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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000074.txt from 2001/05

From: Eric Mumpower <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Circular Breathing
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 22:30:40 -0400

> with circular breathing, you use air in your oral cavity to continue the
> sound (by using the cheek muscles?) whilst you take a breath of fresh air.
> Is this so?

That's how I was taught to do it. Generally, I puff out my cheeks right
before closing off the back of my mouth from the rest of my throat.

The trick I was given which let me finally start to get the hang of circular
breathing was to try it on something which requires very little air, like a
soda straw pinched between the fingers. (The more air required by an
"instrument", the harder it is to coordinate everything fast enough to
circular-breathe successfully.) Then, gradually work your way up to things
which require more/faster air, like clarinet, then bass clarinet, then
contrabass clarinet. ;-) And eventually Digeridoo. =)

I still haven't gotten the hang of the dige', but I can circular-breathe
fairly well with long tones on the soprano clarinet and reasonably well on
the bass. I find circular-breathing on the recorder is much much harder, as
the recorder offers virtually no air resistance, yet demands a very
precisely controlled flow of air. (The natural air resistance of the
clarinet reed makes it relatively easy.)

> If so, it may be that the support your cheeks can give is not
> enough to vibrate the reed other than in the range you are able to circular
> breath.

I find that this is part of the problem, but that another part of the
problem is that the act of circular breathing makes you adjust the
configuration of your mouth and tongue. And I find that the arrangement of
my tongue (and palate) are subtle yet important factors in playing the notes
I wish to play.

Honestly, I'm not yet sure of the solution to this. I'm still learning, too.

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