Buzzing on your brass mouthpiece is an essential part of improving as a musician leading to stronger, clearer tone quality and better intonation. Yet buzzing on a mouthpiece alone is at best only a fair representation of how it feels to actually play on the instrument. Without the instrument there is no real air resistance. For experienced players this isn’t a big issue but for beginners trying to learn to buzz properly that little bit of resistance helps immensely in letting them get the buzz going and focused. Enter the Buzzard, a simple yet incredibly useful little device that can help you get your students buzzing and sounding better and with less frustration.
The Buzzard from Warburton USA is a simple molded piece of black plastic that at first glance reminds a person of a duck call or the bishop from a chess set. The bore of the tube of the Buzzard is shaped and tapered in such a way that it creates just enough resistance to feel normal while still blowing freely. It even has a slightly flared “bell” section on the end. The manufacturer claims that it helps to shape the sound to provide a more focused and clear tone.
I took this claim to task, making an audio recording of me buzzing first on a bare trumpet mouthpiece, then on a BERP, and finally on the Buzzard. The recording is included below if you want an auditory comparison of the sound from all three. In my opinion the Buzzard significantly changes the sound of the buzz. While the bare mouthpiece and the BERP sound fairly similar the sound is quite a bit different on the Buzzard. This isn’t a bad thing, and it actually “feels” a little different too when playing. When you listen to the recording you can definitely tell how the bore and flared mini-bell on the Buzzard are shaping the tone.
In terms of comfort and utility the Buzzard is more than adequate for most brass musicians. The outside is also contoured to fit in your hand nicely and the extension has the added benefit of helping keep your fingers clean when the occasional bead of water drops out of the end. In terms of convenience the Buzzard is incredibly easy to use and fits almost anywhere you may need to carry it. The Buzzard is available to fit trumpets, tubas, and trombones with both large and small bore versions as well. The Buzzard is available through the Warburton USA website for $24.95.