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Linda’s Learning Lessons – Breathe!

4th November 2019

Proper use of breath support is essential for woodwind and brass instruments. Well, without air, they wouldn’t make a sound!

Playing slowly through passages helps me become more aware of my breath. It makes me release the air in a more controlled way, ensuring I engage my core muscles to help support my breathing.

“Proper breathing is just as important as proper technique.”

Playing various scales was a challenge to begin with. I was advised to take a big breath at the beginning, and another before I come back down the scale. This seemed like too much to think about as well as reading the notes, making sure my fingers were placed correctly, giving the note its full value…!
Someone else advised me instead to breathe when required and try not to think about it… At the time, the latter was more useful as I could nurture the technique separately. Now, as I’ve developed a better understanding of what I can do, both are relevant and helpful bits of information.

Initially, I concentrated too much on the breath marks in my pieces suggested by my teacher. At first it was distracting, but they’re there to provide direction on sensible places to breathe in order to support the passage or phrase of music. Eventually, it became second nature as my lung capacity and breath support improved.

“Always remain conscious of how you use your air.”

When I warm up to play with scale and tone exercises, I make sure I’m aware of how my use of air affects the volume – or dynamics – of my playing. It will also affect tuning, so I always have my tuner to hand.

“Life is air. Flute is air.”

Krzysztof Kaczka