Measuring Lung Capacity (Easy Kitchen Method)

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sethoflagos, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    It's more about putting numbers on those throwaway terms we use so much here. We talk about air flow and how long we can hold a note, but it doesn't really mean that much until we start using real numbers instead of just guessing. A good place to start is to measure the volume of air available to us in our lungs after a big full breathe in.

    It took me 15 minutes from deciding to get off my backside and do something to getting a result, so no excuses! ;-)

    Apparatus is a large bowl, regular shaped non-opaque 8 litre container with a good lid, a couple of feet of plastic tubing, biro, measuring tape and a sink.

    Part fill the bowl with tap water. Fully fill the container and seal it excluding as much air as possible. Invert the container in the bowl so the lid is fully submerged and remove the lid. Insert one end of plastic tubing under the rim of the container. Mark the water level of water inside the container.

    [​IMG]

    Now take a BFB and exhale through the tubing into the container until no more will come. Mark the new level of water inside the container. (If this is below the water level in the bowl, remove some water from the bowl. If air has bubbled out from under the container, you need a bigger container). Mark also the water level in the bowl on the container.

    [​IMG]

    The container I used was as near as makes no odds a 20 cm square. The distance between the first and second marks was 9.1 cm

    Uncorrected lung volume = 20 x 20 x 9.1 = 3,640 cubic centimetres = 3.64 litres

    The difference is minuscule, but just in case there's a smart aleck out there who knows the air is not quite at atmospheric pressure, the difference between mark 2 and mark 3 gives the partial vacuum. -3.6 cm WG in my case and since atmospheric pressure is around 1,020 cm WG, I should correct my result by multiplying by (1,020 - 3.6)/1,020 = 0.9965.

    Corrected lung volume = 3.64 x 0.9965 = 3.63 litres

    You can correct for temperature as well but the effect is similarly minute and I can't be bothered.

    This is pretty much the same sort of kit the medics (used to?) use to measure what they call Vital capacity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    According to their stats, my result looks okay for a bloke my age (56) though 80 kg and 5'11" isn't a small build and I can't say that I'm overly impressed. Maybe my BFB is just a comfortable playing one rather than a full blown bust-a-gut medical one. :-)

    Be interesting to hear others' results.

    PS TOP TIP: After you've taken your measurements, tidy up straight away. Your plastic tubing can easily turn into a syphon and flood your wife's kitchen surfaces. Don't ask me how I know this.
     
    rowuk likes this.
  2. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    Interesting and very engineer-like way of looking at things :-). I'm not sure that this kind of number is really that meaningful though. There are so many other factors at play. How efficient our sound production is may be a more important factor in how long we can keep a note, as a basic example. Playing trumpet is an activity in which tremendous complexity is involved, not the least element of which is the Human mind.

    With many high level motor skill activities, we have to work on the mind once the basic physical stuff is developed enough. That's because the real keys to further progress and the desired result are in the mind. When studying martial arts, one works on the physical only as a mean to go beyond the physical. With many forms of martial arts, the primary emphasis is on the mind from the very beginning.

    One of the greatest gymnast of all time, Kohei Uchimura had all sorts of values measured: strength in various directions, grip, etc. None of these were found to be extraordinary, some were in fact below average. His career, however, is anything but below average. No single objective measurable value conferred him the superiority over other gymnasts he held for so many years. That resides somewhere else.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Seth,

    I love it. My wife is home watching tonight, so, I need to postpone the test. I suspect that with some practice you can beat the system with optimized technique and get at least another litre. I suppose that getting the perfect blow resistance (various tube sizes) could help too. Too free blowing and we don't empty evenly, too stiff and we get that "suffocation" feeling and give up too early. Maybe we need a ½" tube and connect a mouthpiece to it and buzz the container full!
     
  4. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Meaningful in and of itself then probably not.

    But if you look a little further, and combine it with other easily taken measurements all sorts of interesting stuff becomes available to you. If I exhaust a lungful of air in x seconds, I can divide 3.63 by x and now I know my air flow for that note. Stumac's set me off measuring lung pressure, so now I can plot lung pressure against air flow for every note in my tool box. If I multiply lung pressure by air flow, I know how much power is driving the machine for every single note. When we start plotting that against the acoustic output coming out of the bell, we get the system efficiency for every note.

    So what? You'll ask.

    Well it's knowledge. Knowledge as opposed the guesswork, gut feel and prejudice. I've plenty of the last three, but over the years I've found knowledge to be more helpful in achieving my goals. Often in unexpected ways.
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Volume of air IS a significant number. If we are practicing what we should be, we can expand the useful volume of air that we move. This easy test over time will let us quantify if what we are doing is keeping our body big and relaxed. I would venture to say that we can't compare any two peoples volume, but against ourselves, I think this is a great thing and will start using it for trumpet lessons. Keeping the data graphed will show if body use really contributes to that circle of breath I have preached for years. If the students use their own trumpet mouthpieces, I should have little issues with transmittable disease......but perhaps a skew due to flow characteristics of the mouthpiece in a pure DC measurement.
     
  6. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    I don't know to what extent this is limited by physiological makeup, or amenable to improvement by training. I do know that I struggle to get through my full 19/30 warm up for some notes, and tell-tale little kinks in some of the graphs I'm getting are telling me why. I can see now when I'm physically running short of air, and when I'm running into oxygen deprivation. Never really appreciated the difference before.
     
  7. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

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    Great post. My only issue is that we need video, not pics. :cool:

    Mike
     
  8. cb5270

    cb5270 Pianissimo User

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    When I had recent surgery I was given a respirometer(?) and told to make sure I was taking in at least 2000 cc to avoid pneumonia. With this device you exhale completely then inhale thru a large tube using your mouth. Using a super exhale I could take in 4000+ but more realistically a consistant 3750. Being a very amateur player I'm pretty inefficient as I can barely get a 30 second middle C at mf out of this. A minute at pp. What kind of times can you real trumpeters get?
     
  9. tjcombo

    tjcombo Forte User

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    Just what we all need Seth. .. another project :-)

    I recall doing two tests as part of a workplace checkup a few years back that may be relevant here. Both came from a single breath into a piece of measuring gear. One was lung capacity. I don't recall my measurement but do remember that it was higher than any of my colleagues. The other measure which may also be relevant to playing trumpet was rate at which the lungs could be emptied where i was a little below average. I spoke with the clinician about the results he said that the capacity likely had something to do with having played trumpet and that swimmers often have high lung capacity. The exhale rate was likely impacted by athsma (mild) and from having smoked for about 15 years in the past.

    I must ask my GP about doing this test again. It'll be interesting to see if 3 years of trumpet comeback and modern medication, which has virtually eliminated the athsma, has improved the exhale rate.

    whoops, just read the thread properly, and saw references to airflow rates. ..
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  10. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    I'm under the continuing care of a pulmonologist, and I believe I've had about every known battery of medical tests known to man done on my lungs and airways, and even the pulmonologist cannot explain how I can still play my brass instruments. My hypothesis is that by practice that becomes habit much more is accomplished, or otherwise it follows the adage of," It's not what you got, but how you use it.".
     

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