Buzz or No Buzz

Mello

Active Member
I have noticed an increasing number of Tutors offering private Brass lessons /tuition ( on various instruments ) both on line and off. It set me wondering if they are still using Buzzing methods these days. If so what percentage. I am simply curious, one tutor recently told me she is using Suzuki method with youngsters, and another is teaching 'non pressure '.with cnts suspended by string. I am curious in the Buzz.. V.. No Buzz .
 
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trumpetb

New Member
It is my understanding that the playing with zero pressure on an instrument suspended by strings was solely a demonstration of the possibility of doing so with a well developed embouchure and was never intended as a serious practice tool.

The originator of this technique is said to have regretted having demonstrated it after many well meaning tutors and students took up the zero pressure method.

Always there must be pressure or the mouthpiece cannot properly seal against the lips and the instrument will not sound properly.

I have many times demonstrated very low pressure playing with the instrument resting on the flat of the hand so I advocate low pressure myself although I do not teach or advise zero pressure using strings to support the instrument.

As for buzzing I do not advocate buzzing at all I have never found it to assist my development and my progress has been rapid without it.

I cannot and will not challenge either zero pressure or buzzing, and this is simply because many good teachers place great faith in these techniques and claim to have achieved good results in teaching using them.

I have observed a split into two camps on both methods which has no appearance of declining.

I do think that using excess pressure is the biggest handicap to becoming a well rounded and well developed artist today with some chronic and debilitating injuries being caused by excess pressure so the sooner we rid ourselves of it the better.

Brian
 

Mello

Active Member
I cannot and will not challenge either zero pressure or buzzing, and this is simply because many good teachers place great faith in these techniques and claim to have achieved good results in teaching using them.
My reason for asking the question is pure curiosity. I myself was started by use of the 'Tea leaf method ' . ie '' Spit a tea leaf off your tongue and keep blowing'' method.!
I also will not challenge any method which is successful ....and in my experience of teaching at LCM RNCM Salford etc...have encountered most. By far the majority who responded to my question certainly favour 'Buzzing ' . BUT -- I even discovered world famous players who are completely against it , and even blame Buzzing for causing major problems. A fascinating situation.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
I even discovered world famous players who are completely against it , and even blame Buzzing for causing major problems

It's interesting indeed!

I wonder sometimes whether some people are happy to just have something to scapegoat to get rid of a mental hangup?

I've found, for example, that practicing pedal tones really messes me up (I'm a sop player, so they're certainly not notes I need!) - could be that I'm just not doing it right, or could be that for whatever reason those exercises do me a real disservice whilst others find them useful... Besides knowing I shouldn't practice them, I can't really say - but knowing not to touch them is enough somehow.


I myself was started by use of the 'Tea leaf method ' . ie '' Spit a tea leaf off your tongue and keep blowing'' method.!

Likewise! For some reason, though, this led to my younger self thinking this was the way to articulate every note (tongue between lips rather than behind teeth) which took a concerted effort on the part of my second teacher to break me of.

...

As far as buzzing goes... Some of my teachers pushed it and some didn't, but considering I haven't had a lesson in 15 or so years (to my detriment I'm sure) I don't really know whether things have changed.

It does seem interesting how different some of the approaches seem to be from a lay perspective - and yet teachers seem to have hits and misses with just about all of these... Perhaps some students just aren't hard working enough, or perhaps each method only works as well as the students suitability for it allows?

Indeed fascinating, as you say.
 
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trumpetb

New Member
Curiosity far from killing the cat makes us aspire to great things and has led us to where we are today so I love curiosity.

A wise man said once "there are no bad questions there are however bad answers"

Thats also a good point about the many approaches to crack the nut that different teachers use.

I suspect that the problem and the solution is difficult to articulate and even more difficult for a student to see progress when applying the methods suggested.

I know that in my case I often seem to go backwards when practicing diligently and that makes me question what I am doing and if the method I am practicing is actually helping me. I think other students are probably experiencing the same issues.

I have also found that often something that makes sense to one student simply does not work for other students and articulating it in a different way can help the penny drop so to speak. Maybe different students need different approaches.

I think you nailed it when you said "each method only works as well as the students suitability for it allows"

I once saw a teacher a very skilled and talented educator confronted by a student who said "last week you told me to do this thing one way but this week you are telling me to do the same thing in a new and different way, why change the teaching? was the old way wrong?" the teacher replied "that method last week was for where you were last week and you now need a new method to progress beyond last week"

That was a revelation for me to understand that a students needs can change radically in just a few days.

There is a quite famous poem

Come to the edge he said.
We might fall they said.
Come to the edge he said.
It's too high! they said
COME TO THE EDGE! HE SAID
And they came And he pushed And they flew

This speaks of preparing the student to excel beyond their expectations

If the teacher takes them to the edge too soon, before they are ready, they will fall

When the teacher prepares them correctly they will be able to fly and that is the job of a teacher I believe, to prepare, to build, and then to push, and they will fly.

And I think that teachers finding different ways is a good thing and shows intense resourcefulness in teachers in finding the right way for students to develop.

Brian
 

Mello

Active Member
It's interesting indeed!

I wonder sometimes whether some people are happy to just have something to scapegoat to get rid of a mental hangup?

I've found, for example, that practicing pedal tones really messes me up (I'm a sop player, so they're certainly not notes I need!) - could be that I'm just not doing it right, or could be that for whatever reason those exercises do me a real disservice whilst others find them useful... Besides knowing I shouldn't practice them, I can't really say - but knowing not to touch them is enough somehow.




Likewise! For some reason, though, this led to my younger self thinking this was the way to articulate every note (tongue between lips rather than behind teeth) which took a concerted effort on the part of my second teacher to break me of.

...

As far as buzzing goes... Some of my teachers pushed it and some didn't, but considering I haven't had a lesson in 15 or so years (to my detriment I'm sure) I don't really know whether things have changed.

It does seem interesting how different some of the approaches seem to be from a lay perspective - and yet teachers seem to have hits and misses with just about all of these... Perhaps some students just aren't hard working enough, or perhaps each method only works as well as the students suitability for it allows?

Indeed fascinating, as you say.
I guess most Brass players ( certainly of my age ) will have heard of Philip Smith ex Principal Trumpet of the NewYork Philharmonic for many years. You can hear him on You tube...a wonderful player. Here is an interesting extract from an interview he gave,,, after being asked about recovering from the dreaded Dystonia
It's interesting indeed!

I wonder sometimes whether some people are happy to just have something to scapegoat to get rid of a mental hangup?

I've found, for example, that practicing pedal tones really messes me up (I'm a sop player, so they're certainly not notes I need!) - could be that I'm just not doing it right, or could be that for whatever reason those exercises do me a real disservice whilst others find them useful... Besides knowing I shouldn't practice them, I can't really say - but knowing not to touch them is enough somehow.




Likewise! For some reason, though, this led to my younger self thinking this was the way to articulate every note (tongue between lips rather than behind teeth) which took a concerted effort on the part of my second teacher to break me of.

...

As far as buzzing goes... Some of my teachers pushed it and some didn't, but considering I haven't had a lesson in 15 or so years (to my detriment I'm sure) I don't really know whether things have changed.

It does seem interesting how different some of the approaches seem to be from a lay perspective - and yet teachers seem to have hits and misses with just about all of these... Perhaps some students just aren't hard working enough, or perhaps each method only works as well as the students suitability for it allows?

Indeed fascinating, as you say.
Most players of my age will know of Philip Smith ex Principal T/pet NY Philharmonic for many , many yrs. He was hit with the dreaded Dystonia and had to retire......During an interview about his illustrious career, when asked how he recovered ....He said he had to STOP buzzing ...he WAS a prolific buzzer, practising on his mp . but had to retrain ...and refrain from buzzing. I have a brill short video of him describing his struggle and how ...with help ...retrained. Unfortunately even tho I reduced the clip to a zip file(from 49.5mb to 10mb ). This site rejects the file as too large. If anyone knows how to get round this...please let me know & I will post it.
 

pbirch

Active Member
Christian Lindberg did a demo about buzzing which was interesting (if not of much practical application) if you buzz a note and plug your mouthpiece into the instrument the note sounds pretty awful, but if you remove the mouthpiece while you are playing a good note there is no sound - like I say interesting but not of much use
 

Mello

Active Member
Christian Lindberg did a demo about buzzing which was interesting (if not of much practical application) if you buzz a note and plug your mouthpiece into the instrument the note sounds pretty awful, but if you remove the mouthpiece while you are playing a good note there is no sound - like I say interesting but not of much use
I suggest you go onto Youtube and watch either
1)Phil Smith
2) T/pet Physics Pt 1

3) Allen Vizzutti Trumpet clinic Parts 1 & 2

They all make sense of your sentence ; '' but if you remove the mouthpiece while you are playing a good note there is no sound - like I say interesting but not of much use''

Cheers G
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
It does seem interesting how different some of the approaches seem to be from a lay perspective - and yet teachers seem to have hits and misses with just about all of these... Perhaps some students just aren't hard working enough, or perhaps each method only works as well as the students suitability for it allows?
If I've learnt one thing through the many subjects I've studied over the years - from electronics to firing a steam engine - it's that, when it comes to learning, there is no such thing as a 'one-size-fits-all' method. You can state general principles, which apply to most people in most situations, but there are always going to be the human curve balls 😉 . . . (and I've been a devout and practising member of that subversive organisation since birth!)

Oddly enough, I was talking about this to my very gifted riding instructor only a few weeks ago. She said that with virtually all of her pupils, she has to constantly encourage them to lengthen their stirrups, because of their tendency to curl up like a monkey on the horse's back. This apparently makes them feel safer - but in reality it makes their seat less stable, and they're more likely to fall off.

"You're the only one I have to tell to shorten your stirrups at times - and you're the only one who says that you feel better and more stable riding without stirrups at all!"

She did say, though, that a young horse which I'm helping her to train up responds much quicker to tiny touches of my ankle on her flanks when I'm riding without stirrups - and I pointed out that's because I can get my heel in exactly the right place to give her a tiny nudge at just the right time, and it's a damn sight easier without the stirrup getting in my way.

But would she - or I - advocate telling all learners to ride without stirrups? No way! If they are confident enough, as some complete novices are, then I think it could work very well for them and speed their progress. In other cases, though, I think it would hammer their confidence so much that they would go rigid, trying to clamp their legs onto the horse, and that would be disastrous for both their learning and their safety.

Thank you for starting this very interesting thread, @Mello - and best regards,
Jack
 

Stevieb

New Member
Don't know about Tutors but it's Buzz for me, I often buzz in the car on the way to rehearsals, whether that's right or wrong from you academics, it works for me.
 

Mello

Active Member
Don't know about Tutors but it's Buzz for me, I often buzz in the car on the way to rehearsals, whether that's right or wrong from you academics, it works for me.
Believe me... I am no academic ....just a plain Secondary Schooling .I have no standpoint , as I accept it fully if folk are happy with it and it works for them.
My intro to playing was spit the tea leaf off your tongue and keep blowing. Thats it, we didnt do any instrumental music at my school. Now I am well into my retirement, I was just curious to see if I had been doing it wrong or not. That was after reading about the subject on Social media.
 

Mello

Active Member
Believe me... I am no academic ....just a plain Secondary Schooling .I have no standpoint , as I accept it fully if folk are happy with it and it works for them.
My intro to playing was spit the tea leaf off your tongue and keep blowing. Thats it, we didnt do any instrumental music at my school. Now I am well into my retirement, I was just curious to see if I had been doing it wrong or not. That was after reading about the subject on Social media.
 

trumpetb

New Member
I dont consider myself a teacher and I hesitate from giving advice that could be confused with teaching but I would like to share my opinion.

New students often sound blatty and have very poor tone much like a duck quacking loudly.

All we have is our tone and the quality of a player is clearly evidenced by the sophistication of his or her tone.

If a student begins their studies by buzzing he or she has no yardstick to guage the tone they produce and the student has immense difficulty smoothing the edges and sounding good when buzzing alone without being able to hear the tones emerging from the bell of the instrument.

This can easily suggest that buzzing is bad for a student.

However

If a student is developing or has developed good smooth tone then they will have built or are building the embouchure and chops that lead to good tone, and buzzing can definitely assist that player to continue to develop well without causing the blatty issues that so often plague poor players.

In other words the player needs to have developed the skills to benefit from buzzing practice for it to definitely help them.

For this reason I believe that with experience and under good tutelage and guidance buzzing can help, but without it buzzing can either set a player back or prevent development in some critical areas relating to tone development.

I cannot tell you how many times I have listened to performers who have very poor loud and rough sounding tone and I feel that too much unguided and untutored buzzing has contributed to this issue. Whereas there are many great sounding players who promote buzzing and that confirms it has benefits and can aid correct development.

So the answer for me is it depends and I think that is why there are two schools of thought on this.

This is just my personal opinion and I simply offer it.
 

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