rowuk....breathing exercises?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by crowmadic, Oct 5, 2009.

  1. crowmadic

    crowmadic Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 3, 2006
    rowuk, and anyone else that wants to contribute. You advised breathing exercises on another thread for the person that ("blew his lip out"). I don't do any breathing exercises, and wondered if you would share the ones you do for yourself, and have your students do. I searched for previous threads about this but couldn't find any.

  2. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    Get a metronome:
    Set it to 80
    Breath in to your Max for 4
    Exhale to you Max for 4
    repeat 10 times
    in for 3
    out for 3
    repeat 8 times
    in for 2
    out for 2
    repeat 6 times
    in for 1
    out for 1
    repeat 10 times

    Breath in until your Max. Sip some more air, repeat, repeat, repeat. Slowly exhale.
    Repeat as needed.

    Breath in until your Max. Suck on back of hand. Pull hand away from mouth, should get a popping sound. Don't do more than 4 times.

    Remember to always keep a good oral shape and to not strain the air. Push yourself but stay smart. I have seen people pass out from excerses. If you are yawning then you are working.

    Remember to take breaks in between excersies. You should never be in pain afterward either.

    Hope this helps
  3. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    By coincidense also I have been trying to find some good
    breathing exercises, and I´ve been studying the Wedge
    and Yoga breathing exercises at the web.

    The ones you provide here are some good ones, and I
    especially appriciate no. 3, the "Suck your hand" exercise.
    The concept is new to me, I like doing it and it feels like working!

    Thanks a lot!:-)
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  4. Leland Vall

    Leland Vall New Friend

    Oct 5, 2009
    New York, NY
    Optimum breathing is part of the continuum of living, not just playing your instrument. The better you breathe generally, the better you will breathe while playing. As an Alexander Technique instructor, I help people to develop an easy and lengthened exhale with a reflexive inhale.

    The most common problem in breathing is not giving enough time for the exhale to complete, leaving a high residual volume of air in the lungs. The high residual volume leaves the diaphragm semi contracted, which then makes the next inhale more difficult. Over time, the reduced excursion of the diaphragm (caused by high residual volumes) causes the diaphragm to weaken and also changes how muscles respond in the breath cycle.

    The best breathing exercises are ones that focus on developing the length and ease of the exhale. A more fully completed exhale leads to an almost instantaneous and silent inhale. I often encourage people to enjoy their exhale, luxuriate in it, with the complete confidence that another inhale will always follow right behind. Over time you can be surprised about the easy support you can have, even with what seems like the last bits of air. I don't recommend anything that slows down the inhale once it has started, and you certainly wouldn't want that while playing.

    To finish up, the problem with breathing is often over breathing and too much focus on the inhale. Learn to give the exhale more time without forcing and you will feel better. After a longer exhale, the inhale is very quick and inevitable.
    FreeYour Breathing with the Alexander Technique - MP3 Exercie Recording
  5. SpiritDCI08

    SpiritDCI08 Piano User

    Feb 11, 2009
    Fort Campbell, KY
    No problem Sofus
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Leland has an approach VERY close to mine, although I have only had a couple of Alexander technique, Feldenkrais and a bit more yoga lessons.

    It all amounts to the realisation that we have a choice and that we are the problem and the solution. For the most part, the "intrusion" on our bodies is low impact with many repetitions and is suitable for all ages.

    Crow, you have read about my "circle of breath". That is the visualisation big breath, smooth transition from inhale to exhale and reverse. More important and probably the hard part, is the act of preparing to start an action. When I move the horn to my face, I am standing (or sitting) up straight but relaxed. I do not move my body out of balance by moving my head towards the horn, the horn gets moved to my face. I prepare mentally for the note or notes to be played and then take a concious breath and play. Breathing becomes a fluid motion with little anxiety or unnecessary body tension. The exhale is so smooth, that I rarely crack a note.

    To further develop my breathing, I ride my bike to work 3-4 times a week. It is about 8 miles one way. I also swim, a lot underwater and a lot of backstroke.

    At work, I often take a couple of breathing minutes after stressful meetings. My circle of breath is VERY BIG in that case.

    That circle of breath has been the core of my teaching for over 30 years. It is dogma and religion free. It keeps me in touch with my body without any complicated movements or exercizes to memorize. It is free to anyone willing to pay attention.

    For it to work, we only really need to be able to relax.
  7. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Not an exercise, per se, but more an attitude--we see breathing as being something active, but I find an equally strong argument that good breathing is passive.

    When we "inhale" we lower the air pressure in our lungs below that of the surrounding air. At this point, physics takes over and air comes rushing into our lungs to equalize air pressures--we do not "suck in air"--it comes in happily and voluntarily. The only active part is creating the drop in air pressure.

    Have fun!
  8. Leland Vall

    Leland Vall New Friend

    Oct 5, 2009
    New York, NY
    My main point is that breathing is not so much about the inhale, it is about allowing the exhale to more fully complete. When the lungs are partially filled, it is more difficult to take a new breath. And that is every breath. As soon as a breathing exercise says, "take a deep breath," it isn't really focusing on the problem. Right from the beginning, think that your breathing starts on the exhale and you might find it goes a little better.

    Here is a self- exploration exercise from my website.

    You can complete this self-exploration exercise within a few minutes.

    While you are reading this, sit all the way back in your chair and let your feet rest on the floor.

    Allow your neck to be soft and your breathing to be easy.
    Point your spine up.

    Think of your breathing as ocean waves so that breathing is something that is happening to you as opposed to something that you are doing. Like waves, your breaths may range from large to small and they may come at regular or irregular intervals. Don't be afraid to take a breath if you feel that you need one.

    Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest.
    For each exhale, allow your abdomen to soften and your chest to fall, while continuing to point your spine up.

    With this same normal breath, allow yourself to use your mouth to silently count to five during your exhale. Allow your jaw to move easily and let the numbers run together, almost as if you are singing them. 1-2-3-4-5.

    Try to focus mainly on your exhale and allow the inhale to silently wash in so that you don't have to "take" a breath.

    Don't count during the inhale.

    Allow these conditions to remain the same so that your exhale remains effortless with a softening of your abdomen and a falling of your chest as you continue to point your spine up.

    Without forcing your exhale or using any extra pressure, you can repeat the count to five during the same exhale until the obvious conclusion of your exhale. Do not try to achieve a certain number, you are simply counting as you breathe, not breathing to a count. At the end of each exhale, the inhale comes and the cycle starts again.

    After a few breaths you can try the count to five on your voice while continuing to allow for a softening in your abdomen and a falling in your chest. Notice any increased effort and try to make the sound as easily as you can.

    Stop after four or five breaths and notice any differences.

    If you find it helpful you can take a minute to do this investigation at any
    time during the day.

    Stop if you feel uncomfortable or dizzy.
  9. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Fellow trumpeters and friends!

    Every time exercising and technique is discussed,
    the risk of dividing us into two groups seems inevitable!

    One group will talk about how to expand lung volume or
    increase muscle development and endurance.
    Let´s call them the "exercising" group.

    The other group will talk about the importance of using
    a relaxed, finetuned technique where no unnecessary
    muscle work is done.
    Let´s call this group the "technique" group.

    Unfortunately, very often the two groups seem to think
    that they are opposing to each other!!

    My opinion is: exercising is something you do to
    expand the capability of the tools you use when for instance
    you play the trumpet. These tools are the lips, the lungs etc.
    Working on a technique is something else; it´s learning how
    to use the exercised tools in a relaxed, finetuned way!

    They are not in conflict with each other! The important thing
    is that you give both of them the necessary attention.
    I can understand the fear that the Technique group has about
    people believing that excessive muscle work is the Big Sollution
    to everything, and that the Exercising group is the kind of people
    who do not understand the importance of relaxation and finetuning.

    However, I don´t think the Exercising group is this ignorant at all.
    I personally belong to the group that thinks that one can exercise
    muscles to give them more strength and endurance, and by additional
    practising also achieve a good, relaxed and finetuned technique.
    I also believe that when muscles are strong enough to feel that the work
    they have to do is done easily, then the chance of doing the work in a
    more relaxed way without extra tension in the wrong places is also bigger.
    Why there should be a conflict between the two I can not understand . . .
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  10. crowmadic

    crowmadic Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 3, 2006
    These are all good suggestions. My concern about emptying the lungs before another inhale is that as an exercise it works for me. But applied to playing I find the last notes of the "emptying" to be weak if produceable at all. I'm assuming these exercises are meant to be done seperately from playing the horn, yes, no?

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009

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