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Trumpet Discussion Discuss The so called "Breathe Support" in the General forums; Hi all, I am 18 and have been playing now for a few years. I feel I make quite a ...
  1. #1
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    Nov 2009

    The so called "Breathe Support"

    Hi all,

    I am 18 and have been playing now for a few years. I feel I make quite a nice sound at times but without a doubt my greatest weakness is my range. I have been fortunate to receive one off lessons with some quite high profile players in the past but I was a little young and so can't remember all info that was taught-I was a bit naive I guess.

    I really enjoy trying to seek tips on the internet from many tops players such as hardenberger, vizzutti, andre etc. And so with regards to playing high and playing in general here is what I have read is best:

    1. Relaxed deep breath (immediately exhale-don't hold breath) and being relaxed in general
    2. good embouchure (the less thought about it the better according to Vizzutti)
    3. Hearing the note in your head before playing
    4. Not too much pressure

    That's a general list but here is the one that brings the most confusion:
    5. Support the airflow.
    Now forget controlling the's involuntary we all know this. I have mainly read that it is abdominals that provide breath support for the high notes BUT many people say that you shouldn't actively contract the abs but instead you should just blow harder whilst staying relaxed and the body will naturally do what's best.

    BUT then I have read this from hardenberger who clearly knows what he's talking about: "On breath support, Hardenberger warned Osborne and us against getting all the support knotted up too high in the body, which he feels leads to tension and a strangling of the tone. The support must be moved lower - about one inch below the navel is the crucial point, the strongest point, he tells us, in the body."

    Now how does everyone interpret this? Just tense this low down point below the navel? Something else?

    Please may someone help me with this issue. I desperately need help. Any opinions on the subject would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
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    Jul 2009

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    Seek a Clark Terry's video doing "Ha! Ha!" in youtube. :)
    Everytime I think about breath support, I think of him doing "Ha!" and I'm OK.

  3. #3
    Moderator Utimate User Vulgano Brother's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Parts Unknown

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    Welcome to TM, robtrumpet!

    Support is, I believe, a bad term, over-used and in general misunderstood. Therefore a repeat of the RAY OF POWER mini-sermon.

    The finicky thing about air is that, yeah, we must learn the mechanics but then forget about them, because under the stress of performance, as tension sets in, our bodies will lie to us, and it will feel like we're moving huge amounts of air, breathing deeply and supporting when in fact, we are not!

    For this reason, I rely on some Vulgano Voodoo and the RAY OF POWER. It involves the Root Chakra, which is located directly at the base of the spine, also known as the coccyx. The chakras have their own mystic qualities, I guess. I don't know for sure, but they do seem to be located in parts of the body where bunches of nerves meet. (The Vulgano version is situated half way between the places we do our number one and number two in the restroom.)

    In practice and in theory, imagine (and feel) a ray of some sort (red is the most common mystic color associated with the root chakra) shooting down into the ground while playing. For high notes, imagine (and feel) a more intense ray. If we practice this sitting in a chair, we can notice all kinds of muscles come into play, which happen to be the same muscles used to "support" the air stream.

    By taking attention off of the mechanics and experiencing the mysterious, magical and not yet patented RAY OF POWER we can avoid some of the tension involved in "trying hard."

    Nothing mysterious and magical here really, but the RAY OF POWER does permit me to play with a relaxed but working body.

    Hope this helps!
    "A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
    C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength

  4. #4
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    Clarksburg, WV

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    "On breath support, Hardenberger warned Osborne and us against getting all the support knotted up too high in the body, which he feels leads to tension and a strangling of the tone.
    My experience with this is phenomenon(if I'm interpreting it correctly) is when the person keeps lifting their shoulders when they inhale and after a couple three inhales, the chest looks raised and inflated.
    One way around this is to imagine a tennis ball sized hole in the small of your back. When you inhale, imagine the air coming in the hole. This generally causes the belt buckle area of the stomach to go out. This method has helped a lot of people with too much tension in the upper chest.
    Another method which can do away with this tension in the upper chest is called the circle of breath advocated by Rowuk.

  5. #5
    Forte User Ed Kennedy's Avatar
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    Nov 2006

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    The point below the navel is well known in martial arts: tantien in Chinese, tanjen in Korean. It is considered the balance point of the body and the seat of strength. the kiap or "karate yell" should originate from there. Subtle energy (ki, chi, prana) is stored there. The arts of Tai Chi and Chi Gung focus on developing Chi for health and strength. I see no reason why you couldn't apply this knowledge to trumpet playing.

  6. #6
    Pianissimo User tptshark's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Hong Kong

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    I find the idea of "gripping" the air rather than supporting the air to be easier to grasp conceptually - something Bud Brisbois talks about in his Trumpet Today method.

    - Adrian
    Adrian Kelly
    t/wb: @AdrianTpt
    fb: Adrian Kelly

    Adrian is an endorsing artist for the Conn-Selmer company, and performs on Vincent Bach instruments. Adrian performs on mouthpieces by Stork Custom.

    Adrian's latest CD "Chinese Whispers 細語" is available now from

  7. #7
    Forte User Al Innella's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Levittown , NY

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    If you can yell real loud across the street at your friend, you are breathing correctly , the mechanics are the same ,place your hand on your abdomen , take a quick breath and yell, you should feel all your muscles working together to produce an explosion of sound, now apply this feel to the trumpet, you will find it doesn't take as much air as you thought to play the trumpet. Most players run into trouble when they try to take in too much air[headaches,blackouts] ,deep breathing means to fill with air from the bottom up.

  8. #8
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    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Innella View Post
    If you can yell real loud across the street at your friend, you are breathing correctly...

    I like that one Al.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2008

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    I like this video on breath support. If I could just play like Manley I'd be all set:

    [ame=]YouTube - Jim Manley - Approach to Air & Airmen of Note trumpets[/ame]

  10. #10
    Moderator Utimate User rowuk's Avatar
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    Jun 2006

    Re: The so called "Breathe Support"

    if you are 18 and your range is not good, obviously something is not right. I am pretty sure that the internet will NOT solve your problem. Most of the advice is sound but without someone working with you one on one, nobody can know what you are doing wrong now.

    Breath support is a VERY big part of our playing, next to body use and good practice habits. One without the others offers little hope for getting better.

    Find a local player that can help you. There really is not a better way.
    Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

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