The “Buzzy Buzz”

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A comment on the previous post reminded me an article that used to be in my Horn Articles Online site. Titled “Buzzing on the Mouthpiece,” a version of this article was published in Bandmasters Review 6, issue 2 (December, 2004), 19-20, and it was for some years in my main Horn Articles Online site. That article has been incorporated into the draft of a book project but the article opened as follows.

While I know that I certainly did a lot of things right in my studies, there are three major things that I wish I had done, in retrospect, sooner; get a new horn, sit with better posture, and buzz more on the mouthpiece. In fact, although I knew during my studies that some players and teachers were strong advocates of buzzing, I really only personally got into it after the need frequently arose to warm-up a bit in route to playing jobs during my time in the Nashville Symphony–driving in the car! The longer I teach, the more benefits I see from buzzing on the mouthpiece.

As a first note, when buzzing on the mouthpiece you want to produce a “buzzy” buzz. I first heard this term used by hornist Gail Williams in a master class setting some years back to describe the tone you want to get on a mouthpiece. Buzzing needs to be somewhat loud and very focused, especially in terms of pitch. It may help to hold the mouthpiece as you buzz not at the tip but more in the body of the mouthpiece to get the right kind of tone and feel.

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The rest of the article focused on how buzzing was useful not only as tool for a short warm-up but also to develop accuracy, tone, and the high range. I touch on the high range aspect further in my publication Playing High Horn, but again I will have more on the topic incorporated into my upcoming book.

Finally, I should note that more from a Gail Williams master class on the topic of free buzzing may be found here.