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 Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2005-08-07 17:29

Hi BB Seniors (I know there are a lot of us out there),

I have noticed over the past several years that I have lost the ability to sustain long breaths/phrases. Although I have not smoked in over 25 years, have I lost lung capacity? Have others noticed the same thing as they grow older?

During some solo work this AM in church with accompaniment, I noticed that my comfortable phrase length decreases more while standing. However, when I am seated, there is not as much of a problem and I can play much longer phrases. OK, I'm not the lean and mean guy I once was but should I plan on doing more seating while soloing (seems pretty much NOT the thing that is acceptable). On playing gigs, I always stand and just sit on my drummer's/saxophonist's throne when the keyboard guy plays his choruses.

HRL

PS I'm 67 and in pretty good shape. I can still hit the golf ball a long way and still give my sons much needed regular thrashings on the course.



Post Edited (2005-08-07 20:02)

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2005-08-07 17:59

Re: your PS, Hank - Being your age + 19 yaars, I still I think [delusion perhaps] that I'm in "fair shape", phys. and ment. Playing bass cl in comm band, 3-4 measures of sustained whole notes, medium tempo, is about my breath limit any more, it does vary with volume level. Thats sitting down of course, the only standing playing on sop cl recently was in church [solo], and I didn't play well for the 1st 8-16 bars, I blamed that on nerves AND breath control. I do get somewhat "winded" on stairs. Will be interesting what other "nice oldt folk" have to say. Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: BobD 
Date:   2005-08-07 19:24

Hank, when you stand some of your stomach muscles are used to maintain this position. When you are sitting your stomach muscles can relax and assist in allowing your diaphragm and lungs to operate. I'm inclined to think that my lung capacity has not decreased with age......nor has my waistline.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: hans 
Date:   2005-08-07 19:30

Hank,

Thirty years ago my lungs were tested and my capacity was >130% of normal then. A few years age, it was about 100%. I have never smoked (except for a few months in 1965 when I tried those little rum flavoured cigars), and I'll be 60 at the end of this month. But, I have had pneumonia in between the tests which caused a small amount of lung scarring.

I believe that some loss of lung capacity as we age is normal but, since the data were adjusted for age to begin with, it would appear that I have lost more than normal. I don't know what the reproducibility of the test is,
but > 30% probably exceeds it. The MD who debriefed me after the last test saw nothing to be concerned about, and the tenor sax is the only instrument that sometimes makes me wish for bigger lungs.
__________________________________________________________

Don,

You are an inspiration for those of fewer years.

Regards,
Hans

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: diz 
Date:   2005-08-08 01:28

Whilst on the topic of seniors (I nearly qualify) here are some interesting rewordings of populars songs you we baby boomers love:

Herman's Hermits - Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Walker

The Bee Gees - How Can You Mend a Broken Hip

Bobby Darin - Splish, Splash, I Was Havin' a Flash

Ringo Starr - I Get By With a Little Help from Depends

Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face

Johnny Nash - I Can't See Clearly Now

Paul Simon - Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver

Commodores - Once, Twice, Three Times to the Bathroom

Marvin Gaye - I Heard it Through the GrapeNuts

Procol Harem - A Whiter Shade of Hair

Leo Sayer - You Make Me Feel Like Napping

Temptations - Papa's Got a Kidney Stone

Abba - Denture Queen

Tony Orlando - Knock 3 Times on the Ceiling if you Hear Me Fall

Helen Reddy - I am Woman, Hear me Snore

Willie Nelson - On the Throne Again

Without music, the world would be grey, very grey.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Buster Brown 
Date:   2005-08-08 11:42

Hank, I'm about the same as Hans. Lung capacity has decreased from 130 to about 105 now (I'm 68). These tests done both sitting and standing on two different pieces of equipment. Essentially no difference in all test. Incidentally, I never smoked.

What I have to do now to play the longer passages is remember to take a really good big breath. If I take one of those puny, suck in in the corners of the mouth I don't make it. I have found one thing, the more I play the better my capacity seems to get.

Hit them long and straight. I wish I could say I hit them as far as I used to, but I can't. It just seems that way because I don't see as well as I used to. Getting old can be irritating at times. If you make it to Pinehurst sometimes, let me know. Maybe we can play a round on #2. It "ate me up" on Friday.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2005-08-08 11:57

Hi Fellow Seniors,

Thanks for the great advice and it looks like I am not alone out here in OH (I would rather be in Pinehurst playing with Bob though). It appears that what I am experiencing is pretty much to be expected and then dealt with as a part of the aging process. I am also dealing with OA with bone-on-bone in the left knee but the Hyalgan injections seem to be working (no more marching band for me, though).

I am pretty convinced that having any tests done will only confirm what you have already told me. Taking the rather large breaths like Bob has sugegsted is probably one of the best things to do.

Don, as Hans said, you are an inspiration to all of us youngsters.

HRL

PS Might one of the "younger" MDs on the BB be so kind as to comment?

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: ohsuzan 
Date:   2005-08-08 11:59

Hi Guys --

And it *is* GUYS who have responded to this question, isn't it?

Are there no other "chronologically gifted" females here?

As far as my wind power, I haven't noticed much difference. I think I am playing better than ever. (Knock on wood -- I am doing a recital next Sunday).

But as far as my ability to cope with the weight of the clarinet, I had enough trouble that I decided to switch to oboe, taking the burden off my right thumb and fulfilling a lifelong dream at the same time.

I don't recall the weight of the instrument ever coming close to being an issue in my salad days. Of course, in those days, I wasn't holding an R-13, which is built like a tank.

Loved the list, Diz.

Susan

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Alseg 
Date:   2005-08-08 12:23

Does 57 qualify as a "younger" MD?
No.
Good, then I will not comment. Too tired.
BTW what was the question?
Damn trifocals...


Former creator of CUSTOM CLARINET TUNING BARRELS by DR. ALLAN SEGAL
-Where the Sound Matters Most(tm)-





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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Alseg 
Date:   2005-08-08 13:40

http://www.asahq.org/clinical/geriatrics/aging.htm

Hope this helps.


Former creator of CUSTOM CLARINET TUNING BARRELS by DR. ALLAN SEGAL
-Where the Sound Matters Most(tm)-





Post Edited (2005-08-08 13:41)

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: rc_clarinetlady 
Date:   2005-08-08 14:35

I probably don't quite qualify as a senior yet but I am a female and have had some trouble with the "enough wind" issue. I have asthma that never bothered me with my clarinet playing before now but in the past two years it has become a real problem. I now keep my inhaler in my pocket during rehearsals and performances, and when the airways get too tight.....two puffs and I can go for hours. The only drawback to using it is the slight tremble it causes in my hands....But I can BREATHE!!

BTW...My father in law was diagnosed with asthma at the age of 78. More and more people are being diagnosed with this disease these days. If you have symptoms at other times such as coughing when you sing, exercise, laugh or go outside in the cold it may warrant a discussion with the doc.

Good health to you and may you have all the wind you need [grin]
Rebecca



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2005-08-08 14:39

TKS, cl f[r]iends, flattery will get you everywhere !! However, I reject the thot of the "sycophantic praise" definition [whatever that is] with y'all. Fine list, Diz, no real old tunes tho, like "Sliver Threads Among the [few]Brown", "Riding off to the Sunrise" [much too early any more], dats'all I can generate this AM. Hans and I have discussed my [mild] AMD, which hasn't so far "hurt" my playing, I'm trying to keep it minimal with those large doses of zinc and C and E. My wife and I discuss things at a somewhat higher volume level! My span of attention sometimes seems to wander. Nevertheless, I subscribe to "consider the alternative". Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: BobD 
Date:   2005-08-08 15:23

Diz.....Fantastic!!! Misunderstood titles and lyrics is one of my great loves. I'll contact you direct for details.

Asthma.....for all we know it's the result of asbestos brake dust inhalation...if it was we'd never know about it.

My wife says I still have plenty of wind.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: BobD 
Date:   2005-08-08 16:00

Hank.....you may have opened up a can of metamucil here. I know that some of us "Elderly Clarinetists" correspond off the board but maybe it should be made official. Anyone who wants to join can simply state his/her age and if their email address is not in their profile make it available to club members. I'm 76 and I know you are a few years older than me.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Bob A 
Date:   2005-08-08 16:47

I'm not too sure there is enough to measure. Lung abcess (removed) due to smoking? Age 79 (80 in Oct. if I make it) with RA. Still noodling when I can. [And needling others when I CAN'T]
Bob A

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Tyler 
Date:   2005-08-08 16:50

Look up breathing exercises on google and search through the first five or six results because they have lots of good exercises, most of which seem to help people of all ages. Although I am a teenager, I must say that after a week of doing simple breathing exercises for 10-15 minutes a day, I can already feel a noticeable difference in my REGULAR breathing, let a lone breath support while playing.

-Tyler

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2005-08-08 17:18

Alseg,

A great reference. Thanks.

The key summation seems to be that "Older subjects are less able to increase and maintain ventilation at high levels than young adults during periods of increased demand for oxygen. Ventilatory muscle fatigue is quite likely to occur early due to the altered physiology of voluntary muscle. It seems reasonable to assume that older patients will develop ventilatory inadequacy earlier for any given ventilatory load."

Draz, it looks like dyslexia has also set in for you. Mickey is correct about your wind!

HRL



Post Edited (2005-08-08 17:50)

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2005-08-08 18:49

diz -

Do yu get Car Talk in 'stralia? Click and Clack read the same list last Saturday, I assume from the same website.

Hank -

At 62, I've also lost some breath capacity. I've found that I can get in more air by expanding my ribs to the sides and back as well as the front when I take a deep breath. I even get a bit hyperventilated.

Arnold Jacobs had only one lung, but could outblow the entire Chicago Symphony brass section. I guess there's hope, particularly if I can find "artistic" places to breathe. As Harry Plunckett Greene said, though, I don't want to breath "the contralto number of times" within a phrase.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: diz 
Date:   2005-08-08 22:09

Ken - things flash around the globe in remarkably quick time now that "the world" is so small

Without music, the world would be grey, very grey.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2005-08-08 23:14

Ken,

You have given me a great lead with the mention of Arnold Jacobs. This website about the use of the Velodyne (about $10 US) is worth viewing.

http://www.windsongpress.com/breathing%20devices/Use_Devices.htm

HRL

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2005-08-08 23:45

'Tis a small world !! Following a 4 + heart bypass surgury at St. John in Tulsa, about a year ago, I was supplied with a Voldyne 5000 breathing excersizer-inhalator, and instructed to use it frequently, which I did for a month or so to recover [improve?] lung capacity. Its a technologically simple device to indicate both lung INTAKE "vacuum" and air volume, with "scales" to urge one to do better. It certainly helped me to clear my lungs from the lengthy operation, and likely to increase my "capacity" for playing several of the cl family. TKS, for the reference, I may start using it again. Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Avie 
Date:   2005-08-11 00:36

I still start breaking down technically when I become aware of running out of air at the early age of 68. If I could only master that (:>) Thanks for the inspiration Don!



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2019-07-21 18:38

Hi All,

Here is an old thread that I want to revive with some more recent posts.

As an octogenarian now, I still do not have the greatest lung power but it is getting better due to the use of a Voldyne and a significant weight loss. My guess is that with a major waist decrease (~6 inches) my diaphragm can expand more and thus take in a better breath. I have also begun to practice the flute a lot more.

So, does anyone have any more recent thoughts about the problem I outlined in my initial post above?

Thanks

HRL



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2019-07-21 20:17

Another octogenarian - After a 26 year professional orchestral career and dropping the clarinet until 2008, and then have been playing community groups since, I haven't noticed any loss of 'wind' playing Bb :=), A few weeks ago, a program including a lot of Eb clarinet came up so I got the Eb playing back to 20+ years ago level and noticed I was putting a lot of extra breath marks in. Maybe I have been lazy about inhaling the large amount of air needed for my Eb?

BTW Dr. Segal, the link;

http://www.asahq.org/clinical/geriatrics/aging.htm

Doesn't work any more. Maybe I need to be a member?



Post Edited (2019-07-21 20:21)

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Bill 
Date:   2019-07-22 00:47

God yes. But I'm not taking care of myself. Too much red wine.

Bill Fogle
Ellsworth, Maine
(formerly Washington, DC)


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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Burt 
Date:   2019-07-22 03:12

That's why I gave up playing bari a few years ago.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-22 03:23

63 - nope!!!


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-22 03:46

Of course Stanley Drucker dldn't retire from the New York Philharmonic until he was 80.....and he's still playing great!


I have had about five straight years of a VERY sedentary lifestyle, and that does affect the longer phrases. I think it is mostly related to basic health. If you feel winded after walking up one flight of stairs it might be time to do something about it (I'm really preaching to myself).





.............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-07-22 08:35

True, saw Drucker at the ClarinetFest in Florida at 88 yrs old I think. He still walks like a teenanger. Just amazing. He might be playing solo recordings at 100.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-07-22 13:58

I wondered if I could ask about what was said above? I notice that two people were measured at 130% of normal lung capacity, and I just wondered if you think that it is usual for woodwind players to have really high lung capacity like that?

I just wondered because I have noticed that several really good clarinet players seem to have very long backs and so probably much more chest capacity in which to do their breathing.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-22 14:43

I personally don't believe that there is much to the idea that some are endowed with oddly large (or small) lung capacity. Lungs are inert sacks anyway. It boils down to how you use all the associated anatomy.



The great Arnold Jacobs (one of the world's greatest tuba players) played the way he did with ONE lung. He had this problem early in his career and made the medical study of the whole breathing process his raison de'tre. I would highly recommend getting a copy of his book, "Song and Wind." He synopsizes his years of study and teaching breathing in his book.







.............Paul Aviles



Post Edited (2019-07-22 14:44)

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2019-07-22 17:09

Thanks, that sounds great. I'll see if I can find a copy.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2019-07-22 19:12

Here's a thought for all you dinosaurs out there. Try playing on softer reeds. I'm 68 and can still get by quite nicely on a slightly lighter setup. I actually never used super-hard reeds, even in my prime, but nowadays, I tend to play on a less resistant setup and as a result, have no difficulty sustaining phrases. Has my lung capacity decreased? Perhaps. But adjusting the reed strength means I don't really perceive much of a difference.



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-22 19:49

Well the lighter set-up certainly a great suggestion pretty much for most of us, and helps with making the embouchure less taxing. The really resonant clarinet sound is dependent on the pressure differential between the standing air column in the inside of the horn (0) and the pressure in your oral cavity. That does create effort from abdominal muscles even in between notes (when you're not even making a sound) so you can't get around that. And the mid-section is where you really feel it when you walk up a flight of stairs.




............Paul Aviles



Post Edited (2019-07-22 22:19)

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: jack 
Date:   2019-07-23 02:44

The crazy thing is that Mr. Drucker is a heavy smoker.

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-23 04:20

I think that Mr. Drucker smokes cigars. I don't know much about the technical aspects of that (inhaling, not inhaling, nicotine content etc.) but I think there are a lot of older cigar smokers who are not ravaged by lung cancer the way cigarette smokers are.


This is not an endorsement of cigar smoking, just an observation.





...............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: hans 
Date:   2019-07-23 07:03

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cigars-fact-sheet

FWIW, my grandfather smoked cigars and died at 72 of pancreatic cancer, one of the many results of cigar smoking listed at the link above.

Hans

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2019-07-23 16:10

Hi All,

While it may be of interest to some to learn that Stanley Drucker smoked cigars, I still would like to hear answers to my original questions which were:

"Although I have not smoked in over 25 years, have I lost lung capacity? Have others noticed the same thing as they grow older?"

HRL

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Globus 
Date:   2019-07-23 18:52

You can conclude, Mr. Lehrer, that the failure to answer your question by the seniors reading this bulletin board demonstrates a decline in mental acuity as opposed to a decrease in lung capacity.

Now, what was your question again?

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-07-23 19:45

Ha......that's sooooo funny........and true.



But Hank, the answer is that your lungs are just inert sacks of flesh. The only way to lose capacity of the sack would be some disease. It is the OTHER associated mechanisms that cause our loss such as under use of the abdominal muscles. Of course there are MANY reasons why we get less oxygen processing than we'd like. Putting on more weight (caused by less desire to move, joint pain etc) means that are heart is required to provide more oxygen to more of us (a high resting heart rate will expose this issue).


So if your doctor says you're otherwise in really good shape, it is nothing that diet and exercise cannot turn around. I recall seeing some documentary on the members of the Philadelphia Orchestra some years ago and one of the horn players took up long distance running to improve his playing endurance. Not only did it perk up his playing but he became "one of those" obsessed with marathons.




................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Brenda Siewert 
Date:   2019-07-27 23:32

I'm not like Dr. Segal and others who know about the medical facts, but I know that if I regularly use the lung power I am more likely to continue to have it. When I don't play for a while I need to work at getting it back up to capacity just like my embouchure. I turned 69 this year and people are still asking me to play although I have tried to give it up several times because my biggest enemy is my mental capabilities to transpose in my head....

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: TomS 
Date:   2019-07-30 06:05

If I am alive, I am counting on hearing Stanley Drucker's 100th birthday recital!

At almost 67, my lungs are similar to when I was in my 20s (don't smoke or drink) ... but, I manage my air better now and breath in the correct places and use an easier setup without biting. Therefore, I actually have less problems playing long passages even more powerfully. I recently had a teacher that was surprised that I could play some long-tone warm-ups without passing out or getting dizzy ... as some of her younger students did.

If you are reasonably healthy, old age (65+) doesn't matter that much, your experience and maturity as a player can compensate for slight declines of lung capacity.

Go Stanley!!

Tom

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: JEG 2017
Date:   2019-08-01 20:56

I'm a little late to this party as I'm still working at 69, but today I'm home.

My question to the question is - are we describing lung power only, lung capacity, or both?

I've noticed on and off that my lung capacity seems to be decreasing, only to discover a leak or two in my embouchure. Once I get that straightened out my capacity seems to be back to almost what it was when I was playing baritone saxophone.

As others have described here, exercises can be useful. After all, if you have trouble expanding your chest cavity (please forgive my very general terminology) you won't be able to take deep breaths.

I would think that power is related to capacity but we all have different strength capabilities. In that regard I don't feel any decline as of yet, and I play quite a bit of bass clarinet.

I agree that if you are in good health you should be able to improve your power and capacity

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 Re: Seniors Only: Have you lost lung power?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-08-01 23:56

The way you breath can make a difference too. I always take a full inhalation even if it is just for one note followed by a four measure tacet. So in the context of one phrase leading to another, I exhale whatever is left "in the tank," before taking the next full breath.





..............Paul Aviles



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