of the excercise.

We can check if we use the right form with a "peel-off" technique" according to recommendation by Charlie Porter and Vincent DiMartino.

Best Wishes


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4 Answers

Hi Ulf,

I'm glad you asked about lip buzzing, also called "free buzzing", which is a controversial technique among trumpet players. Traditionally, free-buzzing exercises have been recommended only in moderation because they require EXTRAORDINARY strength and control. Many teachers warn that the muscles used for free buzzing are not the exact same muscles used in normal playing, which in my opinion is 100% true. Clint McLaughlin "Pops" says that free buzzing is four times harder than playing the trumpet. Michael Sachs says that when lip buzzing (and mouthpiece buzzing) is done in small amounts it can be beneficial to strengthen the embouchure. However, if done too much or incorrectly, it will produce stiffness. In 1995 James Stamp was the first teacher to include free buzzing in a method book and it then became a technique people were curious about. 

Many of the world's best trumpet players never do free buzzing, or mouthpiece buzzing. Yet, they excel at every technique possible on the trumpet. One good example is one of the most famous trumpet teachers Bill Adam, who did not advocate free buzzing or mouthpiece buzzing, but replaced them with lead pipe buzzing which is much more like trumpet playing.

I never do free buzzing. I can do it with basically no effort or tension, but afterwards my tone is tight and simply not good. I do a little mouthpiece buzzing a few days a week, maybe 3-5 minutes each time. I never found it very helpful to my playing and most of the hundreds of students I've taught, it didn't do much for them either. It's worth noting that buzzing has many more benefits for advanced and pro players than beginner or intermediate players. Now some more advanced/late intermediate students get a lot of out of it, especially to hone the ear and connectivity of music making.

The peel-away method Charlie Porter does is something I don't like at all. I think Charlie is a great player, but his videos should be taken with a grain of salt. We must remember that he is a professional. I have 4 students who learned trumpet watching his videos...they were all messed up by the time I got them. Not because Charlie's ideas are bad, but because they are not for beginner/intermediate players teaching themselves. I may sound like a real stick in the mud, but ANY new technique should be done under the guidance of a professional instructor, or the risk for error and developing bad habits is actually very high on brass instruments. Now, why is the peel-away technique misleading? Because even though Charlie says to "relax the lips when they go back to the mouthpiece" most players won't do this. They will unconsciously take the tension needed for the free buzz to the actual playing and end up with a tight, closed tone. Again, this isn't to say Charlie's videos are bad, I like them, however, inexperienced players will inevitably twist and turn the ideas and physical changes needed to achieve the things he talks about.

I haven't see Vince talking about the peel-away tech. Maybe drop the link here?

So....thanks for reading the novel! You can try the techniques and if they help you can continue, but always in very small amounts. 

I'm working on more videos for us to play together throughout the course and such. Keep it up!



I use spit buzzing which probably more or less the same as lip buzzing and it has helped me but it uses a different technique that goes against some of the teachings of this site so I don’t really know if you can incorporate lip buzzing into this system because you have to play with your tongue in a different position. 

TrumpetHeadquarters 25/11/2020 8:41 pm

I'm not a method teacher, meaning I draw from many methods and apply them to the student as needed. I wouldn't be against to doing a lip buzzing lesson for the course if it will be 1) conducive to strong embouchure development and 2) helpful to most people. I have shaped hundreds of players without ever doing lip buzzing with them, only a few here and there, and they turn out great, so of course, you can see where my hesitation comes from. I myself don't do it either...but maybe I should do a lesson on it, pros and cons. I'm definitely not against it.

Could you elaborate on what you said about lip buzzing and tongue position? What position is that and how is it different from the tongue level discussed in the course? I've never heard of any particular tongue level for lip buzzing so I'm very interested.



In spit buzzing the tongue is through the teeth and the tip of the tongue touches the bottom lip. You then use the tongue to compress the air to play high. But with the tip of the tongue against the bottom lip you have to tongue different. Pros you have better range endurance and power cons you have to use a very efficient mouthpiece you cannot use a Bach mouthpiece or anything that is like a Bach mouthpiece. You have to use a small double cup mouthpiece. Since you are using the tongue to compress the air lip strength becomes less important warming up becomes less important doing scales or whatever to build lip strength becomes less important long notes also become less important. There is more information out there but I don’t promote people so I won’t give names.

TrumpetHeadquarters 26/11/2020 6:01 am

Oh, you’re referring to TCE method right? The Tongue Controlled Embouchure made popular by Callet? I don’t call it spit buzzing, hence the confusion.


Roger Rheault 26/11/2020 10:46 am

Yes I am referring to the Callet method I never studied under Jerry I studied under one of his students.


Oh I see. Yea, pretty controversial method and the whole history around it is highly debated in the pedagogue community. It's interesting! I say if it works works for you go for it, especially if trumpet is a hobby.

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