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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Breathing

Staying in the Middle Third

Andrew Hitz

This observation by Arnold Jacobs is why I find breathing exercises out of The Breathing Gym so beneficial for students. Getting them to experience the sensation of taking in a large amount of air without having the horn in their hands is invaluable and gives them something concrete to model when they do pick up the instrument.

Doing exercises with long inhales like 6-7-8-9-10 or any variation of In for 8 > Hold for 8 > Out for 8 (also 8>16>8, 12>12>12 or even 16>32>16) are great for feeling the sensation of moving a lot of air.

And as always, Mr. Jacobs was dead on with this observation. So often, mediocre brass players never get close to full and never get close to empty. Getting them to experience this is a great way to encourage them to eventually do it on their own.

The Arnold Jacobs Straw Exercise

Andrew Hitz

This is a great exercise for two reasons:

  1. Students feel the sensation of air movement which is a much better thing to focus on than any body movements or where the air is headed
  2. This lets the student experience firsthand the difference in efficiency when they inhale with a good oral shape

Combine this with the "EE to Oh" exercise out of the brass gym and you can fix a whole lot of breathing issues without ever addressing them. And in teaching, using fewer words means less chance for confusion and getting to the actual doing of the activity being addressed faster.

Collection of Diaphragm Control Exercises

Andrew Hitz

We all want to improve our breathing, both on and off the horn.  After seeing a vocal coach on television tell a singer to "expand your diaphragm out", I decided to do some research.  I have scoured the internet and believe that I have compiled an exhaustive list of every available exercise that will help with controlling the diaphragm.

Here is the complete list of exercises I found:

Which one is your favorite?

Photo  by National Cancer Institute is in the Public Domain

Photo by National Cancer Institute is in the Public Domain

Let Your Skeleton Do The Work

Andrew Hitz

"If you stand or sit in a perfect way your skeleton keeps you up, not your muscles. If you have good posture you allow your body parts to move while you breathe." - Pat Sheridan

It is very important for us to let our skeleton do the work and not our muscles. When we use our muscles it creates tension which leads to hindered breathing and a bad sound.