Wedge Breathing

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by chrisryche, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    You may have a point, I am pretty sure that you may miss our point though.

    What is a serious question?
    Where does spoon feeding start?
    What is the function of a free forum?
    What "requirements" can you place for free?
    What is a good answer for something as personal as your state of playing - when NO ONE HERE HAS EVER HEARD YOU PLAY.

    I think that many ask questions and aren't even serious about them - we notice this when there is an initial (poorly qualified) question. That causes us to ask questions that never get answered.

    Take this thread for instance: an unknown person claims to be using the wedge, and claims to not be getting results. No further response. If there was real interest it would have gone further. Let's assume that this person REALLY was using the wedge - where do we offer help? Who showed them the wedge, who is monitoring the process? what do they say?

    Unfortunately, throwing terms around is very big on an open forum. What the wedge is, how to correctly perform it, what effect it has on our playing are no mysteries. Now we have a poster saying "I am doing it and it doesn't work. Any comments?". Doesn't work is a pretty stupid description for anything and perhaps does not even deserve a serious answer. A serious answer however would look like this:

    1) what are you doing that makes you claim to be practicing the wedge? (here we define if the question is copy paste or if this is BS from the get go)
    2) how did you decide to start using the wedge?
    3) what are your expectations for using the wedge
    4) how much do you practice every day?
    5) what do you practice every day
    6) what ensembles do you play with
    7) describe in detail what is not working

    If we even get answers, I can guarantee the following: The thread owner does NOT really know what the wedge is. They were perhaps thinking about hitting higher notes and got the catch phrase from somewhere. They have problems with conventional breathing as well as other bad playing habits that need to be solved before a wedge could become useful. They started a thread and abandoned it before it even got started. Now over a year later you blame the Trumpetmaster Cadre. In the light of what I just posted, you understand what I think about this "opinion" of yours.

    It is REALLY TOUGH to dictate common sense. When someone has a "problem", the description "doesn't work" doesn't get you help anywhere. If a member knows what the wedge really is, they have the tools to judge their progress. If they read about something, they can ask a question about what they read. With a little bit of thinking, they will give us a description that helps judge the question as even worth answering.
     
  2. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Ditto^2!

    Too many times the OP drops a question and doesn't have the courtesy to even acknowledge that
    anyone has replied to their question.
     
    bumblebee likes this.
  3. BigSwingFace

    BigSwingFace Pianissimo User

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    I only suffer from it after I've eaten too many wedges; and it's never a good idea to eat before putting air through your horn.
     
  4. fels

    fels Piano User

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    Thanks for acknowledging the possible point.

    I found this thread using the research box and most of the hits related to mouthpieces.
    Researching threads that degrade into puns is usually frustrating. I continue to do it because someone occasionally drops a gem of useful information.
    As a moderator, you have pointed out the same frustrations. We agree.

    You focused on my SNL reference.

    My interest in "wedge breathing" continues:

    You have not heard me play.
    I referenced that my early lessons were in the sixties (grade school and Jr High)
    My "come back" has been ongoing since the mid 80s.
    I have studied with orchestral and jazz professionals.
    I own my own professional business and practice whenever i can.
    I play in a community band, a brass quintet and a big band jazz group.
    The jazz group is moving up to pro level charts.
    I play lead.
    I am trying to improve register, interpretation and endurance.
    I arranged a lesson, with a professional lead player, who made the observations i noted earlier about breath and breathing.
    He used the term Wedge.
    I am just trying to understand the concept more broadly - thus the research.
    Obviously, i will continue to discuss it with my instructor.

    My interest is serious.

    Thank you.
     
  5. BigSwingFace

    BigSwingFace Pianissimo User

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    There are probably many who use the wedge breath technique without explicitly calling it that. Roger Ingram "Wedge Breath" Pt. 1 of 2 | Music Lessons Springfield MO - YouTube

    Roger Ingram is one of the more famous proponents of the method. My understanding of it is that your chest shouldn't drop...but it should return to your "pre-breath" position. In other words...it's ok for the shoulders to rise up during the inhale as long as they relax again after you're filled up. Maynard proposed yoga breathing techniques to energize the airstream. You can clearly see how he uses his whole body to direct his air in videos of him.
     
  6. fels

    fels Piano User

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    Thanks - will follow up with the Ingram links
     
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    There are many aspects to playing the horn and they are all related. It makes little sense to try and patch only one aspect of our playing.

    Expanding the upper register consists of a pretty much standard collection of skills:

    Relaxed body
    proper synchronization of the tongue, face muscles, breathing, hearing and brain processing
    Our upper register gets better when we REDUCE force and start playing smart
    Especially the lead book requires the player to have superior timing and intonation skills. They set the razors edge on the section sound.
    It is hard to mix lead and "legit" playing early in the career. Once the skill set for lead has been committed to patterns in your head, it is possible to expand the range of things that you do. The major problem with wannabe lead players is their broad sound concept that comes from legit playing. That really does limit their ability to get the close focus required in the extreme upper register. If a student came to me and wanted to learn the lead book, I would probably demand that they play NOTHING else except what I feed them for at least 6 months. During that time there would be a heavy dose of lipslurs, intervals, rhythmic studies, section leader training, non-wedge breathing, breathing , breathing. If we got to the point where the head, face and body start to communicate, then we can turn the fire up with controlled force possible with a wedge type breathing approach. This happens LATER in the process. It is ADDED to the well developed playing concept! If the body and face aren't ready, we just end up beating you up with little to show for it at the end of the day. Playing real lead needs attitude before body. It needs a will to succeed that overcomes any pain or inconvenience. It requires a player that will not accept 100% as enough.
     
  8. fels

    fels Piano User

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    Thank you rowuk

    I agree with your holistic approach.

    In this case, the upper register is only one of the study points I am pursuing. The other issues you note are in my study objectives. I understand their context. I did not fully understand the context of so called Wedge breathing - consequently the research and reach out.
     
  9. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Hi chrisryche/fels,
    Yes I'm familiar with Wedge Breathing. I only use this method of breathing if I'm doing high energy Maynard Ferguson stratospheric type stuff. Wedge came about from Bobby Shew who discovered it by watching how Maynard would breathe. Do I advocate this type of breathing?
    No!
    Why? Most people fail to follow just the basics and can not use the air correctly. Wedge is a specialized method which is excellent for hot compression type playing. My phylosophy is to learn the basics before modifying. Never the less, here goes:
    1. Start to inhale (slowly at first to get the flow of this breathing concept) taking 10% of your total breath by allowing your stomach to move outward.
    2. Keep inhaling but take the next 10% of your total breath with your stomach moving inward.
    3. Keep inhaling but keep your stomach inward and lift your shoulders and chest upwards (not outwards!) to take the remaining 80% of your total breath.
    4.While still slightly inhaling, bring your shoulders and chest back to their original position.
    Remember! Keep your stomach "WEDGED" (pushed in) the entire time after step (2). This is the "Wedge" you must maintain for the compression
    If you wish to learn more, go to Bobby Shew's web site for more.
    Hope this helps
    Dr.Mark
     
  10. fels

    fels Piano User

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    Yes - your response and the others have been very helpful. To those who responded - thanks.

    I do not plan to try for the stratosphere - I am happy wandering around Cs and Ds on top of the staff. I think the cycle of filling the lungs through the chest is helpful even for ordinary folks like myself. It tends to correct posture issues and allows more free release of the air. The air compression stage (wedge) is another issue to deal with later. Interesting concept though.
     

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