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 Breathing
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-09-01 01:48

I was wondering if someone can comment or offer some tips on correct breathing technique. I know very little about it but believe it important.
My idea has been to breathe with diaphragm by letting stomach instead of chest expand though I have seen no instruction on how. I try to expend most all my breathe then take a quick deep breath through mouth or maybe nose because I read when you take small breaths frequently you build up carbon dioxide and get short of breath. Better to get a lot of it out then replenish so more oxygen. I would like to read some rules, descriptions, and techniques of correct breathing if anyone could offer such. Thanks.

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-01 02:04

Good start here - ask more specific questions if these are not clear.

https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+diaphragmatic+breathing&oq=how+to+diaphraghm&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.14925j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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 Re: Breathing
Author: SymphonyofMajesty 
Date:   2018-09-01 02:50

Some general tips for breathing is to lift your feet off the floor when you play for a moment. Your abdomen will tighten. This is how it should feel when you play in order to have good air support. Also, make sure you have good posture and you do not want so long to breathe that your embrochure loosens

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-01 03:29

As you chug along playing and taking breaths, I would recommend just breathing through your mouth. That is the best way to get air in efficiently and quickly.


Also, for me, I recommend that any inhale must start by exhaling what air you have left. This way there is NEVER any build up of carbon dioxide and there is NEVER any guess work about whether you have enough air for a given length of music.......the air is always there.





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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-09-01 05:04

If you just sit (no clarinet) and breathe comfortably, what moves? Does your chest heave up and down? Your abdomen? Try it lying on your back. Don't try to breathe one way or another. Just relax and breathe. Try to yawn. What expands?

Chances are that your chest isn't moving so much in any of these experiments. Just breathe normally. Don't try to do anything in particular. Your diaphragm will drop as it flexes and air will rush in to fill the expanded space. To get exaggerated chest expansion, I suspect you'd need to make a deliberate effort.

CO2 build-up is a real thing *if* you're constantly topping off the air in your lungs and not exchanging it all for fresh air. So, you may be best off if you only take in as much air as you need for the phrase you're about to play. If you have time, by all means exhale before you inhale a new lungful of air. But not being stuck with a lot of unexpended air is also a useful approach.

Breathing through your nose has two drawbacks - your nostrils provide a smaller aperture to take air in and there's more likelihood of mucous blocking the passage further. Nasal breaths can be noisier. Still, sometimes you can get just enough extra air with a quick nasal breath to make an extra few notes without upsetting your embouchure in the process.

No rules, just some common sense.

Karl

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 Re: Breathing
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-09-01 06:21

Paul: I meant the air is used up then I breathe, not that I exhale then breathe. The air is used up in playing, in other words, but not in exhaling first. I am sorry for the confusion if I misstated this. And I usually breathe in through mouth, play until almost gone, then exhale through mouth. I had read that some people take a lot of little breaths before using up what is left and it led to shortness of breath. That was the reason I asked. Just want to be sure I am doing it according to what more knowledgeable and experienced players feel is correct.

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-01 07:47

No confusion from your description........all good.


I want to differentiate from what KDK suggests above (also used by a lot of players.....just not me). It is I who suggests that taking a breath is a TWO step process. What I do is very quickly exhale, and then immediately inhale at just about every breath. You can do this after two notes, two measures or even close to the end of a tank. The beauty of this method is that it doesn't matter how long you think you need to have a breath, just dummy up and breath full all the time. Well, that's just a suggestion.





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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Anonymoose 
Date:   2018-09-01 19:29

I too have some questions on breathing, if it is alright for me to hi-jack someone else's post.

I find breathing down to the belly difficult, if not painful. Whenever I try to breathe deep and down, I can maybe get a small amount of air. When I try to breathe and expand more, it kind of hurts my abdomen. Any suggestions?


SymphonyofMajesty,
I have come across that during my practice (lifting my legs while sitting down to feel the abdomen tense), and I find that it works quite well. However, when I put my legs down, I can't seem to find the correct abdominal muscles to tighten the same way.

Plus, are we supposed to tense the abdomen, then breathe deep, or breathe deep first then tense?

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-01 20:00

It may be unused muscles, or a medical condition. I was taught to inhale until it hurts - and for me I feel it in my back muscles.

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Anonymoose 
Date:   2018-09-01 22:37

How long would it take to build up these unused muscles? Are there any exercises I can do to support better with/without the clarinet?

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-02 03:15




"Anonymous,"




I am just wondering.......


Are you having any breathing issues separate from the clarinet, such as walking up stairs or jogging?


And......I would say that the engagement of abdominal muscles is a "posture" that you take once you begin playing, kinda like setting the embouchure. Both relax during those ten bar (for example) rests.





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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: BGBG 
Date:   2018-09-02 03:56

To 'Anonymoose' : Hijackers welcome. Be my guest.

Edited ..... ANONYMOOSE: I am sorry- I misread it.



Post Edited (2018-09-02 06:30)

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Anonymoose 
Date:   2018-09-02 04:13

Paul Aviles,

No, I don't have any breathing issues separate from the clarinet. I am not particularly active either, if that makes a difference.

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 Re: Breathing
Author: eac 2017
Date:   2018-09-02 04:55

Google “breathing gym.” Brass players developed these books DVDs and videos.

Liz Leckey

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-02 05:11

I would say that there should be NO straining associated with breathing at all. If you are experiencing pain, don't do whatever you are doing to cause that pain.


I may have referred to "engaging abdominal muscles" in the past but that is only to say that you should actively push air out. Exhaling must be done "actively." But NEVER to the point of pain or discomfort.



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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: YT 
Date:   2018-09-02 14:48

Paul Aviles:
"As you chug along playing and taking breaths, I would recommend just breathing through your mouth. That is the best way to get air in efficiently and quickly.


Also, for me, I recommend that any inhale must start by exhaling what air you have left."

I agree very much on the part with the exhale, but definitely not with breathing just through the mouth. When breathing exclusively through the mouth, the body gets stressed instantly as the body normally only breathes exclusively through the mouth in stressful situations (e.g. running away from dangerous animals, an example from the evolution). Breathing exclusively through the mouth is not only stressful but also fatiguing. So I practised to breath either only through the nose, or, when I don't have time to do so, breath though nose and mouth simultaneously.
Paul Aviles wrote:

> I would say that there should be NO straining associated with
> breathing at all. If you are experiencing pain, don't do
> whatever you are doing to cause that pain.
>
>
> I may have referred to "engaging abdominal muscles" in the
> past but that is only to say that you should actively push air
> out. Exhaling must be done "actively." But NEVER to the point
> of pain or discomfort.
>
>
>
> ............Paul Aviles.
>

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-09-02 23:55

< My idea has been to breathe with diaphragm >

Most people have no idea where the diaphragm is located. Mainly students. Unless you go to medical school or something. Where is it located? How big is it? Where is connected to? So few people really know. It's pretty much just a muscle. How big is it? I hate this when teachers say to breathe this way.

I think the best way to teach this is buy a few balloons. They will be stiff at first, but once the balloons get blown up a few times they expand without much trouble and little effort. Then feel what's going on with your body. Do this for about a week and it should take care of any of your questions. If the balloons are too stiff put them under water hose or something to ease the pressure. Let the water fill the balloon a few times, this should fix any changes of not being able to blow up the balloon.


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


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Breathing
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-03 00:15

I was taught that the diaphragm was an inverted bowl shaped muscle above the intestines and below the lungs. See any picture of lungs and there is a cavity below for the intestines, The diaphragm fits between them. Since the only thing a muscle can do is contract, when it contracts it flattens like a plate and pulls the air down and pushes the intestines down. Since the backbone is in the way and the ribs are on the sides, the only place for the intestines to go is forward. Thus it looks like you are inhaling air into the stomach. Other benefits to this kind of breathing are, all the muscle work is down in the stomach area, not up at the throat area helping the throat to be more relaxed. Also the lungs can expand more because the ribs restrict the expansion above the rib line.

I good flute player also suggested a good air test. Place an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper on a very flat wall and with head 12 inches away. blow the paper so it doesn't fall.

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 Re: Breathing
Author: DougR 
Date:   2018-09-03 18:46

This is a great thread! I routinely have to remind myself to take full, rather than partial, breaths when I play--so I'm constantly trying to re-train my muscles and also my concept of breathing, to avoid running out of air before the end of the phrase. This is a great thread because it's full of reminders for me of what to do.

First of all, the diaphragm is not a muscle, it is a membrane (similar to the Saran Wrap you put over a bowl of mashed potatoes, or the balloon Bob talks about). It has no muscular function. So you can't 'use' it, because it's not under your conscious control.

What you can use is the musculature of breathing, (the suggestion above of checking Youtube is good; a tuba player named Arnold Jacobs--who only had one lung, imagine playing tuba with only one lung, it's hard enough with 2!!--I think has some material up on breathing. Also trumpeter Jerome Callet addresses breathing pretty thoroughly.)

It's SO easy to over-think this stuff. Youtube videos help.

Yehuda Gilad, the renowned clarinetist/teacher, recommends 'breathing INTO the small of the back.' You take a full breath with this in mind, you notice the belly expands outward, so do the ribs. The shoulders do NOT go up, but the ribs definitely lift and expand outward; the diaphragm, being a membrane, does its thing but you don't control it so it doesn't figure into the equation at all.

To put the stored-up air back into the clarinet, Gilad uses a hollow coffee stirrer, has the student exhale into the coffee stirrer, using some pressure (the clarinet requires pressurized air, unlike say the flute, which requires more gentle exhalation). The muscles that come into play when exhaling pressurized air through a coffee-stirrer, THOSE are the muscles to use when putting the air into the clarinet.

Incidentally, Gilad has a 'play with a pro' lesson on youtube, I'm told it's a very good investment of your time and money. (You can re-view lessons you pay for so it's a good long term investment.)

Anonymoose, when you say 'difficult if not impossible,' are you talking about discomfort? Or rather some more medical issue? I have found that increasing the depth of my breathing over time can cause discomfort at first, but (like using any set of under-used muscles) the discomfort decreases over time, as ability to play longer phrases increases.

(A lot of what I've written has already been said, above, in different ways; but I'm trying to set this stuff down, partly for myself, as clearly and simply as possible; as I say, breathing technique is really easy to over-think. I hope this is useful.)



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-09-03 19:02

What is the Diaphragm?

Google answer;
------------------------
The diaphragm, located below the lungs, is the major muscle of respiration. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle that contracts rhythmically and continually, and most of the time, involuntarily. Upon inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and flattens and the chest cavity enlarges.
------------------------

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-03 20:20

I am all for "visualizations" that help players do the right thing when playing. I also hope that Gilad did not call the diaphragm a membrane. I am pretty sure that Arnold Jacobs did not. Anyone interested in Arnold Jacobs should read his book, "Song and Wind."


https://www.amazon.com/Arnold-Jacobs-Song-Brian-Frederiksen/dp/0965248909/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535991421&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+song+and+wind


And as wind players, we should ALL read "Song and Wind."



That said, I also hope that Gilad at least said what "those muscles" are that can get air through a coffee stirrer. My guess is that he would have mentioned the abdominal muscles.





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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: DougR 
Date:   2018-09-03 20:58

Ken: thanks! I was wrong! (except for the part about 'you can't really USE your diaphragm consciously so don't worry about it, focus on the breathing mechanism you CAN control).

Paul--nope, 'membrane' was all me, and I stand corrected.

I am sure Gilad identified the muscles involved and clearly abdominals figure into it--I saw him demonstrate both these concepts in a master class years ago, and frankly about all I remember about the presentation is what I wrote here (and that filtered through my memory and recalling the parts of his presentation that seemed to apply to me specifically; anytime anyone, including me, makes a claim "Joe Allard said this" or "Yehuda Gilad said that" hopefully the reader is bearing in mind that the poster (e.g. me) could be wrong or mistaken, or mis-stating what they think they heard.)



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-03 23:04



Er.......and when you take a breath, on purpose (say for example, to blow up a balloon or blow through a coffee stirrer), you are using your diaphragm consciously. Of course you need the autonomic nervous system to do its job involuntarily so that you can continue to breath when your sleeping (or just not thinking about breathing), but the voluntary function is used ALL the time.


And if that's not too confusing already, when we end a long note or play an isolated note, or 'huff' (for lack of a better description), we are using our diaphragm and abdominals in opposition (also very important for playing any dynamic on clarinet under triple forte).




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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-09-04 03:53

As I said above even the advanced players and pros aren't totally sure about the functions of the diaphragm! I also like the idea of blowing air to a paper placed on the wall.

So we have a dilemma, which is not the first time! This is a good thread, so back to breathing right. I think you found your answer and the word diaphragm should never be used to teach proper breathing techniques. It's just wrong at so many levels.

You can also go out and run fast for 20 yards. You will be breathing harder than normal. What is going on with your chest cavity? This is pretty much how you want to evaluate breathing when playing the clarinet. Getting that support to help form a great sound.


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


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: Breathing
Author: DougR 
Date:   2018-09-04 04:34

Paul and Ken are absolutely right, as a short trip to Google confirms, which pretty much contradicts what I've been taught about the 'use' of the diaphragm.

All that said, for me (others may differ, of course) it makes sense to think of the constellation of muscles used to take in a deep, full breath in conceptual terms rather than in terms of anatomy/physiology, which is why I like 'Breathe into the small of the back.'

(And putting a special emphasis on the 'diaphragm' to improve breathing makes no sense--to ME--even understanding the physiology, since the diaphragm operates involuntarily most of the time.)

Anyhoo, hopefully the original poster gets something out of all this. I certainly did, and my thanks for the clarity!



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 Re: Breathing
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-09-04 04:53

Back in the days when a teacher's touching a student wasn't an invitation to a lawsuit, Anthony Gigliotti had a very simple way of illustrating what he considered essential breathing technique. With the student standing, he put his fist against the student's abdomen and told the student to push his fist out with the abdominal muscles. He also reversed roles and had the student press into his "stomach" to feel how powerfully his abdominals expanded. I don't remember much if any discussion of the diaphragm or any of the specific muscles that were involved. Just powerful expansion.

The other half of the demonstration had to do with maintaining the expansion as long as possible. The student took a large, powerful breath as above, then read something in a normal voice that was on the music stand for the purpose - a bit of text in Klose or the Declaration on Independence or whatever was around. The goal was to read as long as possible without losing the expansion or tightening the throat, keeping the voice steady. The effect was both to increase breath span and to actually increase the resonance of the student's voice.

All the while there was little if any concern, as much as I remember, for *how* any of this was to be done but, instead *what* was to be done and how it *felt.*

Karl

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-04 07:31



Expansion reminds me of a Marcellus story.


He would tell students to keep the stomach out as you exhale. He wanted to check with Clark Brody on what he did one day and went to Brody's office to ask (both working at Northwestern). "Does your stomach go in or stay out when you exhale?," Marcellus asked. Brody said he wasn't really sure (the intuitive player that he was). Later that day Brody opens the door to Marcellus' office, sticks his head in, says, "Out" and leaves.




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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2018-09-05 15:28

On this 'voluntary/involuntary' diaphragm action thing:

http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/lookup.php/Klarinet/2008/01/000124.txt

On the meaning and use of support:

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=20&i=714&t=714

...with further discussion and misunderstanding, if you can bear it, at:

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=20&i=1132&t=1132

Tony



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-09-05 23:01

Yawn, and put some velocity into it.

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-06 00:25

On YouTube Michael Lowenstern has some practical tips . The video is How To Get a Good Sound . He does show how some players allow articulation to get in the way of a full sound through a phrase, and many other ideas.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2018-09-06 16:12

I think it's worth unpacking Brad's advice 'Yawn, and put some velocity into it' a little bit. He might disagree, preferring to leave it aphoristic, but in my view a small explanation makes a useful connection.

What do you do when you yawn, that is different from just breathing in normally? The answer is, you breathe in against – and therefore overcome – the resistance of your flexed abdominal and back muscles. Those are the muscles that we use together variously to blow, defecate or give birth.

At the end of your yawn, the opposition between diaphragm and abdominal/back muscles that constitutes support is already in place, and can continue as you begin to play.

Notice also that there are different TYPES of yawn, corresponding to different degrees of support. That is, your abdominal/back muscles can be flexed to different degrees as you yawn. You can choose your type of yawn according to what gives the desired playing result as you go on – corresponding to the different degrees of support.

Tony

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-07 21:21

I am the person who Tony Pay alludes to when he uses the words "misunderstandings" and "painful". I don't mind this and was honoured that Tony took the time to discuss this topic of 'support 'with me in a very long BB thread several years ago. However, I am not convinced people understand Tony's thoughts more than I. One aspect I do basically understand is "oppositional forces pertaining to support".
I would like to invite answers from people other than Tony Pay on this matter.
Can you explain 'oppositional forces pertaining to support'?

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-08 07:29



A good example would be an isolated loud note. You need to force out a quick, steady shot of air, and then stop........and not with the tongue. The only way to do this is to have oppositional forces at play. This is kinda like the old 'huffing' technique that used to be a part of birthing classes.


I don't know if we covered this in the past but it's like an isometric exercise. Clasp your hands together in front of you (one palm up and one palm down), then pull to the right with your right hand and pull to the left with your left hand. You feel the strain (or ...... support) in your fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders but nothing is moving. This is what happens between your diaphragm and your abdominals (and intercostals and some back muscles).


For me it is an essential part of achieving a steady stream of air which is in turn essential for that solid, resonant sound at ANY dynamic.


And for the record, Tony's not too fond of me either.





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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-08 08:36

Thanks Paul. I do apologize for my previous post. I did not intend to offend anyone.
I have noted that when I tighten my abs there is a slowing of airflow or diminuendo. I am blowing but at the same time countering that action with another. Obviously blowing your brains out while flexing your abs can’t be a recipe for good Clarinet playing.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2018-09-08 08:38)

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-08 14:36

Actually tightening of the abs should increase air going out. If you just take a big gulp of air and release into the clarinet (doing NOTHING else), the initial sound would be at first loud then quickly diminish as the natural lung/abdominal pressure decreases (same as releasing a balloon you just blew up). So we need to do something to control air flow. When you do yoga, you start with a deep breath and a slow release of air. To achieve that you need to be using conscious control over the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. It should feel pretty much the same as that on clarinet, although maybe just a little more so on average.


But if you want to be accurate about the slowing of the air, it is caused by the diaphragm. Think about it, what is the opposite of blowing out? And what do we use to do that? And that would be the same when just "applying the brakes."


Now go back to our isometric exercise of our clasped hands. If you want a slow, fluid movement from left to right, you are putting more energy into the right arm muscles than the left arm muscles (but still pulling with the left arm muscles). Just substitute "diaphragm" for the left arm muscles and "abdominals" for the right arm muscles. You can easily see that you can keep putting energy into that system and not get any better results (just looking for slow, fluid movement). Point being, the same is true for playing clarinet. Use this "energy" to create a steady, resonant sound but by all means do NOT tense up and create strain to the point of pain as mentioned above. That's counterproductive.




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



Post Edited (2018-09-08 14:38)

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-08 17:15

Thanks Paul, If you breathe in with a belly breath and then tighten your abs you will be holding your breath. The belly stays high. If you don’t flex your abs then the belly with come down naturally and you exhale. If you inhale with a belly breath , flex your abs and then force air out you are using support. The muscles that force air out are the intercostal etc. The oppositional muscles for playing the clarinet are the abs and intercostals. We are actively blowing not just breathing into the clarinet.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:24

Technically speaking you've just about got it. If you've ever seen the high school demo of the bell jar with a membrane substituting for the bottom and two balloons on the inside substituting for lungs. Pulling on the bottom membrane inflates the balloons because the larger volume creates negative pressure. If you hold the membrane, the balloons remain inflated. And the membrane is our friend...the diaphragm. So........it would be the diaphragm you use to hold your breath. Again, the abdominals et al oppose this action (remember, muscles only contract). To do the opposite action of one muscle (like bicept), you need another muscle (tricepts).


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

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-09 19:54

Thanks Paul. My main focus is to look at “forced” expiration not just our normal breathing process which I believe is demonstrated in the bell jar experiment.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-09 20:23

If you fill up and just allow the air to flow while playing a long tone on Clarinet you will likely get 30 seconds of mp sound occurring. This is not forced exhalation. It is just allowing the lungs and diaphragm to return to their pre intake position.
Now we have a starting point. One must be able to play louder, softer and longer than this . How do we do it?
Any thoughts Mr Pay?

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: Breathing
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-09-09 20:34

Now that I am back on a proper computer I can re-visit this properly


......and a diaphragm video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUVMok4Qp-Y


Of course they cover breathing and sort of leave off at that, even with all the initial bits about "training the diaphragm." But that's because the main focus is to illustrate the diaphragm in itself. The relaxation of the diaphragm allows the thorax to naturally come back to its "relaxed", smaller state. BUT, the active art of blowing OUT (and doing that at various speeds) would require another video.



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



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 Re: Breathing
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2018-09-10 19:01

Essentially “air support” is blowing while keeping the diaphragm contracted. We do this by maintaining the apex of inhalation position during exhalation or by gradually delaying the natural relaxation of the diaphragm during exhalation. While blowing we are trying to stay open and big.

Freelance woodwind performer

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