The Importance of Good Breathing

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Johnctrumpet, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. Johnctrumpet

    Johnctrumpet New Friend

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  2. patkins

    patkins Forte User

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    KT, this is an interesting thought you bring up. I play guitar and thru the years have watched other players. There was even a documenatary on the expression of the violin player. What was noted was that the violinist was so rapped up in the music that their facial expressions and body language changed with the intensity or emotion of the music. They "lived it." When I play guitar, it is only when I'm singing that breathing comes into my conscience, for the sake of phrasing of a lyrical concept. When, I am in an instrumental. if it is relaxing my breathing is natural. If it is jazz or flamenco or rapid playing I will hold my breath longer to get through the music, just like a long passage of trumpet music. Thanks for raising an interesting paradigm shift.
     
  3. richtom

    richtom Forte User

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    I don't usually involve myself with these kinds of posts, but I thought I may be able to actually add something without stirring the pot.
    John, just to be certain you know - and you likely do - gmonady is a practicing physician with many years of experience. I do believe there are other MDs who post here as well. They know their anatomy and how it works. If you say something that goes against their medical knowledge, they will point it out to you.
    The great player/pedagogue Arnold Jacobs began his lengthy study of breathing and the mechanics involved in respiration and exhalation many years ago and accumulated many state of the art medical devices (at that time, anyway) and had an incredible medical knowledge of the subject. Being from Chicago, his teachings and knowledge has been part of many teachers' arsenal for those of us who study and perform here.
    Basically, when there is intake, the diaphragm pushes down, allowing air to completely enter the lungs filling them from top to bottom. That is easy, no?
    In the exhalation, there must be no tension in the upper body (or lower body) or in the throat. This dreaded tension will shut off the muscles which will prevent smooth and continuous exhalation into the mouthpiece or reed and that will destroy your playing in sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways.
    Contrary to rumors, Mr. Jacobs did indeed have two lungs. His lungs did not function at 100% yet it never stopped him from being that incredible player/teacher he was.
    I have found in my own playing that the wind patterns Vincent Chicowicz taught do wonders for relaxing the exhalation. For those who may wonder what air patterns are, they are simply blowing the air without a mouthpiece. Imagine a musical phrase from perhaps the Haydn Concerto or a song or even Clarke studies. Put your hand out in front of you lips and feel the smooth air flow. If you have tension somewhere, it will show up on your hand.
    That is pretty much all I can bring to this thread. I do urge all to get the book on Chicowicz and his Air Flow Studies for further learning on this issue.
    RT
     
  4. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

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    " If you could open or close your throat, you'd choke to death some night in your sleep ! The only part of your throat that has anything to do with playing the trumpet is your windpipe, and the only time the windpipe is closed ( covered by the epiglottis ) is when you are swallowing ( to prevent food from entering the lungs ) and when you are about to cough . So if you are blowing at all, the throat is as open as it can possibly get . The only other way to restrict the flow of air in your throat area would be to raise the tongue in the back, but this would never happen unless the student was specifically taught to do it, since the natural movement of the tongue occurs in the front-center portion. "
    William B. Knevitt
     
  5. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

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    not to argue with the famous GM -- but I do believe if (opening the throat is "misinformation" ))then it exists on a wide array of trumpet site, from some "noted" people --- but that is just me --- pointing out that JohnC is at least as correct as the famous "Pops" from trumpet college fame -- and I believe he has many supporters on this site ----


    Breath, Arch, Pivot

    """If the jaw is pushed forward slightly this will cause the throat opening to be larger than it normally is. Try it. Move the jaw forward slowly and check if you can feel your throat open up.""""

    Yes Patkins -- thank you for your synopsis on breathing and different instruments and styles of play
     
  6. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    It's been accepted by wind players for over two hundred years that we breathe in through the mouth. Why? because we can get a LOT MORE air QUICKER than breathing in through the nose. Why is this needed because there are lots of time in music performance that we have only a fraction of a second to get as much air as we can. You just can do this through the nose. If we could we would. We are not mindless people just following a tradition.

    John C is correct in this!
     
  7. richtom

    richtom Forte User

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    It is indeed rare when I will have a slight disagreement with Bob Grier, but I do now.
    Few trumpet player/teachers knew more about breathing that Vincent Chicowicz. From the Luis Loubriel book "Back to Basics for Trumpeters", the book he wrote on the Chicowicz teachings, on page 99, we have this:
    " Chicowicz once said that 'When Bob Lambert, who was principal trombone in the Chicago Symphony for many years, had a high note entrance he would breathe in through his nose. He did that partly to position the lips in the shape required to play the note and the taking of a breath in this way would not disrupt the embouchure' ".
    Chicowicz felt nose breathing for beginners is useful as it helps them establish a firm idea of their embouchure. Beginners have a tendency to instinctively nose breath. Chicowicz did believe that advanced players certainly could use nose breathing in the manner of Bob Lambert, but did not recommend it for general playing. Another advocate for nose breathing in high tessitura was none other than Timofei Dokschizer.
    I rarely breathe in through the nose and when I do, it is usually because of an entrance like the above. Especially when there is only time to take a very quick breath.
    Of course, mouth breathing is the real method, but a nose breath can serve a very solid purpose in the rare time it might be of benefit.
    RT
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2012
  8. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    My teacher advocates nose breaths for this exact same reason. In my case, he makes me especially watchful, as I tend to have my lips too wide apart and too open when attacking. He makes me use it for all attacks and I can tell the benefit. In fact, it has even started to transfer positively to regular breaths, as I have my lips set better now even after those.
     
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  9. ultratrumpet

    ultratrumpet Piano User

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    When your lips are together , you have a prayer
    If your lips are apart, you'll get nothing but air
     
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  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    I'm not sure where Gary is going on this thread with the hammering of the OP and the helium thing. Disclaimer: I am no expert in trumpet technique, just an amateur; I am not a medical doctor but I am a registered nurse (critical care) and I have some notions of anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system. I also have some basis in physics. I am pretty confident in the following facts from my discussions with pulmonologists and readings.

    It is impossible for air to leave the lungs unless the pressure in the lungs increases above ambient pressure and there is a patent opening that the air can go through. That is a fact of physics. Usually, the opening is not the problem. When we inhale, we use a variety of muscles (diaphragm should be the chief one, and intercostals) to expand the lung cavity, thereby creating a pressure differential, and the air rushes in. Once the lungs are full, if we just relax everything, the elastic recoil of the chest is enough to create a higher pressure in the lung cavity than the ambient pressure and the air goes out. I recommend the sticky to Greg Spence's site, where he talks about air support and covers that very subject. We can use abdominal muscles to increase the pressure differential, thereby making the air go out faster or overcome resistance (such as lips pressed together), or empty the lungs beyond the volume that would typically be exchanged on a "normal" breath. I don't think there is any controversy about this.

    As for the discussion on opening the throat, I think people get wrapped up in miscommunication because they ascribe different meanings to the word. Those who say that we can not close the throat even if we try are talking about the trachea/larynx and they are right. The others, who say that their "throat" get in the way of playing, are probably talking about the pharynx. There is well over 10 pairs of muscles involved in shaping the pharynx and we use them in a mix of voluntary and involuntary ways. The typical example is swallowing, which we can decide to do, but then involves a package of mandatory sequential actions from muscles that we are normally unable to control in isolation. There is more voluntary control involved in speaking, singing or "clearing" the thoat.

    Changing the shape of the pharynx in any of its subparts does interfere with the air column and therefore can negatively affect trumpet playing. We often unconsciously try to transfer to trumpet what we do when speaking or singing and that involves the pharynx. Try to sing a note with a given vowel; keep the same vowel but ascend and descend on the scale. Is there not a change of shape? Is it not possible to experience the same thing while playing trumpet? I do not pretend to challenge the opinion of experts on either trumpet teaching or medicine but I know very well what I've so far experienced in my playing/learning and it is entirely consistent with unnecessary shape modification of the pharynx. In my experience, "opening the throat" means simply not using these muscles so that no unnecessary shape change interferes with the air column. My teacher has decades of experience teaching at the college level, including graduate level in trumpet performance, and he agrees with that.

    So I will continue to use that interpretation and visualization for myself, as it has worked quite well in the recent past to help improve my playing. I suspect that perhaps some players never exerience such problems and they can not relate very well, or they dismiss it in the intention of having students not worry about it and naturally relax the pharynx. I don't know and don't really care, since I know what has been working for me so far.

    Last thing I'll say about this subject has to do with swimming, scuba diving and holding your breath. Take a big deep breath, as if you're going to try to swim a full olympic basin length underwater. How do you keep the air in? Do you keep the intercostal muscles contracted so that the chest is kept expanded and no positive pressure is created? Or do you relax these muscles and, somehow, close the way between lungs and outside air? My guess is that if anyone is going to try holding for a minute or more, it's the latter. If you actually are going underwater, it has to be the latter. I can take a big breath, fully relax my chest, close the opening, then let the air out little puffs at a time by opening for a short time, which is the best way to manage your air when scuba-diving. I have no problem swallowing at any time while holding the air in. I'm not entirely sure about all the details of what it is that I close and open but it's not surprising that it's referred to as "the throat" in layman's terms. So, from that experience, I claim that it is possible to "close the throat" and I will not be convinced otherwise. Perhaps the experts can clarify what throat means in this case.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
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