Monday, October 13, 2008

Breathing for Us Dummies

Brass playing, what a profession! We spend six years of college or more learning how to put air through a piece of metal. Basically we are all just wind machines. Some blow hard, some soft, and some seek to blow the house down. And there are huffers, and there are puffers. There are squeezers and there are pinchers. There are sprayers, and there are flinchers. Sometimes we blow hard, and sometimes we can actually blow soft! We come in countless varieties and shapes, but we all share our dependency on air.

Before we can establish a reputation for a great exhale, we must learn to be comfortable with a great inhale. The exhale is going to be crucial, for hopefully it will carry a great cargo of musical goods. No one likes to see or hear them crash and burn, so fuel up well. Because the journey is usually longer than expected, the inhale will have to at least match the volume of the exhale, ie. enough fuel to get to your destination.

Assignment: No horn, no mouthpiece. Just get used to large intakes followed by fabulous exhales. Think of the music that will be supported by your awesome exhaling!

Four exercises: 1-fast intake, slow release. 2-slow intake, fast release. 3-fast intake, fast release. 4-slow intake, slow release.

Observation: Most embouchure problems suffer from a lack of enough air, rarely an over abundance. Simply, the lips become oxygen-starved. The cure is cheap! Let us not forget the key ingredient of our existence. It's O.K. to be an air-head!

1 comment:

Rona said...

Hi Phil,

I just love your blog! I wish all my old trumpet teachers had such a fantastic one like yours (or even had one, really...)! It's like an extra lesson every week. :-)

I studied with Vince Cichowicz at Northwestern for grad school many, many moons ago and have been teaching his style ever since. His big thing is air and breath. One thing that I think works so well for teaching to breathe correctly is the yawn. The yawn the most perfect, largest and relaxed air intake and then say "two" to release. Works every time.

Happy Practicing!

Rona Sass