Arban Method Breathing problem

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by iris186, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I am not too sure of this. When I listen to really old recordings, I discover that we have not learned much at all. We may be able to play louder (up to volumes that nobody needs), but that is about the only serious difference coming out of the bell that I can determine. A Strauss symphony, Wagner opera or hour of Clarke etudes still takes a real toll on our "physical" approach. If we were really better, we would have more reserves. We get a good indication of what was possible back then by looking at what the repertory looked like. In France, Arbans students played Ravel, Debussy, Berlioz, Bizet and many others - definitely not music for wimps.
    ( more on this era here: List of Romantic-era composers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

    One thing is for sure, the Arban book, like most "conservatory" methods is designed for lessons with a professor - not for DIY study. Written text, translated into another language by somebody that did not study with the master has a big chance of losing clarity.

    What has gotten better is the manufacturing quality of the instruments. The Arbans book still has a great deal on the upper end of what is musically sensible and playable.
  2. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Don't get me wrong I swear by the Arban book I use it with all my students and myself , a long with other books, it's just that with the popularity of jazz and big bands starting in the '20s to the present, trumpet playing became more physically demanding, needing more range , volume and endurance , because of these demands we now have methods on breathing, tongue placement etc. such as Claude Gordon, Maggio, Stevens, Reinhardt, Callet,and the list goes on,who talk about physical aspects of playing that Arban never really touched on because they didn't exist in his day.
  3. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Breath the way that is most comfortable for yourself. I though I had this problem so I went to a concert, I believe this one had Ray Vasquez and some other people, and noticed a variety of different breathing styles. Most people will believe that their methods are the best. I've had instructors that forced me to breath their way, and then I had to learn a new method with another.
    For me all the methods boil down to one thing. DO NOT STRAIN, when you're out of breath, you're simply out of breath. Even when you feel like there is no more air in your lungs, there actually is. But, it's pointless to strain to push it out, it will sound and look horrible.
    This goes for playing at loud dynamics. Do not strain to push out louder dynamics. Dynamic playing should be relaxed and controlled. You should never play to loud (unless requested to do so by the director) , but when you have to be comfortable.
    Watch Phantom Regiment in the lot on you tube. Watch how you never can tell a difference in the body of when they play soft and loud. They use the method I'm using right now. When you inhale let the air raise your shoulders then your chest then your diaphram. And when you exhale do it in reverse order.

    Hope this helps
  4. iris186

    iris186 New Friend

    Apr 29, 2009
    Wow, thanks everyboady for helping out. The youtube vid was actually pretty good, and went a long way to dispel the notion of how much air you are actually using to play.

    Just didnt want to do anything that affected my breathing for singing (Im trying my best to be a good student! ha), and for the amount of times Ive heard "diaphragm only", was just concerned that with a method book as revered as the Arban method, that playing trumpet would come in direct conflict with singing. But Im glad that seems not to be the case. Using the diaphragm for singing is pretty essential for volume and tone.

    So, just to some up, would most trumpet teachers here agree that that piece of the Arban method is a little archaic?

    This was my 1st thread in this forum, and Im delighted with the response I got. Thanks for all your help.
  5. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Get used to it lol ;)
    people here like to talk trumpet
  6. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    I wouldn't necessarily say that, if you have a recent copy, I was probably Annotated by Claude Gordon. Be sure to read all of it including footnotes. This will give you something of a view of both sides of this argument. You might also take a look at "Brass Playing is No Harder Than Deep Breathing" by Claude Gordon.

    Finally, do a search for "Circle of Breath" on these forums. Rowuk has gone in depth about that as well. It's not in direct response to your query about diaphragmatic breathing, but it will round the subject out nicely.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    There is nothing archaic about anything Arban. It has withstood the test of time. Even his advice on breathing, if applied as intended WITH CONSERVATORY PROFESSOR GUIDANCE will provide the desired results. Just because players trying to figure this out without help don't get it, does not change the truth. This method works, as do certain other methods. To figure out what is best for a particular individual, one needs to have experience with several methods. To question the validity after only a couple months of singing lessons is pretty bold.

    This actually would have been worth a flame. I started to, but erased it.

    If we REALLY take a look at breathing we discover many things that show how little many teachers really know about breathing. I would challenge anybody to show me breathing that is NOT diaphragmic (the only exceptions that I know of are reanimation or an iron lung)! We have no other muscles that can lower the pressure of our lungs causing air to flow in. When we really fill up, the chest will swell - unless we stop early! As far as the stomach moving, there is definitely no need for the stomach to expand when taking a big relaxed breath..

    This is where lack of experience causes a BIG misunderstanding. We get fed a visualisation of the right way being filling up the lungs from the bottom up. The diaphragm is only at the bottom of the lungs and cannot depressurize any particular section individually. BAD posture only means that we fill up with less air because we compress the area that the lungs can freely expand in.

    So my take is called the circle of breath and holds true for most types of playing (and singing, by the way). Certain trumpet players prefer to additionally pressurize the exhale cycle by adding tension to the abdomen (the wedge).

    I make no effort to visualize something that can work naturally with good posture and a big relaxed breath. Many teachers make a living by propagating myths. If a student gets better by believing the myth, no harm is done until they offer their version of the myth to the next generation of students. That is where this diaphragmic breathing stuff came from - something easy turned complicated to make the teacher sound like they know what they are talking about.

    The key to success is suitable posture, low tension and a big, relaxed breath. The human body will take care of the rest if we let it. This is done by subtraction of tension, not addition of myths. I wouldn't worry about how somebody translated from the original french. I would spend more time on Arbans real message, not the semantics.
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    I can't agree with the idea that the section in Arban's on breathing is archaic.
    But, I'm always game to ask a question to increase learning.
    Suggesting the methodology is archaic, suggests at one time it was an accepted method, right? My question is:
    What significant factors would you add/remove from Arban's statement(page 8) on breathing to make the topic more up to date?
  9. amanitas

    amanitas New Friend

    Apr 5, 2009
    Culver City
    Personally I think Arban has it wrong there. Your diaphragm should fill with air first, then your lungs, then your shoulders/upper back. That way you are maximizing your breath potential. Otherwise, you are merely giving yourself the illusion that you've got a full breath, when in fact you've only got a fraction of the air you could have.

    Just my .02
  10. Bachstul

    Bachstul Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 25, 2009
    You don't always want a full breath, just enough to carry the phrase. What's needed is to learn how to breathe, so we can deliver, without losing our breath, or hyperventilating, or passing out.

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