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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby happyroman » Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:15 pm

Mr. Jacobs recommended against free buzzing. He said that the lips are formed from two primary kinds of muscle groups. The main lip muscles are those of the obicularis oris, which run more or less horizontally across the opening of the mouth. These are very powerful compared to the second group, which consist of a set of very delicate muscle fibers that run perpendicular to the obicularis oris, and form a sort of basket weave pattern. These more delicate muscles are responsible for shaping the lips through retraction, protraction, elevation, and depression.

It is this shaping that allows the lips to vibrate at the different frequencies that produce different pitches. In order for these delicate muscles to function properly, Jake said that they needed to be isolated by the light pressure of the rim. If we free buzz, the larger muscles of the obicularis oris will overpower the smaller, more delicate muscles which can be detrimental for many players. Mr. Jacobs did acknowledge that some players seemed to benefit from free buzzing, including a couple of his more prominent students, Patrick Sheridan and Gail Williams. However, interviews I have seen with those two players indicate that they used free buzzing very judiciously and for only a few minutes a day. Sheridan, in particular, said he used free buzzing to work on maintaining firm corners.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby swillafew » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:18 pm

It might not be good use of a celebrity soloist's time, but a whole bunch of other people get very immediate benefits from a little mouthpiece time.

I watched a very good clinic by Vincent Cichowitz, and he was like a doctor curing illnesses on player after player. He had each and every one of them buzz the parts they struggled with, and the struggling was all but gone in moments.

A whole chapter of Kleinhammer's trombone book is about the same thing, if you need more testimony about it.

Buzzing was my audition for elementary school band, too, so I go way back with it.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:37 pm

It seems that there is considerable overlap between teachers who discourage their students from buzzing and teachers who discourage their students from posting on TubeNet.

There is quite a bit of high quality ambivalence out there about this practice, but it seems to be underrepresented on this board when this subject comes up.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby bloke » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:50 pm

I've noticed this about "buzzing" my lips:

IF I do it into a tuba, I can easily tell whether the "buzz", potentially, can make a good sound.

bloke "The same thing goes for actually mashing the buttons vs. simply moving my fingers."

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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Mark Finley » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:14 pm

Michael Bush wrote:It seems that there is considerable overlap between teachers who discourage their students from buzzing and teachers who discourage their students from posting on TubeNet.

There is quite a bit of high quality ambivalence out there about this practice, but it seems to be underrepresented on this board when this subject comes up.



I make no apologies for the amount of buzzing I do in lessons. Almost every student at every level starts with buzzing, from beginner to All stater. I listen for breathing, tone, tonguing, and everything else that I can hear in the buzz that the horn might mask. I call buzzing an X-ray into the mouth and throat.

The trick is getting the students to continue the habits we work on during a lesson during the week. An average tone on the horn is usually created by a terrible sounding buzz, but an acceptable sounding buzz will create a glorious tone on the horn

Every time
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:26 pm

58mark wrote:I make no apologies for the amount of buzzing I do in lessons. Almost every student at every level starts with buzzing, from beginner to All stater. I listen for breathing, tone, tonguing, and everything else that I can hear in the buzz that the horn might mask. I call buzzing an X-ray into the mouth and throat.

The trick is getting the students to continue the habits we work on during a lesson during the week. An average tone on the horn is usually created by a terrible sounding buzz, but an acceptable sounding buzz will create a glorious tone on the horn

Every time

I wouldn't dream of asking you to apologize or change what you do. I'm just saying some of the most highly regarded and successful teachers of our instruments either don't use it at all, or use it only for matching pitches. Reading TN, one could get the impression that everyone does this and anyone who doesn't is either incompetent or a crank, and that is far from the case.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby lowbrassmaniac » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:58 pm

If anything, buzzing (while at work, in the car, on the pot, etc..) is good just to keep some basic muscle memory to play the horn in case you go weeks in between rehearsals or more. It can't be all that bad.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:02 pm

lowbrassmaniac wrote:If anything, buzzing (while at work, in the car, on the pot, etc..) is good just to keep some basic muscle memory to play the horn in case you go weeks in between rehearsals or more. It can't be all that bad.

See, that's just begging the question. Maybe it's good and maybe it's not. That's what we're talking about. But don't worry, practically everyone here agrees with you.

I just wanted to sneak the alternative view of some very fine teachers (Winston Morris, for example) into this pro-buzzing juggernaut.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby arpthark » Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:03 am

Michael Bush wrote:I just wanted to sneak the alternative view of some very fine teachers (Winston Morris, for example) into this pro-buzzing juggernaut.


I can think of a few, too. My professor discouraged it except as a means to attune your ear at, say, the piano if you are having difficulty centering a lick. Not to be used as an extended practice tool. But, one view out of many, and there are many paths to success, as evidenced by this discussion.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby bloke » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:56 am

When I screw up a difficult passage (assuming that passage is within my own technical capabilities), over-and-over evidence demonstrates to me that it's because my mind's "ear" has one or more of the pitches misinterpreted. (More simply put: My brain is WRONG.)

Once my mind understands the task at hand (i.e. can "hear" all of the correct pitches), the connection between my mind and my lips (buzzing) is about as good as between my mind and my vocal cords (pretty good).
Sure...I can "tighten up" the pitch accuracy connection (once my mind can "sing" the passage), but I can do that more effectively with my face up against a mouthpiece-plugged-into-a-tuba (as the conditions under which I'm doing it are all those which will be the ultimate conditions) rather than with my face not up against a mouthpiece-plugged-into-a-tuba.

Again, the player's mind (90+%, I believe) is responsible for accuracy (sports/music/log-splitting/driving/whatever), as it is what sends instructions to the body. Continued repetition teaches the mind (the body? probably not as much) about more-and-more extensive and more-and-more minute corrections (towards "perfection"). Sure, "muscle strength" and "muscle subtleness" assist the mind, but (seriously) it doesn't take a whole lot of muscle strength to play the tuba, and (again) the mind is what is continuing to dial in the subtleties.

I believe I could come up with some other substitutes for "practicing the tuba" that don't involve a tuba, but none of them would be as effective as actually "practicing the tuba".
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Mark Finley » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:05 am

There is a huge percentage of students out there that can't echo a single note. You can give them the pitch, two pitches, whatever, and it's miss miss miss, and I'm not talking a half step off. It's not that they are tone deaf, it's they don't have the connection between what they are hearing and what they are producing.

I start kids with ear training and pitch matching in the very first week they are in band. These students are "raised" with good pitch matching, and as an added bonus they develop a proper air flow and relaxation through the buzz
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby bloke » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:21 pm

When I taught at bbmmblbllbmmmb University, I would challenge students to play the most elementary and familiar tunes (kids' Christmas songs, stuff like that...) in whatever key they wanted to play them in.
I'd either allow them to pick the key, or pick the first note.
This was EXTREMELY difficult for them, and the best of them could only peck out those tunes via trial-and-error.
Further, they viewed "me expecting them to (even) try to do that" as silly, because all of their concepts of "music" (as it related to "tuba") was *"notes found on a bass clef printed on a piece of paper".

Again, the mind is the control center. The embouchure muscles and the muscles which control the lungs and fingers are slaves to the mind.
_____________________________________
*...but that's still a wider view of the definition of 'music' than that of many tuba players, who view 'music' as 'a list of 40-something orchestral excerpts'.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby happyroman » Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:43 pm

Michael Bush wrote:
lowbrassmaniac wrote:If anything, buzzing (while at work, in the car, on the pot, etc..) is good just to keep some basic muscle memory to play the horn in case you go weeks in between rehearsals or more. It can't be all that bad.

See, that's just begging the question. Maybe it's good and maybe it's not. That's what we're talking about. But don't worry, practically everyone here agrees with you.

I just wanted to sneak the alternative view of some very fine teachers (Winston Morris, for example) into this pro-buzzing juggernaut.


In addition to studying with Mr. Jacobs, I also studies with Harvey Phillips when I did my Masters at IU. We never discussed buzzing the mouthpiece in my lessons. He knew I did it, and since it helped, he didn't discourage me. But others I had a few lessons with, at times when Mr. Phillips was away on tour, including Dan Perantoni, Michael Lind, and Fritz Kaenzig, all were advocates of buzzing. Those are some pretty prominent teachers, IMO. At least two of Perantoni's students were in the semis at Seattle, and one of Fritz's students plays in Philly.

My point is that there are some teachers that are not advocates, but I do think that there are a lot more teachers that are advocates.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:17 pm

happyroman wrote:My point is that there are some teachers that are not advocates, but I do think that there are a lot more teachers that are advocates.

Yes. That's what I said too. I just popped my head up on this subject as a reminder that there is not just one way of thinking about this. Some brilliant teachers don't agree this is useful. That's my only point.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby MaryAnn » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:15 pm

So I did the "See how long you can buzz a low F into the mouthpiece and then seen how long you can play a low F on the tuba." So, I interpreted "low F" as the F above my pedal Eb. I counted 14 seconds of getting a recognizable tone with the mouthpiece. Then I put it into the tuba. It sounded like someone buzzing into a mouthpiece and then sticking the mouthpiece into the tuba, as opposed to having it sound like a low F on the tuba. If I use enough air to get a nice low F on the tuba, I last about one second because that is my air supply in that range with all those valves down. I can hold a pedal Eb much longer. I'm not a fan of mouthpiece buzzing -except- for learning to buzz across breaks, where it has been very useful for me on the horn. If you can siren up and down the whole range on the mouthpiece, you are going to be able to play that same range on the tuba without breaks, with some practice.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby TubaKen » Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:48 pm

I have a few comments about some of the statements made, and some questions. This is a very interesting topic, and obviously somewhat controversial. By taking the contrarian view (i.e. mouthpiece buzzing isn't very helpful, except in some limited circumstances), I'm not just arguing for arguing's sake. I really want to understand why those of you who advocate it came to your point of view. Also, I am in no way denigrating the work of Arnold Jacobs, obviously one of the greatest brass pedagogues of all time.
Here are the quotes/comments:
As the resistance provided by the instrument is removed, it is physically more difficult to get the embouchure to vibrate. As we learn this new skill, we are in fact developing an embouchure that wants to vibrate, as opposed to one that we force to vibrate.
So, it's useful for beginners--what about intermediate/advanced players?
By buzzing on the mouthpiece, focusing on playing in tune, we learn very quickly to play on the center of the pitch. When we play on the center of the pitch, and have the tube set to the corresponding, and correct, length, the tone quality is improved.
So, it's useful for ear-training. But, unless you have perfect pitch, you would need to practice with a tuner, or at the piano, correct?
Finally, one can find anecdotal evidence to support just about any point we are trying to make. By saying that Tommy Johnson was not an advocate of mouthpiece buzzing implies that there may be an equal number of prominent teachers on both sides of the argument.
Nope, not implied, by me or that statement. Just pointing out (as others did) that there are "heavies" on both sides of the equation.
I watched a very good clinic by Vincent Cichowitz, and he was like a doctor curing illnesses on player after player. He had each and every one of them buzz the parts they struggled with, and the struggling was all but gone in moments.
This echoes Bloke's point about the whole thing being 90% mental (I think I might say 95%.) By practicing a difficult passage on the mouthpiece alone, you are removing the possibility of failure, and you can get on the right track again.
And finally:
I believe I could come up with some other substitutes for "practicing the tuba" that don't involve a tuba, but none of them would be as effective as actually "practicing the tuba".
Which pretty much sums up how I (currently) feel.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:31 pm

TubaKen wrote:
Finally, one can find anecdotal evidence to support just about any point we are trying to make. By saying that Tommy Johnson was not an advocate of mouthpiece buzzing implies that there may be an equal number of prominent teachers on both sides of the argument.
Nope, not implied, by me or that statement. Just pointing out (as others did) that there are "heavies" on both sides of the equation.

An important point. This might be one of those things that should be weighed rather than counted, or at least in addition to being counted.

Tommy Johnson, Harvey Philips, Winston Morris, Skip Grey, bloke, David Zerkel, and a few others I could guess but don't know for sure, don't outvote everyone, but they outweigh a good many.

If nothing else, weighing in addition to counting shows that there is not just one valuable approach to thinking about it.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:45 pm

TubaKen wrote:
Finally, one can find anecdotal evidence to support just about any point we are trying to make. By saying that Tommy Johnson was not an advocate of mouthpiece buzzing implies that there may be an equal number of prominent teachers on both sides of the argument.
Nope, not implied, by me or that statement. Just pointing out (as others did) that there are "heavies" on both sides of the equation.

An important point. This might be one of those things that should be weighed rather than counted, or at least in addition to being counted.

Tommy Johnson, Harvey Philips, Winston Morris, Skip Grey, bloke, David Zerkel, and a few others I could guess but don't know for sure, don't outvote everyone, but they outweigh a good many.

If nothing else, weighing in addition to counting shows that there is not just one valuable approach to thinking about it.

(Again, we all agree that buzzing rather than not-buzzing or buzzing-only-for-limited-purposes is the majority view.)
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby bloke » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:08 pm

again, I have no real credentials, other than "if you think I play OK..." I'm certainly not any of those others you mentioned ...not at all. I've coached one or two players who've done quite well for themselves, but (again) they did it themselves, and (likely) only heeded the advice of mine that made sense (surely heard from several other coaches as well) - while ignoring the nonsense.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Something somewhat related to this topic (as buzzing players, often, tend to use a buzzing routine as part of their "warm-up") is (well...) warming up.

Again, I really don't do a "warm-up". I work on stuff (right out of the starting gate), and try to ~improve~ the stuff over the last time I did it (rather than playing it in a "routine" manner).

I ~do~ work (at first, when practicing) to physically warm up the tuba, as it plays flat and out-of-tune with itself when it's below optimum operating temperature. I've done everything from using a hair dryer to (99% of the time) holding it up next to myself. In the summer, I typically leave my instruments in one of the rooms we don't bother to air-condition. That saves quite a bit of time.

The advantage to warming the tuba up by holding it up next to myself (reading, watching TV, or reading a news article on the internet) is that I can "practice" playing (again, with the goal being "improvement over last time") a selected difficult passage after (simply) sitting quietly for several minutes (much as when on stage), and not having any "practice runs" at those passages. As we all know, this is how things are when things are - well - real.

Addressing the topic of "so-and-so says, though... When something works for [you]...whomever [you] might be, surely it's OK to state, "~I~ say, ..." (as your credentials are your successes, are they not?)

yeah...I could refer back to the trombone player video demonstrating "no sound", but that would just _ _ _ _ people off all over again, and the thread would be locked. Everyone hopes that what they've chosen to do is moving them forward. Again, were I to spend time imitating playing the tuba without a tuba, I would set things up to make it as much like "actually playing a tuba" as possible.

Tomorrow morning, it's back to the Eb tuba (...the length of tuba that I can play, but can't really sight-read complex sheet music and play this length of tuba particularly well...as I really haven't super-solidly learned its note-names) and then back home to pack up a tuba for someone out west whose been much-more-than-patient.
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Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing

Postby Donn » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:28 pm

TubaKen wrote:\
By buzzing on the mouthpiece, focusing on playing in tune, we learn very quickly to play on the center of the pitch. When we play on the center of the pitch, and have the tube set to the corresponding, and correct, length, the tone quality is improved.
So, it's useful for ear-training. But, unless you have perfect pitch, you would need to practice with a tuner, or at the piano, correct?


That doesn't follow. It's almost like saying you may as well not practice singing, unless you have perfect pitch. Practice improves your ability to hit a pitch. If you don't have a good ear, you're not going to play well, but you don't want to compound the problem with chops that don't go to the pitch you want. I'm not prescribing any particular practice regimen here myself, for goodness sakes, just commenting on the logic as I see it.
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