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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningPractice Room(Moderator: blast) Increase air efficiency?
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Googleman225
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« on: Feb 11, 2017, 01:39PM »

Throughout high school and beginning of college I was able to maintain one breath of air for a considerable amount of time. Now, I'm running out of air on a simple Bb, F, Bb (both ways) lip-slur. Are there any exercises/techniques I can try out to hopefully improve my efficiency?
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 11, 2017, 03:26PM »

Practice playing quietly.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 11, 2017, 03:42PM »

There are a lot of breathing exercises that can help. If you've never done any before I would start with The Breathing Gym from tubists Sam Pilafian and Patrick Sheridan. Great stuff that will help you learn to open up your body, take big relaxed breaths and move air freely in both directions.

I also very much like a set of exercises from an older book. I found it here: https://westonsprott.com/21-days and then I found the book it came from: "Super Lung Power & Breath Control in 5 Minutes a Day" by A. A. "Sandy" Adams. I think it's long out of print. This addresses length of exhale very specifically, and I see results in exactly that when I go through this 21 day program.

I do still the Breathing Gym training is a valuable base to start from though, and I don't think I would recommend the Adams 21-day routine until some of that work in simply moving large quantities of air had been done.
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 2017, 03:52PM »

Now, I'm running out of air on a simple Bb, F, Bb (both ways) lip-slur.

That's pretty severe.  Is there some other lung/breathing condition at work?  Do you smoke?
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 11, 2017, 09:50PM »

That's pretty severe.  Is there some other lung/breathing condition at work?  Do you smoke?


I agree completely with Gabe, but my immediate thought was that this sounds rather severe as well. If you're having trouble sustaining sound for three or four beats, I would consult with a physician to rule out anything that could be hazardous from a health perspective.
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Josh Bledsoe
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 12, 2017, 02:45AM »

Unless there is serious health condition, we all have pretty much the same lung capacity. Everything is a compromise and a question of how well we use what we've got and how well we can masque our deficiencies.

I remember James Watson telling me that he has done a medical test, just to make sure that his lung capacity is nothing out of the ordinary (he was famous for playing long phrases in one breath). On the other hand, we had Maurice Murphy - he couldn't do that because of chronic bronchitis or something of the kind...But he could take breath so quickly, you couldn't even notice.

So...You can try with Long tones and playing long phrases...Or do like Maurice. Anything goes, as long as nobody notice it.
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 12, 2017, 06:23AM »

Besides the good advice above I would suggest that...barring a medical condition of some sort...having a weakly supported musculature in the embouchure area will allow the air to rush out very inefficiently. The aperture simply gets too big, and WHOOOSH!!!...the air disappears.

Solutions?

1-Long tones. Lots of them, at mf and quieter. Go here for a recent post I made regarding Carmine Caruso exercises that will help. You need a good, well-balanced resistance at the chop if you are going to be able to maximize the efficiency of whatever air you have available.

2-Equipment. What size horn and m'pce are you playing? I know that when I have been playing small tenor for a number of weeks and suddenly have to play a gig on bass trombone...I have mine set up to be very open-blowing including a 1G-ish sized m'pce...it sometimes takes me a number of days of serious practice to adjust my embouchure so that my air doesn't consistently run out too soon. You could have the greatest air capacity the world has ever seen but if you open your mouth wide and blow as hard as you can it will only be a few seconds before all your air is gone. The resistance...or lack of resistance...provided by the horn can help in matters like this.

Get back to me...

S.
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 12, 2017, 06:46AM »

The aperture simply gets too big, and WHOOOSH!!!...the air disappears.

I like the way Sam puts it....very often that happens. Concerning the equipment - the OP doesn't suggest that he is switching equipment.

If you, Googleman, you need to spend time on both instruments and possibly even practice the switch. We are a creature of habit. When you get good habit settled, everything will be just fine.

If after all of these advices you don't get on the right track you may have to get a lesson, either with a local professional or with Doug online.

Aim for deep relaxed breathing and well controlled embouchures. I don't know better way of doing that than soft playing of longtones, arpeggions, lips slurs and trills.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 15, 2017, 06:05PM »

Besides the good advice above I would suggest that...barring a medical condition of some sort...having a weakly supported musculature in the embouchure area will allow the air to rush out very inefficiently. The aperture simply gets too big, and WHOOOSH!!!...the air disappears.

Solutions?

1-Long tones. Lots of them, at mf and quieter. Go here for a recent post I made regarding Carmine Caruso exercises that will help. You need a good, well-balanced resistance at the chop if you are going to be able to maximize the efficiency of whatever air you have available.

2-Equipment. What size horn and m'pce are you playing? I know that when I have been playing small tenor for a number of weeks and suddenly have to play a gig on bass trombone...I have mine set up to be very open-blowing including a 1G-ish sized m'pce...it sometimes takes me a number of days of serious practice to adjust my embouchure so that my air doesn't consistently run out too soon. You could have the greatest air capacity the world has ever seen but if you open your mouth wide and blow as hard as you can it will only be a few seconds before all your air is gone. The resistance...or lack of resistance...provided by the horn can help in matters like this.

Get back to me...

S.

This! And I have noticed that my air not only rushes out but it is pushed out. Control of rate of flow also includes the tendency to empty via the diaphragm. I have found that holding my breath for short periods of time and learning not to panic has given me more control on the exhale (blow). I don't feel as tight. I feel like I can do more with less air even though it is not less. Just moving slower.

The above is an observation only. Not advice.
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 15, 2017, 09:41PM »

Control of rate of flow also includes the tendency to empty via the diaphragm.

Could you explain this further? During the exhale, the diaphragm is in various states of relaxation and is not responsible for helping empty the lungs.
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 16, 2017, 08:12AM »

Could you explain this further? During the exhale, the diaphragm is in various states of relaxation and is not responsible for helping empty the lungs.
Good catch! If the diaphragm relaxes then the the air is expelled. I had to look into it more and what I mistook as the diaphragm forcing air out is actually a combination of lack of elasticity in the lungs and ribcage combined with the involuntary contractions that can occur - at least with me - due to improper breathing ( using muscles to breathe that are not necessary unless in an emergency or some athletic activity ). This is what breath holding seems to loosen up for me.
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 16, 2017, 11:54PM »

I learned a method when I was young. Put a practice mute in the bell and blow a low f fortissimo a couple of times. Take it out and everything sounds better. At least for some time. Another thing is to use air attack for whatever piece\etude you play and then add tongue later.

Also make sure to breath through the corners. It makes the air use more effective. In general I believe its best to just breath natural, not do so much fancy tings with the body. Simple and effective.

Leif
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 18, 2017, 05:46AM »

Your chops and other variables may not be set for the pitches you're intending to play.  I mean they may not resonate well at those pitches.  To force them to make the note, you may be using more air than necessary. 

sabutin's long tones have guided me from a similar situation to one where I'm often surprised how easily the notes get started at low effort. 

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« Reply #13 on: Feb 18, 2017, 05:59AM »

Your chops and other variables may not be set for the pitches you're intending to play.  I mean they may not resonate well at those pitches.  To force them to make the note, you may be using more air than necessary. 

sabutin's long tones have guided me from a similar situation to one where I'm often surprised how easily the notes get started at low effort. 



What he said.

Including the plug.

I call my book Time, Balance & Connections. Why? Because if you time in your initial attacks you will find the correct balance...that's what Carmine Caruso sometimes called an embouchure...for all notes at all volumes. This increases the efficiency of your embouchure...which is the real way to "increase air efficiency"...at which point you can connect through you ranges much more easily.

Check it out.

S.

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« Reply #14 on: Feb 18, 2017, 07:49AM »

First thing I thought of was maybe that you had recently changed mouthpieces or switched to a larger trombone? If not, something really changed with how you move air through your embouchure once this issue became apparent.

It could also be that something changed with your posture and chest cavity. Have you tried playing standing up?
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