"Are you supporting your air"? - I don't get it

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Kantza, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Kantza

    Kantza Pianissimo User

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    Sometimes my teacher says that I'm not supporting my air (enough), and as a "proof" he pushes on my belly and pushes me out of balance.
    I don't see what this has anything to do with air support, even when you'ld be as "stiff" as a stick someone can push you out of balance.
    The only way to keep your balance (to my understanding) would be to lean forward.

    Then, when I say that I don't get what that has to do with air support he proves his statment by letting me push on his belly and yes, he stays in balance but it's very clear that he's just leaning forward.

    I do believe my teacher when he's saying that I wasn't supporting my air enough, but I don't get this "proof".
    Justing getting annoyed by this "air support check"...

    Please give me some opinions on this :cool:
     
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Try using the Vulgano RAY OF POWER:

    There are lots of misconceptions about the use of air. The finicky thing about air is that, yeah, we must learn the mechanics but then forget about them, because under the stress of performance, as tension sets in, our bodies will lie to us, and it will feel like we're moving huge amounts of air, breathing deeply and supporting when in fact, we are not!

    For this reason, I rely on some Vulgano Voodoo and the RAY OF POWER. It involves the Root Chakra, which is located directly at the base of the spine, also known as the coccyx. The chakras have their own mystic qualities, I guess. I don't know for sure, but they do seem to be located in parts of the body where bunches of nerves meet. (The Vulgano version is situated half way between the places we do our number one and number two in the restroom.)

    In practice and in theory, imagine (and feel) a ray of some sort (red is the most common mystic color associated with the root chakra) shooting down into the ground while playing. For high notes, imagine (and feel) a more intense ray. If we practice this sitting in a chair, we can notice all kinds of muscles come into play, which happen to be the same muscles used to "support" the air stream. By taking attention off of the mechanics and experiencing the mysterious, magical and not yet patented RAY OF POWER we can avoid some of the tension involved in "trying hard."

    Nothing mysterious and magical here really, but the RAY OF POWER does permit me and others to play with a relaxed but working body.

    A very important component is our breathing. Google "Circle of Breath Rowuk Trumpetmaster.com" for some great information.
     
  3. Kantza

    Kantza Pianissimo User

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    @Vulgano
    I'm aware of the huge amount of misconceptions, I've already done lots of research on this topic.
    I've ready the book of Claude Gordon about air support, also checked Rowuk's article.

    Also, I have an idea of what air support is, I know when I'm supporting my air when I'm playing, comfortably, at home.
    Indeed, when having to perform (or just play for my teacher or whatever), I have less body awareness, which makes it harder to play comfortably thourgh my range.
     
  4. therealnod

    therealnod Pianissimo User

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    Diaphragm. Think of filling your entire body with air, or at least the parts that can be filled with air.
     
  5. therealnod

    therealnod Pianissimo User

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    Here is the wiki on the anatomical structure:
    Thoracic diaphragm
    I don't understand why an instructor wouldn't simply explain the physics of it to a student.
    I would think of it as filling your belly with air and using your stomach muscles to push and control the air, though that may be seen as poor instruction...I don't know.
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    There are many conflicting views on breathing and breath support. SOME of those views are justified (low air pressure/high air pressure for instance), most are just copy paste with no real knowledge behind it.

    Except for when I play lead, I am a strong advocate of low pressure. This is what ALL of my students have to learn first. Big relaxed breath and then exhale - no CONCIOUS use of the abs to push the air out. The problem with this is that it only works well when the chops are free to do their thing - minimal armstrong. If the lips are clamped down, air cannot easily flow and the concept breaks down. This is why teaching my circle of breath requires a holistic view of what our chops, body, breath and brains are doing.

    Diametrically opposed (well maybe not quite that much) is a high air pressure approach. This is normally taught brainlessly and the assumption from those that really don't know what they are doing is that we can overcome all other deficiencies if we are simply working hard enough. Pokes in the belly and many other ridiculous visualizations are used to "prove" the unworthiness of the student. That does not mean that a higher pressure approach has no merit, it just means that they have no idea what they are doing and blow smoke by making the student feel bad. I use a higher air pressure approach when I play lead in a big band. The body still stays pretty relaxed EXCEPT for the abs when exhaling. Face tension is essentially as low as with the first method. This type of breathing I regard as being very much specialized and requires incredible control of testosterone to make it work.

    Let's look a simple breathing (not playing):
    1) the diaphragm pulls down, lowers the air pressure in the lungs, air flows in at a speed depending on how low the air pressure in the lungs is. Dramatic constriction of the diaphragm is necessary when we want to inhale in a large way quickly. With most people that start lessons with me the diaphragm works, they can inhale BUT only at a greatly reduced capacity because some idiot told them to tense up the abs to "support better" - the two fight each other if used at the same time!
    2) If we really fill up, some air will flow back out with little to no additional effort. To increase the air pressure, we have to tighten the abs or let the rib cage collapse, they ultimately press against the lungs and air flows at a higher rate.
    3) to play well, we really have to practice the big relaxed inhale and the transition to exhale and vice versa. We have to insure when we inhale, it is to a BIG chest cavity with no other muscles fighting the effort
    4) when we exhale in my "standard" lower air pressure way, there is a smooth transition from inhale - not an "explosion" of air. If the face and body are working efficiently, we can get a very large volume of sound and great range this way, and for many of the players that come to TrumpetMaster, this is hundreds of times better than what they are currently doing, and in addition is more than adequate to play all of the types of music where they have real opportunities!
    5) for the specialists (or wannabes) that have that something special attitude, drive and opportunity to play REAL LEAD TRUMPET, there are other options that are primarily only different in the exhale air pressure. While it is not hard to explain it, the chances of getting it right without 1 on 1 lessons is about zero. For all that want to be real lead players, you need to get lessons from a working lead player because crisis management is a VERY big part of being the cutting edge in a big band - not only handling your own issues, but also being THE instance in the group where no questions are asked - only favors! ;-)


    So, now you know what I think about your description of your lessons. I do not however assume that your teacher is an idiot, I have only heard your interpretation of YOUR side. I use the circle of breath to handle all of the basic stuff. Before it is essentially perfected, I will not even talk about lead.

    Do not get the impression that you need a high air pressure approach to play high notes. That is pure BS. The high energy approach only gives the sound a special sizzle that is a part of what is needed in a big band setting. The extreme range lead playing is only partly learnable. It is possible to teach the mechanics, but the brainless will never get how to "dose" those high note musically. They become little more than mechanical tea kettles whistling when things get hot instead of whistling to MAKE THINGS HOT!


    Now back to YOU. If you don't have the body awareness, then those types of exercizes do not have a prominent enough place in your daily routine. You need to assume a good stance, and then experiment with how deeply that you can inhale before you get so tense that a relaxed exhale is no longer possible. You need to practice the in- to exhale transition (I use long tones and lipslurs), you need to practice the relaxed exhale, at the same time you have to increase the efficiency of the face by dealing with whatever issues that you have.


    Good luck!
     
  7. therealnod

    therealnod Pianissimo User

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    That's very well put, rowuk, as per your standard.
    Do you relate the idea of a full, relaxed breathe as "belly breathing?"
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    No. I don't. Watch an infant sleep. THAT is natural, relaxed and a HUGE amount of air for the size of the baby. No lifting shoulders, rib cage not collapsed, no huge expansion of the belly - all of the good stuff. We learn through crappy sitting, walking and standing habits, as well as VERY poor working posture how NOT to breathe correctly. There is a lot to pay attention to. A yoga course is VERY good. Non-competition swimming is VERY good.

     
  9. Kantza

    Kantza Pianissimo User

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    Thanks for the extensive comment, which I had the opportunity to have multiple teachers to have different methods/visions on learning/playing the trumpet.
    & Thanks for your contribution to this forum Rowuk, I've read lots of your posts (your name is almost everywhere :-P) and they are very interessting.
     
  10. barliman2001

    barliman2001 Fortissimo User

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    Kantza, I would suggest that you get yourself a good singing teacher following the Lilli Lehmann method, and ask him/her to explain to you the concept of diaphragm air support.
    You can get by without it; but the moment you go seriously into picc playing, you'll need it. Without it, a picc sounds like a demented oboe on drugs.
     

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