There is always controversy about the benefits of buzzing. During my studies I have been told to: free-buzz, use the visualizer, buzz on the mouthpiece, buzz on the mouthpiece while cupping my hands around the shank, buzz with a finger blocking part of the shank, only buzz exercises, and to only buzz songs. Needless to say it was a confusing time. I eventually discovered that it is not WHAT you are buzzing, but HOW you are buzzing. Here’s what I’ve found that works well.
For me, the concept of buzzing is to work on the air column and how it changes to help produce different pitches. I would like to very briefly talk about two different components of the air column: the speed and size. The speed of the air creates the pitch. The size (width) of the air determines the volume. I highly recommend using a piano to help guide the pitch placement during these exercises.
This is a modified version of the James Stamp buzzing routine. The original Stamp pattern ascends and returns back down. My version of this exercise starts in the middle register and slowly moves down into the lower register, then transitions back up to the starting pitch. Below is a quick explanation of what you will hear on the buzzing MP3 below.
Here is the exercise in C Major.
Once you become comfortable with this key, gradually transpose the exercise down by half-step to help develop a smooth transition into the lower register.
You can also take this slow enough, by using a piano, to add a very quick gliss during the last 16th note of each pitch. This gliss will prevent you from muscling each note into place. Initially, it will be very beneficial to tongue all the 16th notes to find the exact placement of the gliss.
This a simple descending scale. The intent of this exercise is to gradually extend the middle register setting into the lower register. By adding one note at a time, we can eliminate any breaks in the buzz or air column. The lips should smoothly transition from one note to the next, still utilizing the glass from the previous exercise. I treat every fermata as 8 counts long and the breath is two counts. You receive the same count off as the previous exercise.
I would gradually try to increase the tempo as the exercise progress, this way you will have enough air for the lower register. I recommend to transpose this down by half-steps to fully develop a smooth transition into the lower register.
Slightly More Advanced Versions
The next two buzzing exercises are just variations of the above exercises, with one exception. Your buzz and the piano are offset by an 8th note. This is a great way to check your opinion of where the new note should be placed. I have chosen to not include the full exercise, just the first line of each.