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Thread: Help with Tuba embouchure

  1. The double buzz for me always came at a point where the lip muscles were exhausted. When you stop to think about it that may not take all that much. Those muscles are not huge like leg muscles and in some cases they are asked to do quite a bit of strenuous work.
    The doublebuzz also seemed to come around Bb on the 1st line of the bass clef )for BBb tuba) and the notes below on that harmonic series.
    That harmonic seems to be the area of least resistance on the horn and so the lips have the least about of slotting to keep the note in focus. The problem here is that the player should be focusing his/her chops rather than letting the horn define things.

    Several things to consider:
    1. Pressure cuts off blood circulation.

    2. Playing beyond "momentary muscle failure" abuses the tissues. The chops are like "sheets flapping in the breeze."
    When we reach that stage we often think we are warmed up because the low register seems to respond well from those "flabby" almost lifeless muscles.
    In reality we are "worn out" You might even say; The chops are injured. Bruised, exhausted, strained, a loss of cell tissue due to cut off circulation.

    3. It is important to take frequent breaks when practicing and for that matter in band rehearsals and performances as well.
    Play smart: Trade strains in a march. Lay out for a while when there is excessive doubling. Get blood circulation back into your chops and give the muscles a moment to recover.

    4. Nutrition is an important factor in developing muscle strength. Protein. Sugars give a burst of temporary energy but do little to help tissue growth.

    5. Alcohol is definitely a problem as nothing responds as well as it should and we wind up forcing things. It can take over a day for the chops to recover from heavy use of alcohol.
    Neuro or synaptic connections are lost and so often times a player will force the issue to get the notes to come out since fine muscle control has been minimized. It can even take weeks to rebuild those synaptic connections that facilitate brilliant playing.

    There is so much to consider neurologically speaking. Different nerve groups conduct different business. Motor skills for instance come from a different set of nerves that musical ideas and expression. A good intelligent warm up will take into account getting all of these elements to coordinate. When these nerve communications are all out of sync, we really do not play smoothly.

    6. The embouchure may not be functioning in a healthy manner.
    Firm corners
    A good anchor all the way around the rim
    Sufficient wind support to actually support the buzz and the muscular focus.
    A good honest buzz,

    7. Mouthpiece solfege: Producing accurate pitches and musical ideas on just the mouthpiece. Ask yourself if you are able to hold those pitches without getting the doublebuzz when just on the mouthpiece.

    8. The double buzz occurs when there is little or no control of the tissues in the embouchure and when the air stream is too casual to support a "steady" and controlled buzz.

    9. Oh yes!!! Long tones. (even, focused, and in tune, with a clear attack and a nice back end - or closure to the note,)

    Hope this helps.




    I've taught college/university for over 35 years. Most of these problems occur when the band is in "high gear" with marching practice or heavy duty concert band rehearsals. They never seem to take enough recovery time.

    We expect modern brass players to have this incredibly huge sound. Big bore horns, open throat mouthpieces with deep cups are the equipment of choice and then they play loud so much of the time. Is it any wonder? From my experience is listening to less mature players, I notice they tend to overblow and "pound" things. A more moderate approach to the bulk of rehearsal time would be more constructive physiologically and more of a pitch conscious singing approach to centering pitches would help in avoid tissue abuse.


    Who among us practices routines such as the Claude Gordon "A Systematic Approach to Daily Practicing" where we actually build extremely strong chops.
    It is hard to build up chops without focused and purposeful exercises.

    Hope this helps. There is no pill for this. Recovery and smart playing.

    Put the emphasis on "recovery."
    Last edited by paulmaybery; 10-20-2014 at 02:39 PM.

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