I don´t agree with Christian Lindberg on this one

A modest reply to Christian Lindberg´s statement about why not to buzz.

I stumbled over this short video with Christian Lindberg talking about why you should not buzz. Christian, I truly respect you as one of the worlds very finest trombone players ever, but I have to disagree with you on this one.


I would argue that what you in your video call your best effort on a beautiful sound on the mouthpiece, is mainly getting as much sound pressure out of it as possible. That is the equivalent to forcing more air through the trombone, than the embouchure for the given note you play allows. That too, will result in a squeezed sound with few overtones.

Rather opposite, a soft, airy mouthpiece sound is what will trigger a full sound on the trombone. Getting a good sound on the trombone (or any brass instrument), is about finding the easiest way to get the air out of your body and through the instrument, starting at your toes and following it through the bell of your horn. In the video below that I made on the subject, I have made an attempt to showcase that. (Since I am not particularly happy to hear my own voice recorded, I have chosen to hide behind written words and practical examples instead.)

Buzz and become a better musician

Besides building up embouchure, buzzing is a great tool for brass players to become a better musician. In the end of the video, I play a blues solo on the mouthpiece while moving the slide accordingly (admitted, the pitch is not perfect all the way, but I still find this useful as long as I at least can hear what note I intended to play). For me as a jazz player, this is a great way to connect what you actually hear and can relate to while playing. Regardless if you play improvised jazz, or classical etudes, you have to be able to hear the next note before you play it in order to make music out of it. Once you play it, it is too late to start thinking of how to phrase or pitch it. That should take place in your head in advance.

So dear Christian, while I am in absolutely no position to help you improve your trombone playing, I would love to take on the challenge of giving you some ways to use buzzing to improve your overall musicianship. Let me know if your are up for a challenge!

Best regards,
Anders Larson
Jazz trombone player and slightly hubris plagued buzzer

    10 thoughts on “I don´t agree with Christian Lindberg on this one

    1. Hej Anders – Selvfølgelig skal man buzze. Både med og uden mundstykke. Og jeg synes slet ikke, at Lindberg video er overbevisende på nogen måde. En detalje: at presse, trykke eller klemme på engelsk staves, – squeeze –
      Cheers
      Keld

    2. Indiana trumpet teacher Bill Adam has plenty to say about this and it is supported in the journal Scientific American. Lindberg is essentially on the right track and you seem to be supporting his contention.

    3. Sorry (ta’r den lige på engelsk) But I agree with Christian on this one. Well, yes tou improve some muscles in the lips by buzzing but if you want to impove your sound (and that’s what he’s talking about) you should practice on the horn. Playing with no tongue but air attack on every note. Not slured but small holes between every note, forcing you to focus on the excact amount of air used to produce the single note. Now that works… 😉

    4. Bet that works great (too), Steen. Will try that. Anything trick makes the trombone sound like an actual musical instruments is allowed!

    5. I also agree with Christian Lindberg. I think that buzzing all the time, makes you sound tight. You should create your sound through air speed rather than face muscle. If you do teach the buzz on trombone, it should be done with the wet part of the lip or the inner part of your lip. Bart VanLier has a great book on explaining this type of buzzing. Trumpet and horn players should buzz with dry part of the lip, not low brass players. I’ve taught beginning band and have produced great trombone players without focusing on the buzz. If you have your students do “breath attacks” you are creating the sound through air speed, and I believe is the correct way to buzz.

    6. I agree with Anders, soft buzzing is a great way to enable lips to produce good sound without efforts beside a good air support.

    7. Just a comment/guess from a simple trombone owner:
      I guess neither You or Christian have any real difficulties to hit the correct pitch but if that is one of Your shortcomings I guess buzzing will reveal any out of tune tones more than if You have the horn helping You with the intonation
      I have not done much buzzing but when I do it has been to improve my not to good intonation, not primarily the tone quality.
      But if so, buzzing may actually improve tone quality by training You to playing more spot on tones.
      Yet another comment is that You will become better at what You practice so with limited time for practice maybe You should not spend it on buzzing?

    8. When I threw shot and discus in high school I also lifted weights. Lifting weights didn’t use the muscles exactly the same way as my event but it helped build up strength that I needed to throw farther. I see buzzing much the same way. It requires more strength to buzz than to play your horn. When I taught trombone a lot of my students had marginal embouchure strength and used a lot of pressure to squeeze their lips to hit high notes. 15 minutes of buzzing every day and they had rock hard corners and a lot more endurance because they didn’t have to mash their lips to hit notes.

    9. I think wherher or not you buzz regularly, the genesis of nice resounding tone quality on any wind instrument is the air. Before I really started getting the hang of filling the hang of filling the diapharaghm with which is little over a month now, I found buzzing useless as it had me tense all the time and resulted in me regularly laying with my chest lungs. I’m still getting used to controlling the flow of air and my sound is amazing. I think it all comes down to what works best for you.

    Comments are closed.