Can you buzz? This is why you should! And how to.

I was wrong about how to lip buzz for many years. Now I believe I figured out how to approach it. This is really helping my playing, hope it will help yours too! I recommend that you spend the first nine minutes of your trombone practicing on this.

Ingredients:
– 2 lips
– 1 or 2 lungs
– 1 trombone mouthpiece
– one arm with hand attached (or a mouthpiece stand)
– 9 minutes of precious time

trombone buzz ingredients

Combining lip and mouthpiece buzzing

Lately, I have been experimenting with a combination of lip buzzing and mouthpiece buzzing. It has proven to be a great way to build up embouchure, as well as kick starting the lips. Using the lips attached to my specific body, I have found that lip buzzing somewhat equals mouthpiece buzzing one octave higher. In other words, a phrase played on the mouthpiece should be buzzed one octave lower on the lips to be comparable.

Buzz right or go to bed

Years ago, I occasionally did some lip buzzing trying to expand my high range. I once did this before a gig in the same dressing room as a really (as in really) good trumpet player, and he noted that I was able to lip buzz much higher than him. Since he has a world class embouchure, and plays effortlessly in any range, it got me thinking. I had seen him do some lip buzzing, and noticed that his buzzing sound was much richer and mellower than mine. This got me thinking, and I realised that I was actually lip buzzing all wrong! Continue reading

    Trombone lesson: warm up and play music (sort of) at the same time

    Playing scale patterns in all keys as a trombone warm up will make you think while playing. Why not improve your chops and get smarter at the same time? (I will cover how to get prettier in a future post…)

    You could put your trombone out in the sun for a quick warm up, but I still recommend the old fashioned way that includes actually playing on it. To get your lips soft and responsive, you should start by planing soft in a comfortable range, slowly expanding the range in both directions.

    Playing long notes, slow etudes and simple flexibility exercises is are fine ways to warm up. But in this lesson I want to focus on combining trombone warm up with getting to know your instrument better and heat up your brain at the same time.

    Trombones are not as visually laid out as a piano or a guitar. It is hard to visualise notes, and it takes a lifetime to really get under the skin of the bastard. Continue reading

      Trombone mouthpiece holiday exercise

      Holiday season is here, and in my case that means a healthy break from my dear friend mr. Small Bore Shires. I have no trouble leaving for vacation without bringing my trombone. I don´t know if that is a good or bad thing…probably good. At least I use to bring my mouthpiece, and plan to play a little every day. That usually means that I find it hidden deep down in my bag one of the last days of the vacation. This is followed by a controlled panic, and I usually start buzzing at this point. Continue reading

        Trombone lesson: Extend your range on mouthpiece

        trombone mouthpiece silverThis simple little mouthpiece exercise is actually quite effective. I recently had one of those days where both breathing and embouchure felt a bit locked in. I used these patterns to kickstart both, and was impressed with the result after just few minutes.

        Before you take the ride, please read the following instructions: Continue reading

          Flow and pitch on mouthpiece

          Many brass players have problems playing smooth legato lines and keeping the air flow going. This little exercise will help you overcome those issues, and it is also a comfortable mouthpiece warm up. The goal is to let the air flow freely and without interruptions when you change notes, regardless if you play glissando or legato. When playing staccato you will have to stop the airflow between notes, focusing on not building up any tensions or changing the embouchure. PLaying in pitch on mouthpiece can be hard, and doing it while playing staccato is really hard, so focus on that too. When you can play a staccato melody in perfect pitch on the mouthpiece, you probably can not play out of tune on the trombone!
          Continue reading

            Trombone Lesson: Great mouthpiece embouchure

            Buzzing for great trombone chops

            This is a simple little buzzing exercise that will help you improve airflow and get rid of bad habits related to attack or tonguing. I often use it as a warmup exercise, making it the first thing I play that day.

            The important thing here is flow. Make sure that airflow does´t stop at any time when you play the legato part of the exercise. There should be no difference in the way you blow when you go from glissando to legato. The only thing that should happen in the legato section is that the tongue make small fast movements to create a smooth attack on each note. You can check in a morris to make sure that no unwanted face or mouth movements are triggered when you go from glissando to legato.

            Play the pattern starting in a comfortable range where you have good control over sound and pitch on the mouthpiece. Try starting on a Bb or F, and gradually expand the range both up and down playing repeating the pattern. Continue reading

              Trombone lesson: Kick starting lips and air flow

              Monday morning in the practice room? This is a great little exercise to get the chops going when you first pick up your horn that day. The key to all brass playing is in the air flow, and the key to a good air flow can often be found by working on a full, overtone rich sound in the medium to medium low range.

              In this exercisee, I focus on F (below key hole-C) an augmented fourth down to B.* Many players have a hard time getting this register to sound as good as the rest of the middle range. One of the reasons is that the sound waves of the fifth in any given slide position doesn´t fit the instrument as goods as the fundamental on the same position (for example F versus Bb on 1st position). Continue reading

                Trombone lesson: Crescendo with full control

                Can you play a perfect crescendo in the middle/low range going from ppp to fff in one breath? This exercise is great to improve those skills!

                But before you start playing the exercise in the sheet music gallery, please read the following:
                The goal is not to play as strong as possible all the time! The goal is to get the feeling of opening up your throat and let the notes in ff pour out effortlessly.

                The analogy of a water pouring out of a tap is a great way to visualize the air flow. Take a look at these three pictures: Continue reading

                  Trombone lesson: Improve your playing in five minutes!

                  Doesn´t that sound nice, improving your playing in five minutes! Well, this exercise will not actually make you play trombone better, but it will help you get the most out of what you already know.

                  As I have written before, getting the airflow up and running in a relaxed manner really helps you get a good response on the horn. This small warmup and breathing exercise is all about that. Continue reading

                    Trombone lesson: My favorite warmup

                    Nothing fancy here, just a great warm up exercise that I use on a (almost) daily basis. It´s a good combination of legato and staccato and starts in a relaxed range and goes down. Deep down! Try not to give up half way in order to get the most out of it. Continue reading