How do I breathe and exhale deeply?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetandbass535, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. trumpetandbass535

    trumpetandbass535 New Friend

    Nov 4, 2006
    Nazareth, PA
    Hi. Just some background info first- I've been playing for about 5 1/2 years and I play on a Bach Stradivarius with a 3C mouthpiece (not sure of the brand.) For the past 2-3 weeks, during my lessons, my teacher has told me that I "am not taking deep breaths and not filling the horn with enough air." He says that because of this, I am not getting a good, open tone and I am not able to play as well as I could if I could take a deep breath. How do I do this? I tried his suggestions, but they didn't really work (i.e. visualising the belly being filled with air, placing your hand on your stomach while lying down.) Help! This is extremely frustrating:-(!
  2. trumpet520

    trumpet520 Pianissimo User

    Oct 25, 2006
    Try playing while inhaling throught your nose. It well help you identify the right airflow passage to the belly and then you can find it while inhaling through your mouth.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I am not sure you have the whole story. Enough air is critical and you surely are capable of breathing deeply. After you take that deep breath, the most critical moment comes - change from inhale to exhale without tightening the throat or trying to hold the air in. You MUST immediately EXHALE after filling up. Holding the air in or tightening the throat will DESTROY your sound.
    If you have been breathing wrong, have patience, it will take time to break the terrible habit. This is why a good teacher is necessary from day one.

    The quality of your sound is not linear to the amount of air that you intake (there will be great debate on this point). The big breath is there to make other factors function properly.
    I teach: inhale deeply and when you are full up, immediately start to exhale. Practice this without tonguing. Inhale-exhale. You can also put a cardboard tube (like from a toilet paper roll) in your mouth and practice "openly" inhaling-exhaling. Be careful not to hyperventilate when practicing - if you black out, you may not be practicing further for a while!
  4. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    I’m with rowuk and trumpet520 on this one! Here’s some input to support these ideas and expand on what has already been said.

    Here are two excerpts related to posture and breathing from a masterclass that I attended given by David Krauss (Principal Trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera in New York). You may enjoy reading the entire post (click on the blue link).

    The Posture

    David stressed that there are three things that are critical when you watch any fine singer in any role…sitting up, laying down, jumping through the air…Posture is always present. Posture in this case means:

    • • The head is always back,
      • the shoulders are always down, and
      • the chest is always in a prominent position.

    When you watch the greatest trumpet players, the same aspects of posture are always present. He said, “there’s no excuse for me to be sitting in the pit in my tuxedo in a comfortable chair and not have this set-upâ€.

    Then he got to one of my favorite illustrations of his entire presentation. He told us that he is a Dad with twin 7-year-old boys that are both very into Superman and Batman. He said, “When you watch these cartoons…†and then he imitated what you would expect to see a Superhero do, “chest is out…Superman…ready to go!†I just loved that example! By taking a Superhero pose, a very vivid image is created in my mind, and posture naturally follows from this very simple mental queue.

    What a Singer Looks Like When They Breathe

    This portion of David’s presentation was very telling of the influence that the vocalists at the Met have had on him. He said, “most of the progress that I have made lately in my playing is directly related to watching singers breathe. You never see a singer take a big gulping breath.†He said that when singers breathe their breaths are varied in speed and are generally slower than those of instrumentalists. Then he made a reference to Enrico Caruso and said Caruso would advocate nose breathing because not only does it slow the inflow rate, it puts the air in a better place, setting up a Superhero pose. So, in essence, this posture allows you to take a good breath, and this type of breathing sets up good posture! I think that is a HUGE concept! Everyday that I have practiced since the conference, I have been very conscious of breathing through my nose and envisioning Superman. I am literally putting myself in a position to arrive at some of my very best sounds! This posture then dovetails into the next very important concept.

    I recently had a lesson with David and he suggested that my intake breath was too fast and I would benefit from a slower nose breath when there was time (especially the first phrase of a piece). He commented again about Caruso’s suggestion and provided me with the specific reference:

    Hope these ideas are helpful to you. Discuss them with your teacher and have him help you incorporate them into your daily playing!
  5. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    To continue with the idea of turning the air around immediately that rowuk mentioned, here are some great quotes from Jay Friedman and John Hagstrom from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Manny Laureano (one of our TM resident experts).

    Releasing vs. Pushing or Forcing-------

    The key to defining “releasing†is to look at the very beginning of the exhale and the very end of the exhale.

    At the Beginning of the Exhale:

    An air delivery system that focuses on the concept of active air, passive body (a proper weakness of the respiratory muscles) leads to sound without comparison. I love these quotes from Jay Friedman and Manny Laureano, “A column of air produces maximum resonance when the muscles around it are completely at rest.†“Tense abs, no air. Loose abs, lots of airâ€. "Strength is my enemy, weakness is my friend".

    There is a really great article by John Hagstrom (from the Chicago Symphony) where he provides some good comments related to your question:

    Summary: If there is even a slight hesitation (say, less than a sixteenth note) between your inhale and exhale, you will not be “releasingâ€. You will be pushing and you will have introduced tension into the breathing. You will know when you are doing it right, because everything you play will feel unusually easy. When you lose concentration, this hesitation can creep back into your playing, and you will be pushing again. It’s very subtle and very obvious all at the same time!

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