How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

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sirisobhakya
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How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by sirisobhakya » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:58 pm

I have a chance to be an (occasional) assistant instructor (as an alumni) for trombone section of my former school. The band director, who is also my former teacher, has a great breathing and blowing concept, achieving a very large sound with clear core and good projection. The problem is the way he describes it to the student is hard to understand. I remember nodding and agreeing to him while having absolutely no idea back in junior high school years.

I now also have a similar concept, but I describe it differently, however I think it is also difficult to understand for anyone who has no prior knowledge about mechanical or fluid engineering (talking about “efficiency”, “loss”, “turbulence”, “vortex”, and so on and so forth).

So I would like to know how others describe their breathing concept to students (or to other adults). Hopefully it is easier to understand. Any suggestion is appreciated.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:40 am

I think there is a huge disconnect between what the performer's breathing concept is, and what a student will hear.

A student will probably interpret anything he's told about breathing as something physical he must do, and usually that involves muscles he must tighten. Your breathing concept probably involves core and projection which have nothing to do with tightening stomach muscles.

Secondly, many performers who play well and use their breath efficiently have apparently zero knowledge of anatomy and even misplace the diaphragm by a couple of feet. I've been in choirs with nurses and we just try to keep a straight face.

I'm not sure there is a good answer for this one. I would adopt the physician's motto, do no harm.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by boneagain » Sun Jul 01, 2018 7:07 am

timothy42b wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 4:40 am
I think there is a huge disconnect between what the performer's breathing concept is, and what a student will hear.

A student will probably interpret anything he's told about breathing as something physical he must do, and usually that involves muscles he must tighten. Your breathing concept probably involves core and projection which have nothing to do with tightening stomach muscles.

Secondly, many performers who play well and use their breath efficiently have apparently zero knowledge of anatomy and even misplace the diaphragm by a couple of feet. I've been in choirs with nurses and we just try to keep a straight face.

I'm not sure there is a good answer for this one. I would adopt the physician's motto, do no harm.
Your comments remind me of three things that are pretty reliable for getting in the way of understanding:
1) replacing explanation with metaphor;
2) Wittgenstein's ladder (which relates to #1)
3) Antagonism toward technical understanding.

I find #3 most intriguing. Part of that is because there are more than a few folks who will say, "Don't overthink it, just ..." and launch into an involved #1 to explain something which is clearly trombone technique. Another part is that this antagonism often involves tossing out the entire corpus of technical knowledge because one element has been disproven.

I suppose this is part of why #1 is so prevalent. Metaphors cannot be disproven. One of the first rules in teaching these metaphors is to assert that different things work for different folks. Any flaws in the metaphor are neatly wrapped up in rule. I find that unfortunate. I believe metaphors ARE useful; perhaps even crucial. But I do not believe they can REPLACE explanation. A clear technical explanation CAN be disproven, which can then lead to an IMPROVED technical explanation. A truly useful metaphor not only helps the receiver understand the concept at hand, it also prepares the receiver for the technical explanation underlying that metaphor.

Which leads to my favorite of these inhibitors: Wittgenstein's Ladder. In a nutshell, this is use of a ladder of technically incorrect explanations to take a receiver to a given conclusion without the burden of the technically correct explanation. I think of this as the "A Few Good Men" approach to instruction: "You can't handle the truth!" In other words, a few inaccuracies or outright errors are OK as long as the receiver reaches the right conclusion.

When I was a teacher, and interested in "First, do no harm," I felt the starting point was a good technical understanding on MY part. Next, I recognized that trombone pretty much needs to be played based on feeling, not ongoing technical calculation. With solid technical undestanding of the mechanics, I could work with students to derive metaphors that would work for them to achieve the needed mechanical results. Loosely paraphrasing Reinhardt, I'd help them get set up as mechanically well as I was able, then have them take note of how it felt, and build a mental picture that reinforced the feeling. With my technical understanding I could make sure their metaphors did NOT include Wittenstein-type miscues that would impede THEM learning the technical side later.

On my way to technical understandings I collected a LOT of metaphors. The worst were the ones that caused me to need to UNlearn things before I could move forward. I kept track of those and specifically did NOT use those with my students. I also kept track of the more benign ones, even those which did not work for me (I am a mental pack rat.) All of those turned out to be a nice library for matching metaphor to receiver.

I suspect this thread may be a case of attempts to simplify with metaphor getting in the way of technical understanding. To me, "concept" implies some subjectivity. For instance, a "sound concept" is all about the subjective approach to tone quality and production. Breathing is not very subjective. Reading Jacobs, Reinhardt, Farkas, Kleinhammer, excercise physiology literature, and other technical sources clarifies what we can control (things like rib and abdominal muscles) and what we can't (diaphragms, for instance.)

But if the technical aspects of breathing are being rolled into the more complex and subjective topic of "sound concept" we are well onto the rungs of Wittgenstein's Ladder. The technical underpinnings will be obscured right from the start. The two topics are distinct. Sound concept IS dependent on proper breathing.

It is not an easy situation for a young player just starting to teach. I don't think it's a lot easier even for older players. I applaud the OP for bringing up the topic in just the way he did, and having the integrity to thing about what he's showing younger players, and asking for advice. I'll be interested to see how this thread develops.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by Kbiggs » Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:23 am

There are so many different ways, metaphors, etc., to describe “proper” breathing it’s hard to know where to start. Given the ability of students to misunderstand instructions, it’s... again, hard to know where to start. In other words, I appreciate your problem.

Suggestion: keep it simple. Don’t bother students with concepts from fluid dynamics/engineering. Yes, that is what’s happening when people breathe, but they don’t need to know all that to breathe properly. To know HOW to breathe properly, students need to know WHAT to do that will most likely lead to quick, efficient inhalation, and steady exhalation that helps produce an appropriate sound (rich, full, lively, ringing, etc.). They also need to know what to avoid.

Rather than describe it, and to avoid any ptifalls, here’s a couple of resources I’ve found helpful in my personal playing and my limited teaching experience:

David Vining’s “The Breathing Book” is a great place to start. He has accurate explanations and appropriate anatomical pictures describing what goes on with efficient breathing.

“The Breathing Gym” by Patrick Sheridan and Sam Pilafian is a DVD and booklet that demonstrate some excellent breathing exercises to help develop capacity, flow, and awareness.

There are several discussions of breathing in the TTF archives here on the TC website.

I’m sure you’ll get lots of suggestions.
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by Kbiggs » Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:29 am

Thanks for the reference to Wittgentstein’s ladder, boneagain :good: . It’s been a long time since I heard a musician refer to Wittgentstein!
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by boneagain » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:30 am

Kbiggs wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 8:29 am
Thanks for the reference to Wittgentstein’s ladder, boneagain :good: . It’s been a long time since I heard a musician refer to Wittgentstein!
I found Wittgenstein's comment instructive: "Er muss diese Sätze überwinden, dann sieht er die Welt richtig..." Loosely translated as you ultimately come to understanding by overcoming the faulty statements. So he PLANNED on making the effort of providing a faulty simplified instruction, then making the effort of undoing the fault and completing the explanation. Personally, I find a simplified if incomplete metaphor more useful than a faulty one that gets results faster but then must be undone to get past it to the next level.

Thanks for the references you posted. IIRC, all of them avoid providing ultimately troublesome metaphors. And all of them have demonstrated effectiveness with helping people play better.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by blast » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:10 am

Breathe in, blow out.

That's about it.

More might be said in a lesson, but really, how much smoke and mirrors do we need ?

Chris
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by Burgerbob » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:02 pm

Show rather than tell.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:24 pm

blast wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:10 am
Breathe in, blow out.

That's about it.

More might be said in a lesson, but really, how much smoke and mirrors do we need ?

Chris
Well said :good: but to all who think they have a problem with breath in and blow out it can be practiced. As you said it takes a lesson because no student is the same.

It was years since I had students and nowdays I only have one and that is me :D

I use a recorder when I teach myself. To me the recorder is a very important tool. I think it could be used much more in professional teaching. It can be something the teacher and the student can listen to and discuss especially when it comes to breathing and phrasing.

When it comes to breathing and blowing it reveales to me how important it is to breath quick and deep enough and in a way it does not disturb the musical flow. To be economic with the air but still use the air with a good flow needs serious studies and a lot of tactics. Maybe play a little softer on a long note and compensate with a little vibrato can help to strech a phrase sometimes. To seek the maximum sound with a minimum of air to make the air last longer is another concept I use and the result of this can also be checked with the recorder. All this breathing and blowing and tactics needs a lot of practice and the result can be checked with the recorder.

I think it is hard to breath in quick when I have run completely out of air. It creates a tension that prevents the next breath in. This is a problem for me that I'm currently working on. It happens because some phrases are just to long. Sometimes I don't know how to solve it without dividing the phrase. I do my best to mask such breathing and the recorder helps to see how I'm doing. If I run out of air on a longer note I can sometimes under good circumstances use circular breathing to strech the phrase a bit.

How to teach breathing and blowing?

It is a lot to it, and yet it is a very simple thing that any player could do with sucess unconsciously if they are that lucky.

/Tom
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by GabeLangfur » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:07 pm

blast wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:10 am
Breathe in, blow out.

That's about it.

More might be said in a lesson, but really, how much smoke and mirrors do we need ?

Chris
Yes.

I would only add 2 things.

The first should be self-evident but very often isn't: rhythm. Learn to breathe in and blow out in rhythm, without any fuss between them.

The second is metaphor, but it's derived directly from music. Look at string instruments; the string (our lips) is what vibrates; the bow (our air) needs to move AND be in contact with the string in order for it to vibrate. Neither one makes any sound without the other.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by GabeLangfur » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:14 pm

Actually, I'll add one more thing, from a class I attended this week on Body Mapping:

Line up the top of your spine (the middle of your head, in between your ears) with your sit bones. Your spine curves; let it do its thing. If you find yourself doing something else (I am working on getting rid of a habit of bearing down and ducking forward when I go into the low register), the sound and response will suffer. If your body is in good alignment, open, relaxed breathing happens very naturally.

Simple, non-strenuous yoga helps tremendously with this, too; I've stopped doing breathing exercises since I've been doing at least a few minutes of yoga every day.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by Inspector71 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:56 am

Draw air into the mouth from the lips
Blow air out from the lips

I will add that Gabe's posture comments are spot on, IMHO. "The water can't flow if there is a kink in the hose."
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:38 am

I like Dave's contribution and realize now that in my first rant I inadvertently supported #3, antagonism toward technical understanding. That was not my intent.

I do think there does exist some technical knowledge of breathing, but most of what I read is so overladen with metaphor I have trouble finding the essence.

The American Trombone Workshop this past March had a couple of interesting presentations. Andrew Glendenning and James Markey both talked breathing, and said some things I took to be completely opposite. I heard they went to dinner together after the talks, and had some deep discussions.

The one thing they agreed on was that trombone pedagogy seems to contain a fair share of "commonly accepted as true" but never actually investigated "facts," and that we needed better technical understanding.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:10 am

I suspect Dave's #2, Wittgenstein's ladder, may be related to #4, the fractional anticipatory goal response.

I looked for a good wiki explanation of that but found nothing except references to Clark Hull (prominent early behaviorist and researcher into operant conditioning) and his 1934 paper.

So here's my attempt at a description. The final desired behavior is preceded by a number of precursor steps along the way. These smaller steps are just as subject to reinforcement or extinction as the final correct response, but they are less apparent. Teacher reinforcement of these steps occurs, in a somewhat similar manner to how you shape a dog's behavior from simple steps to a complicated task. It may or may not be programmed or even conscious. Break, because there is no controversy up to this point, but now I go beyond.

I think it is likely that some great teaching involves completely unconscious reinforcement of these anticipatory behaviors. The teacher might not even tell the student to align his spine, for example, but as a student makes progress toward doing that, the teacher's body language indicates his approval. One of the reasons this works (like in the W ladder case) is because the student's tone may not improve with a partial step, so the direct reinforcement doesn't yet exist. This also may explain why incorrect explanation sometimes produces results.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by boneagain » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:27 am

timothy42b wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:10 am
... This also may explain why incorrect explanation sometimes produces results.
The unresistable allure of incorrect explanations is that they OFTEN produce at least some desired results. This relates to the old "correlation is not causation" challenge in statistics. Shoes size is not causative for an increase in knowledge. A "kink in the hose" IS causative for poor breathing and poor sound. It is possible to have a really good sound with poor breathing.

That last one is the kicker. Getting that sound without good breathing is taking a wrong turn onto a one-way street. We've all seen and heard "results first" school band programs. The focus is on getting each concert together no matter what effect it has on player development gets two results: an almost listenable program, and a bunch of students with bad habits to unlearn.

This is one reason why I really appreciate the OP bringing up the topic.

John Coffey always said, "Tongue and blow kid; ya follow or not?"

But with cultural norms being SOME kind of belt right in the middle of a good portion of the breathing muscles, the only humans who tend to breath correctly are pre-belt infants and post-infants who have studied yoga or other breathing.

And almost ALL the poor breathing instruction WILL yield some set of results. I knew one VERY accomplished horn player who actually won paying symphony jobs that breathed horribly. How do I know he breathed horribly? Because he gave himself a hernia through the diaphragm with his breathing technique! And he wasn't "just a section player:" he was principal (I won't name the player or orchestra.)

So, yeah, maybe there's a lot to be understood via "#4" :)

Somewhat related were the some studies about the effect of wall color on worker productivity many decades ago. First results were staggering: the color chosen raised productivity tremendously! Then, a second color did the same thing. I think they went back to the original color again... and got an increase in productivity... Something like that... bottom line was, it was NOT the color making the difference; it was the fact that management was doing something for the workers that raised productivity. As soon as management started ignoring the workers again, productivity returned to pre-change levels.

I wonder how much of #4, and some breathing recommendations, result in improvements for similar reasons?
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:55 am

We've told the OP many valid reasons why we can't help him.

On the other hand, there are some things we could say about breathing that would be agreeable to most of us and potentially understandable to a beginner, aren't there?
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by elmsandr » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:44 am

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:55 am
We've told the OP many valid reasons why we can't help him.

On the other hand, there are some things we could say about breathing that would be agreeable to most of us and potentially understandable to a beginner, aren't there?
I think Chris's note and the old "tongue and blow" are both really good starting points. I think that one needs to individually watch students breathe. Often they will focus on moving shoulders or bellies and try to "move" like breathing. As those motions are seen, working with them to understand the basic physiology, i.e. where your lungs actually are and what moves when you breathe. Then work with them to ignore the external functions and just move air through the lips. The best 'breathing' workshop I ever had was watching a discussion between my college teacher, Curtis Olson, and Charlie Vernon. Focusing on breathing in from the lips and blowing out. They got into some weeds about physiology, but kept coming back to the point that the only way it works in performance is to eliminate unnecessary motion.

One little exercise, quite literally, is to make students do a quick little run, a sprint or some other physical activity that forces the body to take deep breaths while not playing. If they are distracted, they will stop thinking about what to move and their body will just breathe to take in oxygen. I've done this in a handful of different manners and the point is to remind students that they know how to breathe, they just need to get out of the way.

Cheers,
Andy
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by blast » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:56 am

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:55 am
We've told the OP many valid reasons why we can't help him.

On the other hand, there are some things we could say about breathing that would be agreeable to most of us and potentially understandable to a beginner, aren't there?
On present evidence, no.

Chris :shuffle:
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by blast » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:01 am

elmsandr wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:44 am
timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:55 am
We've told the OP many valid reasons why we can't help him.

On the other hand, there are some things we could say about breathing that would be agreeable to most of us and potentially understandable to a beginner, aren't there?
I think Chris's note and the old "tongue and blow" are both really good starting points. I think that one needs to individually watch students breathe. Often they will focus on moving shoulders or bellies and try to "move" like breathing. As those motions are seen, working with them to understand the basic physiology, i.e. where your lungs actually are and what moves when you breathe. Then work with them to ignore the external functions and just move air through the lips. The best 'breathing' workshop I ever had was watching a discussion between my college teacher, Curtis Olson, and Charlie Vernon. Focusing on breathing in from the lips and blowing out. They got into some weeds about physiology, but kept coming back to the point that the only way it works in performance is to eliminate unnecessary motion.

One little exercise, quite literally, is to make students do a quick little run, a sprint or some other physical activity that forces the body to take deep breaths while not playing. If they are distracted, they will stop thinking about what to move and their body will just breathe to take in oxygen. I've done this in a handful of different manners and the point is to remind students that they know how to breathe, they just need to get out of the way.

Cheers,
Andy
Your last paragraph is right on the money. Get them to do something that makes them breathe deeply.... get them to be aware of how it feels. The best way.... and the only corrective advice I now give.

Chris
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by boneagain » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:21 am

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:55 am
We've told the OP many valid reasons why we can't help him.

On the other hand, there are some things we could say about breathing that would be agreeable to most of us and potentially understandable to a beginner, aren't there?
The one common model that I've heard (maybe originated with Remington?) that I've never seen cause harm is, "Take a conversational breath." Getting just enough air to play the phrase at hand never seemed to hurt anyone. In contrast, taking in as much air as possible in the vain attempt to improve sound exclusively by using more air, often leads to problems.

The lower you go the worse the "conversational breath" works, but for most playing it has several things going for it:
1) no incorrect metaphors
2) an implicit call for relaxation (we don't get agitated preparing for our part in conversation, do we?)
3) taking on the whole "Goldilocks" (not too much... not too little... just right) in one simple memory hook.

David Vining has some great info on the dangers of overthinking and overstressing on the whole breathing thing. His work is noted earlier in this thread.

The best breathing training I ever got was from an mezzo soprano with the Sao Paulo Municipal Opera. She could fill that hall, all on her own with a full orchestra in the pit. She did not use imagery, though. She gave technical information pretty directly, and used her hands to press the points where students were supposed to focus their attentions.

Of course, this "hands on" approach raises all kinds of flags in a male/female teacher/student situation. But once we get past that, this approach aligns well with the violin teachings of George Bornoff. What you won't find on Wikipedia about Bornoff is that his positions were to be PHYSICALLY reinforced by the teacher ON THE STUDENTS HANDS. In a nutshell, Bornoff demonstrated that a very effective way of teaching muscle memory is to work directly with the muscles involved.

Maybe this is a reason why there are so few good word-pictures to help teach breathing?
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:31 am

I don't see anything in this thread I disagree with, which is pretty rare. <smiley>

Doug told me once that I wasn't taking a full breath, and another time that I needed to avoid playing past the resting neutral point. That resulted in me penciling breath marks into my music and paying more attention to when I would need air.

The point here is that he didn't address it with me until there was something to be fixed.

So what playing symptoms would cause one of you to address air as the problem? Is there such a thing as an unsupported tone, and is it caused by air?

An anecdote: In a choir I sing with, the director told the altos they must "support" more. In response, one of them tightened her stomach muscles, instantly adding a fast narrow tremor to what had been a pleasant tone. Still there, too. That experience is the genesis of my wariness in giving and interpreting breathing advice. That, and the fact that he thought the diaphragm was below the belt line.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:49 am

"Breathing" encompasses so many different things -

Inhaling vs exhaling (as they apply to everything below)
Above the neck vs below the neck vs in the neck
In the mouth
At the embouchure

Some people like to lump everything together as "breathing.". I look at it as a dozen or two different things.

If anything needs to be fixed, work on it specificaly.

Otherwise, if you're alive you know how to breathe.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:35 am

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:31 am
So what playing symptoms would cause one of you to address air as the problem? Is there such a thing as an unsupported tone, and is it caused by air?
I answered that in my previous post (the symptoms for me). It has a lot to do with recognition of the problem using the mic and the recorder. The recorder reveals this.

What I have noticed is what I think is a problem as I'm playing, in my case intonation, is not the problem when I'm listening. The result is frustrating in the beginning but it is not strange. The thing I focus on, intonation is the thing I do better. The things I don't focus on is what is really disappointing in the recording and these things often has to do with phrasing and articulation, which comes from a problem with flow which can be helped by breathing and blowing more efficient.

In my case I think the perfect legato is the key to solve my problem with breathing and blowing and the breathing and blowing is the key to solve the perfect legato. For the past two weeks I have had two good sessions with a good friend, mentor and teacher. He gave me valuable tips on my playing and especially on my legato.

I now experience a revolution as I feel I'm getting closer. All have to do with breathing and blowing. Quick deep breaths, and to find the most economic playing. To seek the maximum sound with the most efficent use of the air. One important thing is to have a good flow combined with a very efficient emboschure. With only 5,5 litres I can not allow myself to be inefficient with air. I also need to plan the music ahead to take breaths and mask breaths and take breaths deep enough.

/Tom
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by blast » Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:58 am

ONLY 5.5 litres !!!!!

Chris
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by shider » Wed Jul 04, 2018 4:19 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:58 am
ONLY 5.5 litres !!!!!

Chris
I think this goes along the line of "bigger is better". At least in theory.

A little side note from my experience:
Last year, while going through cancer treatment i did a test for lung function and they measured i had about 7 litres of lung capacity :amazed: didn't know that before!
After recovery, once the therapy was over i found my breathing (while playing the instrument) had changed drastically to how it was before.
i think this goes back to how during therapy i continued playing, while all aspects of muscular activity were very very weak. As far as my lung/breathing was concerned, i couldn't even really shout at any volume that would be considered as such. I think the added effort i had to do during this time, which resulted in "using what you got", in my case using the whole capacity and not just a fraction of it as i probably had before, made me much more aware of what i was not using before!
Considering how people with much less lung capacity than me can outplay me for days, to me it comes down to efficieny.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:01 am

Doug Elliott wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:49 am
Some people like to lump everything together as "breathing.". I look at it as a dozen or two different things.

If anything needs to be fixed, work on it specificaly.
Breathing and blowing right and efficient is the key that has to work. It is the fundament that everything else comes from.

I do understand the point of putting work into separate parts of a problem to fix the problem/s gradually. This is the way I've been taught and I think it is the method of all good teachers.

Put isolated work into breathing and blowing is a good thing, but how to do this? How to check this? How to improve this as an isolated part of ones playing?

It is first after fixing this that all other things come together and the student can get rewarded with excellent playing. Before a student is strong enough to be able to isolate things he might experience any advice and effort to change as making the playing worse and it is then dfficult for the student to see the progress as a part of a series of isolated steps. To do this each step must be measured and successful. It must be a highly motivated and committed student to get through any serious problem. I remember after a four years without a proper guidance and two more years for a teacher that could not fix my problem I had reached a dead end and when I began studying for my third teacher I had to start all over. It lead to I could not play anything when I switched from a smile embouchure to a puckered embouchure. It was great frustration at the time for me. I could have given in.

If a student has multiple serious issues and the playing is very weak it might be a struggle to have the student isolate on one single thing because the whole playing might fall apart when trying. Tounge might be connected to the lips and blowing connected to the throat, just to name a few. A change somewere leads to changes everywere.

A student with stronger playing on the other hand is better prepared and can therefore isolate and control better. He might get rewarded right away. I think that's why it is easier to be a good successful teacher if students already are good. Strong and talanted students can isolate things easier.

A problem for both kind of students is to make them aware of how they are doing and get them to see they are taking steps in the right direction wherever they start.

It is often a neglected thing in education to train students to teach themself. It was certainty not a part of my education as to be a teacher.

Give the student the best tools to take care of business himself, have them buy a metronome, a tuner and the most important tool, a recorder. Have them start listening to themselfs. When a student starts to do this he will not be as frustrated from a teachers advice. After listening to any recording the words of a good teacher makes so much more sense.

This is how I see it with breathing and blowing and to do this efficient. Everything is connected to it and the key to all learning is for the student to step up and become his own teacher even in this aspect. After beeing self aware the student knows his weakness better and can seek advice from a professional teacher to help point in the right direction. Why not start to tape all lessons. The teacher can make references to what is taped and the student can go back and listen and put work into those specific problems and then make another recording at home and see how they are doing. The professional teacher just assists with ideas.

Thats my "breathing concept" and how I tech myself this. If there are any details they are in my previous posts.

/Tom
Last edited by imsevimse on Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
timothy42b
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:14 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:58 am
ONLY 5.5 litres !!!!!

Chris
When I have my Bod Pod tests done at work, they report my Thoracic Gas Volume as 4.3 liters. That's done during normal breathing.

I don't know how those measurements would compare to spirometer type measurements. At one time I did those every year at work, when I handled hazardous waste and had to be on a respirator program, but that hasn't happened in a couple decades now.
boneagain
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by boneagain » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:24 am

For ballpark comparison of lung capacity, check out the PDF on this page:
https://www.windsongpress.com/vital-capacity/

This is Brian Fredericksen's site. His book and site are both good reads on Arnold Jacobs life and work.
imsevimse
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:52 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:58 am
ONLY 5.5 litres !!!!!

Chris
From the scheme 5,5 litres is apparently good since I'm not a very tall person. But it was my maximum inhale at the time. It was a test I did where I took the deepest breath I could. I'm only 1 m and 72 cm and 55 years of age. It was more than 10 years from now I did that test which means it is less than 5,5 litres today.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
blast
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by blast » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:01 am

My capacity is well down on where it was 40 years ago.... but I can still play a note for longer than most of my pupils.... over the years you gradually learn to make the best of what you've got.

Chris
imsevimse
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:29 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:01 am
My capacity is well down on where it was 40 years ago.... but I can still play a note for longer than most of my pupils.... over the years you gradually learn to make the best of what you've got.

Chris
Efficiently! That's what I'm talking about☺

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
peteedwards
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by peteedwards » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:33 am

blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:01 am
My capacity is well down on where it was 40 years ago.... but I can still play a note for longer than most of my pupils.... over the years you gradually learn to make the best of what you've got.

Chris
Exactly. It is more about efficiency than air flow. The function of air is solely to drive the vibration in your chops. Once it enters the mpc, its usefulness is done. The vibrating air column inside the horn has nothing to do with the speed or volume of the air travelling through it. Through training & experience, you can make your chops vibrate more with less air.
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:56 am

peteedwards wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:33 am
blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:01 am
My capacity is well down on where it was 40 years ago.... but I can still play a note for longer than most of my pupils.... over the years you gradually learn to make the best of what you've got.

Chris
Exactly. It is more about efficiency than air flow. The function of air is solely to drive the vibration in your chops. Once it enters the mpc, its usefulness is done. The vibrating air column inside the horn has nothing to do with the speed or volume of the air travelling through it. Through training & experience, you can make your chops vibrate more with less air.
Yes! :good:

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
baileyman
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by baileyman » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:42 am

imsevimse wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:56 am
peteedwards wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:33 am
blast wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:01 am
My capacity is well down on where it was 40 years ago.... but I can still play a note for longer than most of my pupils.... over the years you gradually learn to make the best of what you've got.

Chris
Exactly. It is more about efficiency than air flow. The function of air is solely to drive the vibration in your chops. Once it enters the mpc, its usefulness is done. The vibrating air column inside the horn has nothing to do with the speed or volume of the air travelling through it. Through training & experience, you can make your chops vibrate more with less air.
Yes! :good:

/Tom
Double yes!

This is what I call the resonance approach to playing. No strength, no "more air", no jaw dropping, no "open throat", no "spine suspended by point on head", etc., etc., just plain old sympathetic vibration everywhere.
timothy42b
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:47 am

Must .........resist.................nope, can't do it.

So how do you teach/describe your "resonance concept?"

(with apologies to the OP)
imsevimse
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:13 am

timothy42b wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:47 am
Must .........resist.................nope, can't do it.

So how do you teach/describe your "resonance concept?"

(with apologies to the OP)
It would be interesting to hear more thoughts on this and how to teach this.

My method to increase resonance and inctease efficiency:

1. Find the mouth cavity that gives the best centered sonorous and widest sound possible. Exactly what and how varies a lot depending on what is played of course.
2. Back of from the mouthpiece and try to use the lightest pressure possible for each situation. In my head this will help to free vibrations, especially if the area in the centre of the lips is free and loose.
3. I visualize the opening between the lips where vibrations is going on to be the smallest possible for the economic maximum sound that each situation clames for. This means I try to drive the air through the smallest hole that still gives a good sound for any given circumstance.
4. I take the deepest possible breaths and try to make the air last as long as possible. It means I use as little air as I can but still with my fullest lungs and best loudest sound and without loosing the good flow. If I think like this I have noticed I can double length of phrases.

All this to me is to play as efficient as possible.

To test how I'm doing I play as soft as I can and the longest phrases I can. In time I notice the soft playing leads to more efficient plaing because I can play longer phrases. It will show because the air will last longer and I can do more with the same air (vibratos and crescendo, diminuebdo) . The sound gets better balanced as well as articulation when I practice like this.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
baileyman
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by baileyman » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:21 am

I put a brief explanation on a different topic:

https://www.trombonechat.com/viewtopic. ... nce#p62905
peteedwards
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by peteedwards » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:23 am

For me, efficiency comes when my chops are in really good shape and when my lip vibration is perfectly in tune with the vibrating air column in the horn.
I warm-ups with long tones, with varying lip vibrato, from none to really wide, to find the "center" of the resonant pitch. This REALLY locks it in for me. Next I do scales in thirds with no toungue, starting on low F ascending, then Gg descending, then G ascending, etc. When I get to Bb I descend 2 octaves. When I get to E I descend 3 octaves, then I continue as high as possible. This is an excellent corner-building and range building exercise I learned from Vern Kagarice. The alternating tension & release action of the thirds combined with the overall up & down of the scales really is a great workout. If I'm doing these every day I'll mix it up doing minor scales, or fourths or whole tones, etc to keep it interesting.
After not playing for a few weeks I can get back in shape really quickly doing these 2 exercises. I really don't think much about breathing at all when I'm playing, I just breathe when necessary, just like life, I guess.
afugate
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by afugate » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:46 am

Off topic... :)

Regarding the question of resonance. I teach kids to make the horn sing by removing the outer slide and having the student buzz the mouthpiece and top tube, blowing until they can feel the horn vibrate in their hands. And then I explain that's a good thing - we want the horn to resonate when we play.

I think this is akin to the approach trumpet teacher, Bill Adams, used with his students.

(Granted, I'm just a rank amateur...)

--Andy in OKC
mrdeacon
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by mrdeacon » Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:59 pm

Andy (afugate) I dig how you've adapted "blowing pipe" for the trombone! I haven't met many other people who do that technique.

I spent a large portion of my undergrad with a teacher who adapted parts of the Bill Adams routine into his own pedagogy and another one who directly studied with Bill Adams at Indiana. The reason Bill Adams did "blowing pipe" was to establish a solid air column before you even pick up the horn and play your first notes.

A huge chunk of Bill Adams is simply about air. Hearing the sound and blowing air... it's that easy!

I really like the idea of establishing your air column before you play because it enables so that even your first note of the day can be beautiful. In a David Childs masterclass I was apart of he talked about how we should strive to make every single note we play beautiful, even our very first notes of the day! So I dig "blowing pipe" a few times before I start my warm up for the day.

So yeah! Very similar as to the idea that you use it!
Conn 8H 2010s, Elliott XT
Rath R1 2010s, Elliott XT
Minick Bass Trombone 1980s, Elliott LB
afugate
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by afugate » Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:23 am

Thanks, @mrdeacon! The "solid air column" makes sense.

It's neat to observe the kids as they go through this process. I generally do this with kids who have a thin, pinched sound. The ones who (I think) are generating all the sound by forcing their lips to buzz. I blow my pipe and let them feel my horn vibrate. Then they do the same with their horn.

The best part is the reactions I see when they put the slide back on and hear their sound... :)

--Andy in OKC
lauriet
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by lauriet » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:22 am

So I am a newby....I've been learning for about 9 months.
This is what helps me:

The lips buzz and the horn amplify this.
The air causes the lips to buzz. I think about blowing through a straw, and feeling my lips vibrate.

Laurie
afugate
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by afugate » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:32 am

lauriet wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:22 am
The lips buzz and the horn amplify this.
This thought is what I work to address by having kids blow the horn without the slide on it. Kids who think this generally have a very pinched and thin sound. I think it's because they are "muscling" their lips into buzzing. (I'm not saying this is happening in your case.)

Warning: I have no idea if what I'm saying next is correct... ;-)

The horn is more than just an amplifier. It's a resonator. What does that mean? When sound is generated correctly, the horn creates a standing wave - it resonates - and that creates a feedback loop with your lips. Air starts the lips vibrating and provides the energy to continue. So, chops - firm corners, loose and supple in the middle. Loose and supple lets your chops work in synergy with the horn.

In my mind, this is similar to how a laser works. You're adding energy at the correct frequency - the one at which the horn is already resonating.

--Andy in OKC
imsevimse
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by imsevimse » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:10 am

afugate wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:32 am
lauriet wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:22 am
The lips buzz and the horn amplify this.
This thought is what I work to address by having kids blow the horn without the slide on it. Kids who think this generally have a very pinched and thin sound. I think it's because they are "muscling" their lips into buzzing. (I'm not saying this is happening in your case.)

Warning: I have no idea if what I'm saying next is correct... ;-)

The horn is more than just an amplifier. It's a resonator. What does that mean? When sound is generated correctly, the horn creates a standing wave - it resonates - and that creates a feedback loop with your lips. Air starts the lips vibrating and provides the energy to continue. So, chops - firm corners, loose and supple in the middle. Loose and supple lets your chops work in synergy with the horn.

In my mind, this is similar to how a laser works. You're adding energy at the correct frequency - the one at which the horn is already resonating.

--Andy in OKC
This is another way to describe efficiency to me.

It does no harm to think like that if it helps to get a better result and it correlates a lot with the picture I have in my mind as I work on been more efficient.

No waist of air. To find the most efficient stream and blow. To find the most efficient vibration on the lips. To use only the amount of resources that is needed to get the best result you have in your head. This is economic playing to me. To add energy in a way the horn plays itself and you just stay out of the way and let it happen.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
boneagain
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by boneagain » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:06 am

"The horn is more than just an amplifier. It's a resonator."

Well, that might be more accurately stated as "The horn is an amplifier BECAUSE it's a resonator." More accurately still, "The horn is an amplifier that uses resonance to behave as an acoustical impedence matching transformer between the player's lips and the room being played in." (check this link https://acousticstoday.org/7-the-world- ... impedance/ )

But even I am antagonistic to THAT much technicality.

We have seen that buzzing on a shortened tube WORKS (at least for some students.) Do we really need to venture up Wittgenstein's Ladder and create questionable explanations as to WHY it works?

For students who specifically WANT the CURRENT understanding of the theoretical underpinnings, we can send them to New South Wales ( http://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/ ) or Edinburgh (http://www.acoustics.ed.ac.uk/ ) or Harry F. Olson (https://www.amazon.com/Music-Physics-En ... 5KE6SZER8V) or Art Benade (https://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Mus ... ics+benade ) just to name a few.

But for most students I think having a teacher who knows specific exercises for specific concerns and also knows the possible versus desired outcomes of those exercises is the safest roadmap to better playing.
lauriet
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by lauriet » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:27 am

I should have added an extra "key"

1: The lips make the buzz.
2: The air makes the lips buzz.
3: Make it sound great.



Laurie
timothy42b
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by timothy42b » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:56 am

boneagain wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:06 am
"The horn is more than just an amplifier. It's a resonator."
Not just an amplifier, but a stabilizer.

Yes, they're related with your resonator concept.

But the horn assists the lips to vibrate at the right frequency, and there's a perceived mental element to that.
Wilktone
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Re: How do you teach/describe your “breathing concept”?

Post by Wilktone » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:54 am

I have a chance to be an (occasional) assistant instructor (as an alumni) for trombone section of my former school.
I'm not familiar with the education system in Thailand, what age students will you be working with? Will they have had some prior trombone instruction? If yes, do you have an idea as to what they will have already been taught?

I think we all understand already that whatever advice you offer should be appropriate for the age and experience of the student's you're working with. There's also the environment you'll be teaching in and factors like what time of day it is, how many students you're working with at once, how long you have with them and how often, and what the students have been doing the rest of the day can influence their ability to absorb information.

With more information about your specific situation I think we could come up with some more targeted suggestions.

Dave
David Wilken
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