Trumpet Discussion Discuss Tight abs? in the General forums; Hi Manny, I know one of the things you're hot on is keeping the abs relaxed, and I'm suffering from ...
Mezzo Forte User
Hi Manny, I know one of the things you're hot on is keeping the abs relaxed, and I'm suffering from chronically tight abs at the moment!
I haven't been doing sit ups or anything like that, but I'm almost getting cramps there during the day, and of course when I come to play it's causing all kinds of problems (not least with breathing).
I think it may have started as a result of some meds I was on, but I've stopped taking them now and still can't seem to shake it. Got any exercises or something that might help loosen them up?
(I've been doing deep breathing exercises and can actually feel the muscles stopping me getting a full relaxed breath - so no wonder it's messing my playing around)
Any comments appreciated, anyway!
Jack, I'm not Manny (obviously) but I hope he'll forgive me for stepping in here. About a year ago I was at a workshop given by a D.M. (a fellow named Dr. Ed Lewis from the University of Regina in Saskatchewan) who had written his thesis on the physiology of trumpet playing. Essentially he had set up a horrendously difficult set of playing exercises which he then "administered" to a number of the top flight players including Jon Faddis and Wynton Marsallis (and, of course, others). He wanted to find out what characteristics they might have in common that aided them in playing "long and high". These exercises involved playing non-stop for up to an hour.
One of the things he observed was their posture when playing seated: they universally sat upright (we all know about that!) and feet planted firmly on the floor with their thighs spread apart at about 65 degrees. They breathed "into their bellies" and this position allowed them to "lower their gut" to make room for the diaphragm to "pull down" (the only thing a diaphragm really does... pull, not push) and their lungs to hold more air. In this way they both maximized their capacity AND reduced tension in both inhalation and exhalation.
He said "think about breathing with your gut and fill "from the bottom up", not your chest".
I don't know if this is what you are referring to but saw your post and thought I'd throw it in.
Okay you, drop your trousers...
and have a seat on a chair where your feet touch the floor easily and completely. Slightly tuck your chin down a bit and keep your eyes up so you're not staring at the floor but looking straight ahead. Breathe gently through your nostrils and pretend you're still wearing a belt. Breathe so that you fill that belt. Your chest will expand nicely and naturally. Exhale when you feel that relaxed sense of fullness. Go back and forth gently like this and notice that you are expanding a bit more with each repetiiton.
Repeat the same process but now with the normal open mouth we use when we 're inhaling to play. It's all about the gentleness and fullness at the same time. You may be rushing things a bit and I'm thinking you need to calm it all down a bit yet still get a full breath.
Now go put your trousers back on, you look ridiculous.
Mezzo Piano User
In addition to Manny’s suggestions, have you ever considered using a Breathing Bag?
My instructor was travelling to Chicago to study with Arnold Jacobs, and I ended up with the full regalia of breathing devices to help me with the tension that had developed in my breathing mechanism over the years. While I found benefit in all of these different devices, I found the breathing bag to be the most helpful for me.
There would be the build up of daily tension while I was at work, and I found that when I would start to practice in the evening this accumulated tension would not let me breathe easily. Using the breathing bag for 1-2 minutes before even picking up the horn would allow me to get my breathing mechanism going as well as helping the daily tension to melt away. It is really quite remarkable what happens when you take complete, full breaths for 2 minutes (you can only do this with the bag so you don’t hyperventilate).
Breathe in exactly the way the Manny describes, but use the bag so that you’re breathing back in your own air. I’ve been using a bag every day for well over 10 years now, and I very rarely have any tension that I can’t release by breathing for 2 minutes in this way.
Hope this helps.
Mezzo Forte User
Ed, Manny, Derek: thanks!
The breathing bag sounds interesting, can you use any old bag roughly that size?
Manny: I think you're right about my rushing things. That exercise reminds me of some Alexander technique stuff I used to do, and it's very helpful, thank you.
Ed: very interesting. Again, very helpful.
This place is great!
I've been using a homemade breathing bag for years. Just get a piece of PVC pipe about 4 inches long with a diameter that will fit comfortably between your teeth and attach a plastic grocery bag to one end with a rubber band. Works fine for me.
Originally Posted by JackD
" . . . it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read."
Mezzo Piano User
You might find the Breathing Gym by Sam Pilafian a big help!
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