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Clarinets Breathing habits between bari sax and clarinet

jthole

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Since a couple of months, I double on bari sax and clarinet (both amateur level). I also take a clarinet lesson now and then, when my schedule permits, and I try to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to each instrument every week.

Embouchure, fingering, and tone production are all reasonably fine, but adjusting my breathing turns out to be a struggle. I suffer a lot from "stale air" on clarinet, and I am not sure if the problem is too deep breaths (my teacher thinks that plays a role), or blowing out incorrectly. Anyway, in long and fast passages, with minimal time to exhale between phrases, it is driving me mad!

I'm playing a very average setup; Vandoren B45 mouthpiece, with Vandoren (blue box) 2,5 reeds. Of course, stale air isn't an issue on the bari sax ;-) It may be that I need to focus on taking in less air on clarinet indeed. My clarinet teacher has no sax experience (especially not on bari), but can understand how different air speed, volume, and breath support are on a bari sax.

Anyone with experience in doubling on those two instruments, and maybe helpful tips?

Thanks!
 

Jamesmac

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I adjust my wind speed with my air intake. Which is obviously a bit different with each instrument. But not excessively so.:)
 

BigMartin

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Never doubled, but I've played both. Stale air was a recurring problem for me on clarinet. Lack of air can be a problem for me (though not such a serious one) on baritone. I can't see any solution but practising different ways of inhaling. On clarinet, try breathing in while moving your ribcage as little as possible. So the air just goes to the bottom of the lungs. I don't know if this is anatomically correct, but that's what it feels like. This reduces the amount of air taken in and makes it easier to generate extra pressure with the abdominal muscles. On the baritone, if you've got a long note coming up you want to fill your lungs as much as possible, and that means expanding your chest
 

kevgermany

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I think you'll find it's not the amount, but frequency of breathing on sop. On Bari you use air fast, so breathing driven by your lungs emptying. On clarinet/sop you use very little air, so breathing's driven by staleness. But by the time the air in your lungs is stale it's too late. Try marking frequent breathing points on the score. Make sure you do a quick exhale/inhale on every one and every rest as you play.
 
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jbtsax

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It also helps your tone quality to try to use all of your air for each phrase, regardless of the instrument being played.
 

Guenne

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Hi,

I don't think it is a problem of breathing "too much".
Indeed, trying not to move one's ribcage is a bad advice IMHO.
It has to move to allow breathing, if one understands that breathing is not sucking in air but allowing air to flow in.

In my experience it could be a problem of bad voicing and lack of control of the airflow.
The clarinet might need more (or different) effort and (using this word in a positive way) tension than the Bari does in regards of voicing and different other things.
If one builds up the "wrong" tension (too much lip or jaw pressure, pinching, stiff neck), it is almost impossible to exhale in the desired manner.

I suggest buying two brilliant books i recently came upon:

A Complete Approach to Sound
A Complete Approach to Overtones

http://everythingsaxophone.blogspot.co.at/2012/12/a-complete-approach-to-sound-for-modern.html

Cheers,
Guenne
 

jbtsax

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I was taught that the posture for correct breathing involves the shoulders down and relaxed, back straight, and the rib cage as high as possible. In this position when filling the lungs from "the bottom up", the rib cage does not move. Instead the lower abdomen expands like an inner tube being filled with air.
 

Guenne

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I was taught that the posture for correct breathing involves the shoulders down and relaxed, back straight, and the rib cage as high as possible. In this position when filling the lungs from "the bottom up", the rib cage does not move. Instead the lower abdomen expands like an inner tube being filled with air.

Heyo,

the point is that you don't fill your lungs.
They fill up by themselves.
Please take a look at this to clarify:

http://billplakemusic.org/2013/09/0...l-to-help-you-understand-and-teach-breathing/

Cheers,
Guenne
 
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BigMartin

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Heyo,

the point is that you don't fill your lungs.
They fill up by themselves.
Well, you do really. You fill them by reducing the pressure in your chest cavity. You might as well say you don't fill a glass, the water just falls in by itself.
 

BigMartin

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I was taught that the posture for correct breathing involves the shoulders down and relaxed, back straight, and the rib cage as high as possible. In this position when filling the lungs from "the bottom up", the rib cage does not move. Instead the lower abdomen expands like an inner tube being filled with air.
The point I was trying to make (probably badly) is that you want extra air, eg for a long note on baritone you can train youself to open the ribcage beyond the relaxed position. Not something you're going to need very often on clarinet.
 

Guenne

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Well, you do really. You fill them by reducing the pressure in your chest cavity. You might as well say you don't fill a glass, the water just falls in by itself.

Hey,

actually there is a big difference in people's reaction.
Just listen to all all those gasps for air.

Cheers,
Guenne
 

jbtsax

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That all makes sense to me. I was taught some of those misconceptions and passed them on to my students. :oops: However, I don't see any real contradictions with what I said in my previous post. In proper breathing the rib cage may move out slightly as you inhale and in slightly as you exhale, but it should not move up and down. When starting with good posture keeping the ribcage high, it can't go higher when you inhale. Thanks for that link. Those are ideas worth pursuing.
 

Guenne

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In proper breathing the rib cage may move out slightly as you inhale and in slightly as you exhale, but it should not move up and down. When starting with good posture keeping the ribcage high, it can't go higher when you inhale.

Yeah,

I agree.
Good posture is a lifetime work. (Let me say this as an Alexander technique student)

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Greg Lee

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Waimanalo, Hawaii
When starting with good posture keeping the ribcage high, it can't go higher when you inhale.
Yes. There is an extensive literature on supported breath for singing, which I've only sampled, but it mostly boils down to keeping your chest expanded always and depending solely on abdominal muscles for inhaling and exhaling.
 

Guenne

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and depending solely on abdominal muscles for inhaling and exhaling.

And after some time it goes to conventional wisdom.
Even in the Facebook Saxophone groups...there is war on this topic.
Learning some "Kindergarden Anatomy" really did help me a lot to better understand what is going on.
There is a wonderful DVD, which is also highly recommended. It is called "Move well, avoid injury".

You can find short clips on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8RVdllbSow

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Colin the Bear

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If you carry your rib cage high when playing you can let the weight of your ribs sit on your over inflated lungs to push out the air with minimal effort and constant force. This deep breathing isn't something that you would use in normal everyday activities apart from maybe swimming some distance underwater.

I was confused about the phrase "stale air" and its relevancy to playing till I thought about the different sound produced by different gases. We're all familiar with the effect on the voice of helium. While playing after consuming a carbonated drink the gas made an appearance mid phrase and as it passed through the mouthpiece the pitch dipped considerably. The longer you hold your breath, the more carbon dioxide there will be in it. Am I right in thinking that this will lower the pitch and necessitate embouchure correction reducing quality of tone or loss of accurate pitch.

Taking in the right amount of air at the right time is as important as the right fingering. A quick exhale before inhaling should keep the lungs full of clean air and prevent any light headedness. It's a delicate balance between maintaining bodily functions and faciltating the piece you're playing. Breathing needs to be planned.and practiced.
 

baritonesax

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Twickenham
Sounds like over-breathing to me. I double from bari to clarinet and sop, and I've got used to it. I very frequently used to have to breathe out at the end of phrases playing clarinet, much less now though it does happen.

I actually spend more time playing bass trombone than anything else these days, and have had to learn not to over-inflate whilst playing the bari now. Breath support is the same for any wind instrument, or singing - I think your issue is how much breath to take, pure and simple.

Bill
 

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