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The buzz extension and resistance piece, better known as The Berp, helps you develop proper breath support by blowing into resistance, letting you buzz your mouthpiece while you hold your instrument in the regular playing position. The Berp also lets you press your instrument’s valves or move the slide to match the pitches you’re buzzing, so you gain ear-training benefits through reinforcing the connection between buzzing the mouthpiece and playing.
How does using the berp help me play better?
Buzzing the mouthpiece exposes what you’re doing or not doing with your air and embouchure. A good buzz on the berp translates into a great sound on the instrument. The berp makes buzzing efficient and relevant by recreating the resistance of the instrument and allowing you to finger the valves or move the slide to the pitch you’re buzzing. The berp exposes sound production problems before the sound is amplified by the mouthpiece and instrument.
Should I use it as a warm-up?
Yes, it’s a great warm-up because it gets the air going right away. It’s also valuable throughout the practice session to fix problems and get you back on track. If you practice for ten minutes without using the berp, you may not be making efficient use of your time. Try it as a quick way to focus the air before a performance, and as a way to get things back together after a hard playing session.
Can I use the berp for a quiet practice session? I can’t always play full volume and I don’t like the alternative of stuffy practice mutes and expensive electronic systems.
Great question! Practice mutes and expensive electronic devices of any kind should be avoided because of their unnatural and damaging resistance. Buzzing on the berp with the energy that you normally play forte on your instrument creates a sound that is the equivalent of a large bee flying around the room. Your embouchure is getting a normal workout with resistance similar to playing on the horn. You should alternate loud and soft berping during your normal practice routine. You can then put the mouthpiece back on the horn and play very softly (something we never do enough of), alternating that with berping. Now you have a great routine for situations in which you cannot play without a soft mute.
When I buzz on the mouthpiece alone, I get too open and stiff, and my sound suffers. How is playing on the berp different?
The berp is more beneficial for many reasons. When you buzz with the berp while holding your instrument, you are at the same angle as when you play, and you tend not to use unnecessary pressure. The resistance dial will keep you from getting too open. The new clamp-on design makes it easier to go back and forth between buzzing and playing, which is essential to keeping the sound free. You should also remember to buzz softly and loudly and to go back to playing the instrument often.
Is the berp only for more advanced players?
No! It’s for everyone at all levels. It’s the most efficient way to start beginning brass players, and to keep young players focused on what is important. Our professional performer and instructor endorsement list is so impressive because they know the berp works!
Why should I finger the valves or move the slide while buzzing on the berp?
It’s great ear training. Your brain makes the connection between hearing the pitch and matching the valve combination or slide position to it. Additionally, it is crucial in teaching the concept of what makes notes change, which is the action of the air and embouchure, not wiggling your fingers or moving the slide.
How come it’s not working a) in the high register, b) in the low register, or c) between registers?
Sorry! The berp works great in all registers, with no gaps. It’s you that’s not working great. But the good news is that you own the tool that will help you fix these problems.
Can I use the berp without clamping it on the horn? For instance, in the car on the way to a gig?
Sure, but just a few words of caution: I’ve found that when I do that, I tend to use more pressure than usual to keep in contact with the lips, which results in more wear and tear before I get to the gig. The greatest benefits of the berp are derived from putting it on the horn, but we’re all for any constructive uses. I had a friend attach a berp to the end of a seven iron for me to use on the golf course while waiting to hit my approach shot. Complaints were heard from the green about a noisy bee in the area!
I don’t feel the same when I berp as when I play on the instrument. It feels like more work on the berp. How can that be helping me?
Please consider this: Do baseball players just practice hitting home runs? Do they use weighted bats in the game? Do sprinters only run 100 meters at a time? If runners train with weights attached to their legs, does it help to take the weights off to run the race? The berp makes you work harder so that when you get on the instrument, your playing is easier, better, and more efficient.
Playing a brass instrument is a physical activity that we hope to turn into a musical experience through hard work. The more we understand, the easier it becomes to consistently recreate the physical feeling for maximum performance. The berp is an efficient and essential tool in that process.
Alto / Tenor Horn
MULTIPLE WIND and BRASS
277 Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington 6011
04 472 2668 | 021588738
Weekdays – 9am – 5pm
Saturdays – 11am – 1pm
Sundays – closed
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