Canonbury Brass – warmups – buzzy lips

Working through a warmup
Lip buzzing sets up your embouchure ready to play

Once we have done some horsey flaps we are relaxed and ready to start setting up properly to play.

We call your lips, in their playing setup, your embouchure. It's just a nice French word - bouche  just means mouth, so it's like it's your en-mouth-ment or something. Probably easier to just say embouchure than to struggle for an English equivalent! 

Please watch my Class Dojo video for Thursday 25 February where I talk through and show you some buzzing. This is the one where we really want to concentrate on making it work.

Most of us are OK doing this but if not this is your big chance to sort it out.

So let's put some warmup backing music on - you can find it in the "Warmup Navigation" menu below here or from the main menu. Like I said before, try to get a quiet moment, as far as possible, to try this on your own or at least with gentle support from whoever is nearby.

The video covers this all but here are some big things to think about:  

  • Mouth ready to talk, teeth separated a little 
  • Think about the centre of your lips - that is where we are going to focus the effort. 
  • Think about saying a "PUH" or "BUH" word, but like you really mean it, PAPA, POLYGLOTTAL, PEACH or PEAR.
  • Hold that PUH position (PUHsition??) and think about focussing some effort and tension right in the middle there. Firm everything up so that air can't easily escape.
  • Now blow gently through all that - keep the tension on but push the air gently and firmly through, so it has to escape ... and when it does, that little buzz is the start of the noise we want.       
  • Remembering to keep the tension going, take a good breath and blow a longer buzz. Can you make it last for a slow count of two? How about three, or four or more?
  •  Keep the air focussed on coming out right through the middle. A nice steady stream of air like you could blow out a candle - but very carefully! 
  • We don't want your air going off on a trip round your cheeks or anywhere else. Think about the corners of your mouth and how a bit of a feeling of a grip or a push there will keep your cheeks firmly IN where they should be.
  • We want to be inspired by Dizzy Gillespie's fantastic playing but we don't want to copy his cheeks. See my video.  
  • Remember that a mirror can help you to avoid puffing your cheeks out. 
  • Think air stream, corners, focus.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you are not sure about your buzz it is a LOT easier to sort out with a friend, family member or teacher than on your own.    
And finally don't overdo it practising this. Think about how we do it in class. About four seconds each, maybe three or four goes with a pause and a breath between? That's enough - we want a focussed, careful exercise, not the Wild Rumpus. Buzz some long notes and you are really really helping your playing.

You can go to the main Warmups page by clicking this link.
Warmup navigation: Using backing music – Horsey flaps – Buzzy lips – Mouthpiece buzz
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