It is always intriguing to receive new trumpet gadgets through to try out and review. I have always used mouthpiece buzzing as an important part of my practice as well as my teaching, so the Buzz-R looks like an interesting prospect. Finding an effective embouchure calisthenic aid that can realistically be incorporated into a practice regime is also difficult – could the Lipmaster be the answer?
Both of these products are designed and made in Germany by Markus Arnold and have received great reviews already. You can read the interview that I did with Markus earlier this year here, and also visit his website.
There are lots of buzzing aids on the market. Their general purpose is to try to add a little more resistance and resonance to the mouthpiece so that it gives more like the sensation of playing the trumpet.
The Buzz-R actually has 2 playing settings: The first is with both of the side holes open giving a full sound. The second is with a finger covering one of the holes for a more muted sound.
The first setting is where the real benefits are – the buzzing sensation really is similar to playing the trumpet. There is enough resistance to be able to articulate clearly – I generally discourage students from doing anything other than long notes and slurs on the mouthpiece, but with the Buzz-R you can add in articulation without the tongue moving too far forward in the mouth.
I have tried a couple of prominent brands and found them really useful up to a point. And that point is generally top-of-the-staff G! It becomes so resistant that the sound cuts out with all lip vibration stifled. So an important question that I wanted to ask of the Buzz-R was whether I could play freely across the range – YES!
The second setting with one hole closed is also really useful. It mutes the sound for when your buzzing is going to annoy your locked-down family members!
The Lipmaster is a calisthenic device for strengthening the embouchure while away from the trumpet. I have tried various techniques with students for focusing the embouchure, and my concern with all of these (my favoured one is just to grip a pencil between the lips) is that playing a musical instrument is never as simple as just focusing on just one thing. Whilst said device is between your lips, you can no longer breathe in or out through your mouth. As we all know, this is THE fundamental necessity and I believe that whatever technical aspects you are working on, the flow of air needs to be an important part of the procedure.
So here is the thing… With the Lipmaster, you can! The gaps in the wood allow you to focus on breathing at the same time as gripping with your embouchure. Suddenly these exercises are transformed from stand-alone muscle building, into a more all-round and worthwhile task.
The other big benefit of the flexibility of the wooden strips is that the embouchure aperture remains flexible, as of course it needs to be when we are playing.
Both of these products are really welcome additions to the practice aid market and I am really glad to have had the opportunity to try them.
The Buzz-R is available to purchase here
The Lipmaster is available to purchase here
You can visit the Buzz-R website for more information on these and the other Buzz-R products.