The challenge of adding resistance to the mouthpiece buzz is one that a number of people have tackled, but always with big compromises to be made. German trumpet player, educator and designer, Markus Arnold talks to me here about his journey in designing the acclaimed ‘Buzz-R’.
Can you give us a little background to starting this design process?
My father taught me how to play trumpet at an early age. Since then I’m playing professionally in very different styles of music (classical music, bigband/jazz, german/austrian folk music, etc.).I also do workshops, band/orchestra coaching, clinics and private teaching.
The Buzz-R is handmade out of high quality wood and was developed in cooperation with a woodwind instrument manufacturer. We tested quite a few different sorts of wood and after a while we found the perfect one in terms of vibrance, resistance and longevity. The form of the product is designed ergonomically so the Buzz-R is easy and comfortable to hold.
What are the primary purposes of the Buzz-R?
First of all, the main concept of this training device is added resistance. The mouthpiece alone makes it quite hard to produce a relaxed buzz. There’s much more embouchure and lip tension needed than if you would play your actual instrument. Especially Kids and Beginners are having a hard time with this lack of resistance. I think that buzzing the mouthpiece should feel like playing the instrument. And that’s why the Buzz-R works so well. You can adjust the degree of resistance, depending on your individual taste, with closing one hole or one-and-a-half or letting both holes open for a freer feel of blow.
One other great feature is that you can practice almost everywhere. Because of its quiet sound and small size you can use it in the car, on a trip, on holidays and at home. Especially whenever it is unable for you to bring your instrument with you. The Buzz-R is also excellent for warming up.
What challenges did you face along the way with this design process?
Of course it can be very difficult for a family company to grow and compete with the big brands. But our strong spirit and love of detail helped us to make brass players from over the world become better players. We’re receiving messages everyday from happy customers, telling us about their progress. That’s a very satisfying feeling!
How long was the process from initial conception to the product reaching the market?
The process was quite long. I thought about the idea for over 20 years. And this idea wasn’t commercial at all in the beginning. I built the first example for myself after experiencing positive effects from buzzing the mouthpiece with added resistance, especially with wood. And so the “Buzz-R” was born. More and more colleagues got interested in the concept so I decided to produce more.
What were your main ways of launching and marketing the Buzz-R?
In the beginning I was mainly advertising my products through social media like facebook and instagram. It took not very long and big shops like Thomann and Amazon got interested. Meanwhile there are dealers all over the world who are selling my products. And even famous players like Wayne Bergeron or Eric Miyashiro are talking about using the Buzz-R in their workshops and clinics. This is also not too bad 😉
Is there anything that you would differently?
What new developments are you currently working on?
We have a new product available in our online shop, called the “Lipmaster”. It’s a unique training device, which is also handmade out of high quality wood. With the Lipmaster you can train your embouchure and lip muscles easily and isolated, away from your instrument. You can find it on our website www.buzz-r.de.
We’ve also planned to publish a new brass method book in the near future where the concept of the Buzz-R is explained in detail. It will be an innovative compilation of common topics like embouchure, breathing, efficient practice, etc. This book also includes some instructional videos, exercises with funky play-alongs and practice routines.
So stay tuned!
For further information, please visit www.buzz-r.de