Do you want to be the next Louis Armstrong?
If so, you’ll have to learn some special techniques, like buzzing your lips.
Why You Need to Buzz Your Lips to Play Trumpet:
You need to know how to buzz your lips when playing the trumpet. The buzzing allows for the trumpet to make any noise at all. Luckily, you can practice buzzing with or without the instrument, and you can learn the skill in the way that works for you.
How Important Is Buzzing for Learning the Trumpet?
Learning how to buzz your lips is essential for playing the trumpet.
You can technically play the trumpet in other ways, such as using it as a percussion instrument and banging it.
Or you could sing into the trumpet or press the valves to make a quieter sound, but you need to buzz to play most trumpet parts.
As a beginner, learning how to buzz your lips can be frustrating. It’s not a very natural way to use your lips, but you won’t be able to make progress without mastering that skill.
My Lips Cannot Make That Buzzing Sound. What Do I D0?
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on your dreams of playing the trumpet if you can’t buzz your lips.
You can do a few exercises to help prepare your lips and practice buzzing.
Here are a few things to try if you’re struggling to make a sound on your trumpet.
Relax the Lips
First, try a few exercises to help relax your lips.
A good one to do is to try and make the stereotypical neigh sound that a horse makes. Put your lip close to each other, and let the air you blow make the lips move back and forth against each other.
You can also stretch your lips by opening your mouth wide or making a kissing face. If your lips are too tense, it can be hard to get a consistent buzzing sound, even if you’ve done it before.
Whenever you feel your lips are tight, do some small exercises to loosen them, and try to play your trumpet again.
Work on Breath Control
Another thing that can make buzzing is if you aren’t using enough air or air pressure.
In that case, you’ll need to work on your breath control with and without buzzing.
Start by taking a deep breath and expanding your torso to fill your lungs with air. Then, let the air out slowly to see how long you can go with one breath.
You can make the exercise more difficult by forming a trumpet embouchure. Try the exercise without buzzing first, then do it again while attempting to buzz.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
If you want to practice buzzing specifically, try to get the buzz to happen, even for a short moment.
You can do this a few times to know how to form your lips and use your air.
After you know how to get the buzz going, you can slowly work on making it last longer. Be sure to listen to your lips and the rest of your body to know when to take a break.
What Are Other Exercises Helpful for Learning Trumpet?
Knowing how to buzz your lips is great, but it’s only a part of playing the trumpet.
Whether or not you’ve figured out how to buzz your lips, you should know about other exercises.
That way, you can start incorporating these things into your practice routine to help improve your playing.
One of the best exercises you can do is lip slurs, where you play notes in octaves using just your lips. For example, you might start by playing a written middle C.
Use your air and lips to adjust the pitch to play the C above that. This requires you to know how to buzz well.
You have to know if and how you need to change your embouchure to make the change.
Practice your scales if you want to work more on your finger technique.
Of course, you can practice a basic C major scale and play the entire thing in one or two octaves.
However, you can switch things up and play other scale patterns, such as scales in thirds. Or you might choose to play the first five notes on a scale up and down.
When playing scale patterns, be sure to cover major and minor scales. You can also practice whole tone, chromatic, and pentatonic scales.
Even if you’re comfortable buzzing your lips, the trumpet can feel heavy after a while.
To keep that from happening, make time for arm exercises.
You can practice holding the trumpet without playing it. Or you can do more physical exercises, such as pushups, to help build your arm strength.
What Are the Easiest Ways to Learn How to Buzz?
The easiest way to learn how to buzz can depend on the player.
Some new trumpeters need to work with a private teacher who can show them the right techniques and help the player form their mouths properly.
Others may need to consult some tutorials online. A third group may need to learn the basics and spend more time practicing buzzing.
Think about how you learn best to decide which method may work for you.
Then, you can start to learn how you can buzz your lips to play the trumpet:
Should You Practice Buzzing Without the Trumpet?
You might not always have your trumpet at the ready when you want to practice buzzing.
Especially as a beginner, it can make more sense to practice buzzing in short bursts throughout the day.
If you don’t want to get your trumpet out each time, you should practice buzzing without the instrument. Here are a few other specific reasons why this can help you.
Improve Your Embouchure
Practicing buzzing without your trumpet can help you work on your embouchure without worrying about your fingers.
Many trumpet music involves moving notes, so it can be easy to focus on that.
Taking the trumpet away forces you to spend more time analyzing your lips and airstream. You can practice with the mouthpiece to get a feel for how your embouchure should be when you add the trumpet back.
Use this time to also focus on your breathing.
Make sure you get a full breath before you start to blow and buzz your lips so that you can play as long of a phrase as possible.
Take another deep, slow breath to refill your lungs when you run out of air. Repeat this process as you work on your buzzing and embouchure.
Avoid breathing with just your upper chest throughout your practice since that can keep you from getting enough air. Next time you add the trumpet into your practice, breathing should naturally come to you.
Relax Your Arms
Another benefit of practicing buzzing without the trumpet is relaxing your arms.
Even though the trumpet is the smallest brass instrument, it can weigh you down as you play.
If your arms start to feel tired, use that as an excuse to focus on buzzing for a bit. You can buzz without the trumpet, so you need to hold the mouthpiece, which is easier.
And if that’s not comfortable, you can buzz without holding anything. However, holding the mouthpiece can help you ensure you’re buzzing the way you need to for your gear.
Should You Practice Buzzing Without the Mouthpiece?
Practicing buzzing without the mouthpiece can be an excellent option for beginners and experienced trumpeters.
Maybe you need to clean your mouthpiece or have some free time to practice.
Whatever it is, there are a few things benefits of buzzing without your trumpet or mouthpiece. Consider why it’s worth spending some time practicing this way.
No Equipment Needed
The most obvious advantage is that you don’t need to have your trumpet or mouthpiece.
This makes it easy for potential trumpet players to start learning the basics since you don’t have to own a trumpet.
If you already play the trumpet, you can work on buzzing almost anywhere. Maybe you have a long commute to work or a private trumpet lesson, and you want to use that time wisely to practice buzzing.
You can also practice buzzing while you take a walk or do anything else in your day. Then, when you have time to play the trumpet, you can focus on other aspects of your playing.
Incorporate Tonguing Patterns
Once you master the basics of buzzing, start adding your tongue into the mix.
Many trumpet music requires you to do more than slur all the notes together.
If you practice using your tongue without the trumpet, you can figure out where you need to place it. Start by tonguing quarter notes at a slow tempo and slowly increasing the speed.
By the time you add your trumpet, you may find tonguing easier. Then, you won’t have to determine how to use your tongue effectively.
Avoid Disturbing Others
Whether you have roommates or a family, you might not be able to practice at your ideal time.
Maybe you have a late day at work, so you have to practice after everyone goes to bed.
To keep from disturbing people, you can practice buzzing without your mouthpiece. You’ll be much quieter, so you can still work on music without waking anyone.
You can practice the breathing and tonguing patterns in the music you’re working on. Then, when you can play the trumpet, you’ll be more prepared.