Advice for a trumpet player with reduced lung capacity?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Haste2, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    I have a pectus excavatum. It's where your rib cage is rather concave, making sort of a chest cavity. Any tips? Such as specific exercises? Also, I have a bit of a problem with relaxing, too. I'm not sure if I get tense BECAUSE of my reduced air pressure or not... (because when the going gets tough, you always get more tense)

    Kinda stinks for me; in a way I wish I didn't choose the trumpet as my instrument, but I just love it too much! Yeah, I know the situation is unusual; however, about 1 in 500 have this condition, meaning there are thousands of trumpet players in the same boat as me.

    Thanks for any advice you can get, even though I'm not sure if any here are experts on this.
  2. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Hey Haste2 :welcome: to TM's Medical Services ... here's one to try, lie on your back - pour some salt into the cavity and dip your chips (fries) into it.

    RELAX - I'm just kidding ROFL.

    Very few of us know much about medical conditions except the very personal knowledge of our own disabilities - and we all have a disability of some sort. I wonder if you could somehow manage to ignore this feature of yours and do what the rest of us just try to do - simply play.

    If you have diminished lung capacity, it seems logical that you may need to take smaller beaths, more often, than most of us - you might have to review your scores and rearrange your breathing marks. With some time at the instrument, you might even find that your lung capacity increases.

    All the best of luck to you.
  3. harveyhassanator

    harveyhassanator Pianissimo User

    Sep 5, 2010
    I have one too. fortunately, it has not effected my breathing at all. it may have even helped because I can play for very long periods of time on one breath. my teacher says i have a freakishly large breath.
    i dont know whether it would help but, you can get breathing machines that are supposed to improve your lung capacity. i dont know if they work personally but, they are supposed to :)
    hope you find something that helps :)
  4. stricd

    stricd New Friend

    Oct 19, 2010
    I say don't worry about it . First of all, your air capacity and your ability to generate air pressure are two separate and unrelated issues. Trumpet, or any other wind instrument, is all about breath support. Second of all, even individuals with normal anatomy are all over the map with lung capacity, which varies according to height, build, sex, etc. So even though more capacity would be nice, I'll bet there are players out there with less than you.
  5. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    You may be better of with the trumpet than flute or saxophone. In an ycase, look at it this way: Is there any indication that it is affecting your playing? If not, then don't worry about it. If at some point it seems to have an effect, then you can work on solutions.
  6. Puckish

    Puckish Piano User

    Jan 10, 2011
    Would choice of a smaller bore instrument be beneficial at all? It seems I read often enough that when one plays a small bore trumpet you need to "back off" a bit to get the desired result - maybe diminished volume of air calls for a more compact column of same.
  7. Haste2

    Haste2 Piano User

    Jun 16, 2010
    Thanks for the tips, guys. Maybe my condition doesn't affect my trumpet playing, after all. Bleh, but still I've only known one guy better than me who had equally worse endurance/range than me....actually, I think we were about equal. Other guys I know had about the same range (high D max), but endurance and consistency is better.

    There is one exception, though: marching band. When I do that, my endurance improves a whole lot. WHY did marching band help my endurance so much? Is it the simply the fact that I was playing so many high notes that I just developed greater endurance in the high register, or do you think it was more being in shape?

    Not that I'm terribly out of shape; my weight's perfectly normal and I eat fairly health, though admittedly I don't do much of formal exercise, besides plenty of walking.
  8. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Just for clarification, by "reduced lung capacity", the OP is likely talking about a "restrictive lung disease" or a "restrictive ventilatory defect". In his/her case, the shape of his/her chest cavity restricts lung expansion and results in a decreased lung volume. The level of this deficit can be quantified by pulmonary function testing.

    Someone mentioned that there are breathing devices that can improve lung capacity. This is essentially aerobic conditioning, which can increase the efficiency of the muscles of ventilation. This increased efficiency is sometimes called an increased lung capacity, which is a bit of a misnomer. However, for the OP, aerobic conditioning may help mitigate your restrictive ventilatory defect.

    I agree with the advice given, that you shouldn't worry about it too much. Given that you're active in marching band, you likely have a good functional capacity. So most of the challenges you will face will not be related to your reduced lung capacity, but will instead be the same challenges we all face as trumpet players. So have fun, and don't worry about it.

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
  9. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    I have had major asthma problems resulting from Colbalt poisoning I got as a tool maker.

    I have about 60% of what I should have.

    Nobody can tell from my playing.
  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Following open heart surgery, my living regimen about flipped elminating many bad habits mostly over indulgence with foods.

    My Docs advised only two exercises: walking and swimming. The second is a bit of effort just to get to the pool ... 36 miles round trip thus I limit such to just once a week, driving conditions in the weather permitting. Almost daily now I walk the loop through this small down as is 2.7 miles according to my Christmas pedometer, and now I've found a way to get to and from the County Wellness Center (3.5 miles from our home) where I can use the eliptical and some other gym paraphanalia or just walk around the big assembly room (bigger than a basketball court). The consequence of such along with diet is a weight loss from 48' waist to now 42" and still losing SLOWLY. Consider, before surgery I was unable to walk the outside perimeter of our small house. Overall, I'm feeling much better.

    In high school and 2 years of college, I was active in marching band and then USAF training put me in great physical condition, as did Law Enforcement training and maintenance until my injury, but I've now no realistic projection that I'll again have a 32" waist, but 38" will suit me fine.

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