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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Circular Breathing in the General forums; Does anyone practice circular breathing and if so do you apply it to trumpet playing? I recently read some information ...
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    May 2008

    Circular Breathing

    Does anyone practice circular breathing and if so do you apply it to trumpet playing? I recently read some information on circular breathing from the internet and was quite intrigued. I went home after work, picked up a drinking straw from the gas station, and began to try the circular breathing technique. I used the straw in a cup of water and attempted to keep the bubbles flowing steadily and constantly. I picked the technique up quickly and I was able to keep it going once for five minutes. I then tried to apply this just with the mouthpiece but it is tremendously difficult to keep the buzz with just the air in your cheeks while simultaneously breathing in. I have read that some good players use it but that it takes years to master. I would like to know of anyones experience or opinions regarding circular breathing.
    Last edited by alexbegins24; 12-05-2008 at 04:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Piano User dlewis's Avatar
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    Nov 2006

    Re: Circular Breathing

    Check youtube vidoes of Mendez and clark Terry it will blow your mind. Wynton also will use circular breathing

  3. #3
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: Circular Breathing

    I think this is a technique that one learns in their spare time.

    The teaching time is too valuable to spend on this seldom needed technique. I find that I need to spend more time getting students to phrase logically.

    You just need to do it. I spent about 4 weeks after buying Mendéz Perpetuum Mobile LP and pretty much got the hang of it, even if not in the same league as my idol back then.
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

  4. #4
    Piano User willbarber's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Medina, NY

    Re: Circular Breathing

    I picked the basics up pretty quick, after building a homemade didgeridoo, but I still can't5 circular breathe on it.
    I went for 3 minutes on my trumpet, though, on a G on the staff. I could go for longer now, that was about a year ago.
    When we're warming up for marching band it's fun to practice, since it's only a concet Bb scale, which is mindless stuff.

  5. #5
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    Re: Circular Breathing


    Sounds like fine trainning: to be sure, Alex. Nevertheless, it won't be long before technologically viable, lung augmentation will allow us a prolonged stamina, and indefinite air-capacity. -I'd guess that a lot of Musicians that currently choose not to play wind-instruments, will do so, given the ability to play without need for pause.

    The likely timeframe is ten to thirty years, before we see radical synthetic, lung replacement. Probably less than ten years, before we can utilize nanorobotic-lung enhancement- theoretically allowing us several minutes of continual play.

    Last edited by godchaser; 12-05-2008 at 06:11 PM.

  6. #6
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    Salisbury, MD

    Re: Circular Breathing

    I got serious about it after attending a master class with Jimmy Owens. He used it extensively so I asked him about it. He said that he didn't like that empty air feeling, so he filled up whenever he needed to. It took me about a month to get the hang of it so that I could try without someone hearing a huge blip in my sound. Now, it is second nature and I can do it any time. But, as Rowuk said, there aren't that many opportunities where it is really required.

    One solo that I have used it on is the cadenza on Mendez's La Virgen de la Marcarena. But, even there, it is kind of a parlor trick.

    I play a lot of sight reading gigs and they can sometimes catch you a little off guard if you haven't thought out your breathing real well. For me, it is nice to know that if I choose poorly while sight reading, that I can grab some extra air.


  7. #7
    Pianissimo User trumpetlore's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Rochester, NY

    Re: Circular Breathing

    Circular breathing is another great tool. I think it's best used as described to me by Bill Watrous about 12 years ago. He said "Circular breathing should only be used to extend a phrase." He went on to explain that the only time it was musically useful is to extend a phrase past where you would normally take a breath. This can really draw an audience into what you are playing...
    I suppose it is a parlor trick as well, but I prefer what Watrous said...
    For me, a great time to use this would be in the lyric solo from Don Juan. Circular breathing in this helps me not cause any breaks anywhere. I can play it much more like a string player, which sounds wonderful.

  8. #8
    Piano User westview1900's Avatar
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    Nov 2005

    Re: Circular Breathing

    Here are some tips which I've found:
    How Can I Learn Circular Breathing?

    Circular Breathing

    One of my favorite practitioners of this skill was Rashaan Roland Kirk:
    the Rahsaan Roland Kirk website
    Thank goodness for music.

  9. #9
    Mezzo Piano User Bach219's Avatar
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    Jun 2008

    Re: Circular Breathing

    I actually read about Circular Breathing about 2 months ago. And a few days later, in band, I could hold a middle (on staff) C for minutes! The only thing I really need to work on now, is changing notes and actually playing a song!lol
    Last edited by Bach219; 12-05-2008 at 10:49 PM.

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