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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Releasing Vs. Pushing. in the General forums; Many say that the key to playing is to learn how to release the air as oppose to pushing and ...
  1. #1
    Pianissimo User
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Releasing Vs. Pushing.

    Many say that the key to playing is to learn how to release the air as oppose to pushing and forcing the air.

    Any one care to explain to me so that I can better understand how you release the air?


  2. #2
    Mezzo Forte User jcstites's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Tallahassee, FL
    Another way to think of it if think of blowing through a garden hose instead of a straw.

    Kevin Cobb worked with me on that this past summer, and those words "garden hose" alone changed the way I play.

  3. #3
    Mezzo Forte User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    What my teacher has me do really helps with this. I have a huge problem with the way I breathe when I get into my upper register. I tend to push down from the top of my chest and the air just get's cut off...which isn't good.

    When he notices me having problems like that, he pulls out a blank sheet of paper and holds it up in front of my face. Then, like Mr. Laureano has told me all the time, he tells me to take a deep breath and breathe out like I'm saying "HOO" that the breath is nice and smooth and relaxed when it comes out. The object is to blow the paper back with a nice big breath but without pushing for it.

    I hope that makes's kind of hard to explain without being in person...


  4. #4
    Forte User
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Basically what you are after is a tension free immediate release of the air with a flow rate that is appropriate for the sound that you are after.

    As Dave Bacon is always saying, "don’t fight the pipe!”

  5. #5
    Mezzo Piano User Derek Reaban's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    There are lots of good comments here already.

    Releasing vs. Pushing or Forcing-------

    The key to defining “releasing” is to look at the very beginning of the exhale and the very end of the exhale. I like what dizforprez and Dave Bacon have said in the above post.

    At the Beginning of the Exhale:

    An air delivery system that focuses on the concept of active air, passive body (a proper weakness of the respiratory muscles) leads to sound without comparison. I love these quotes from Jay Friedman and Manny Laureano, “A column of air produces maximum resonance when the muscles around it are completely at rest.” “Tense abs, no air. Loose abs, lots of air”. "Strength is my enemy, weakness is my friend".

    • Jay Friedman Quote:
      If the air starts quickly enough, then the body can stay relaxed and assume its vital function as a resonating chamber. If the air starts too slow, then the body must push air in the middle of the note, AND THE WHOLE THING IS RUINED. I can not stress the importance of this statement enough.

    There is a really great article by John Hagstrom (from the Chicago Symphony) where he provides some good comments related to your question:

    • He says, "The biggest misconception of Chicago Symphony high brass tone production: It is that we are blowing huge quantities of air through the instrument in the way the trombones and tuba do. This is false, but it is not hard to see how this misconception starts and spreads. Everyone has been told at one time or another in their training to use more air support, which gets distilled down into 'Use more air!'

      At first, our sense of what it feels like to use more air is rather crude, but our efforts in that direction pay off handsomely. Tone and consistency improve, but

      the improvement is the result of air being put into the position of starting the sound,

      with the lips and tongue being much more of a reaction to the air. Even so, the player may improperly conclude that it was the quantity of air that made the difference, when it really was

      the immediacy and the compression of the air that were responsible for the improvements.

      In fact, the trumpets and horns are blowing much harder than the trombones and tuba, but much less air quantity actually goes into the trumpet and horns, especially in the high register.

      The goal of efficient high brass tone production is to have

      the action of the air at the beginning of the tone generation process.

      Combined with a strong and healthy mental image of what the player is trying to sound like, the lips and tongue will gradually begin to react in balance with the air to create the desired sound."

    Summary: If there is even a slight hesitation (say, less than a sixteenth note) between your inhale and exhale, you will not be “releasing”. You will be pushing and you will have introduced tension into the breathing. You will know when you are doing it right, because everything you play will feel unusually easy. When you lose concentration, this hesitation can creep back into your playing, and you will be pushing again. It’s very subtle and very obvious all at the same time!

    At the End of the Exhale:

    This is something that I have written in the past:

    As I understand it, the act of blowing and pushing uses exactly the same muscles. The only difference that I attach to these terms is that blowing the air out occurs above the zero pressure line (positive air), and pushing occurs below the zero pressure line (negative air). Blowing the air out is certainly possible on positive air and imparts energy to the phrase (energetic air). Many authors discuss this (Arnold Jacobs, John Hagstrom, Bob Findley, Don Jacoby), and the finest players certainly “blow” the air to energize their phrases (you can observe this when Mr. Herseth plays).
    Summary: You can continue releasing the air as long as you stay above the “zero pressure” line. As long as you have “released” the air to start the phrase, you can blow the air. If you have dipped below the zero pressure line into negative air, you will no longer be blowing…you will be pushing. If you had even the slightest hesitation between your inhale and exhale, you will also be pushing, even though you are above the zero pressure line.
    Derek Reaban
    Tempe, Arizona

  6. #6
    Piano User
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    My Teacher told me that think of playing as you were blowing out a candle, nice, full and even breath.

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