Buzzing

Posted April 11th, 2006 by Christan Griego in Tips | No Comments »

One of the best ways to get in shape, stay in shape, or improve is by buzzing your mouthpiece. Arnold Jacobs was an advocate of buzzing and had specific ideas about it, stemming from his own experience in his youth. He was hospitalized at a young age for a period of time. After he began to feel better, he decided he needed to do something to alleviate the boredom of sitting in a hospital room all day. Being a cornettist, he knew that praciticing the cornet was out of the question, but he wondered about just playing the mouthpiece. So he had his mother bring it from home one day. He played anything that he could think of — melodies, bugle calls, fanfares — just to pass the time! When he got out of the hospital, he found that every aspect of his playing had improved — tone, endurance, range, sound — everything. He realized that he had made an important discovery.

Jacobs always stressed the importance of buzzing music. He would not hesitate to tell a student STOP if that student was mindlessly buzzing ditties, glisses, etc. He was always after the art form of telling a story (or as he said, Wind and Song!). His students would perform Pop Goes the Weazel, When the Saints Go Marching In, and nursery rhymes. He wanted his students to think of the product and not dwell on the process. He would then refine his comments by saying (to a trumpet player, for example): “Imagine how Bud Herseth would play that. Now buzz THAT on your mouthpiece.” Most players would not get through the entire excerpt without stopping to marvel at their own improvement.

Over the next few days, I’ll share some of my ideas about practical buzzing. I’ll also discuss why Jake said to NEVER buzz without a mouthpiece or a rim/visualizer.

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