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Out of breath when playing

nakedlunch

Member
Messages
95
Locality
London
Hi all,

When I play my alto I seem to get out of breath quickly. When I have played a few lines and I feel the need to get more oxygen I seem to need to exhale before I take in a gulp of air. I think I know why I get out of breath- I believe I am playing from the throat rather than from the gut. However I don't know how to rectify this as I cannot seem successfully alter my playing style. Can anyone help?
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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You say when you've played a few lines; try breathing more often, before you need the oxygen.
 

BUMNOTE

Senior Member
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605
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Wolverhampton West Midlands
Could also practice playing looooong notes.Bumnote.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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Burnley bb9 9dn
If you're getting out of breath, you need to breathe more often and deeper. Exhale before you inhale. Before you start playing, take a breath and hold it, don't exhale, breath in more and hold it. now breathe in again. That's where to play from.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,964
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Manchester, UK
Sounds like it could be too much air, if you need to breathe out first. You can get a build up of CO2 in the lungs which makes you desperate to get rid of it. I used to have this problem on the clarinet a lot. Don't get it at all on the bari or flute, though.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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What BigMartin says is a common problem for oboe players.

Try this, which is a singing exercise:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • breath out
  • breath in slowly over a count of four and lift arms straight in front to shoulder height (this lifts the ribs). Make sure shoulders do not lift when you do this
  • hold for 4
  • breath out slowly on a hiss, lowering arms as you do
  • initially breath out for a count of 8, then 12, then 16...
Couple of things: when you breath in this should push the lower abdomen out as you fill with air. You should feel back of ribs move as you breath in. You should feel a push form the diaphragm as you breath out. If you don't try this: breath in, then exhale sharply in a series of short 'ha' (as if crotchet/rest/crotchet type rhythm). It's better done on a 'ff' than a 'ha'. If you place palm on stomach where the diaphragm is, you should feel it 'kick'.

You could move to doing it with the sax a long-tone exercise.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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do you have the same problem on tenor? I find the bigger saxes take more air, so breathign out isn't a problem, but with alto and even more so sop, I have to force myself to breath early and remember to breathe out first.

Some good advice above.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I was taught to try to use up all of the air when playing each phrase to enhance the tone quality. When doing that breathing out first is not an issue. Using the concepts of "blowing through the notes" and "blowing through the phrase" help to do this.
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,240
Locality
Austria
Hi,
nobody could explain to me the advantages of pushing the stomach out...
Anyway, it is hard to tell without actually seeing you play.

What you could practice, even without the horn:
http://davidvaldez.blogspot.co.at/2010/03/joe-allard-saxophone-method-unveiled_21.html
(scroll down to the breathing exercise..)
Though it does not go to the heart of the matter, you could try a different MPC with a larger tip opening.

I think that keeping "support" as flexible as possible will make things easier.
I hope that I am translating correctly from German: Reflectoric breathing might be the answer.
Breathing in should happen as a result of stopping breath support (loosening the involved muscles).

Greetings,
Guenne
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
Hi,
nobody could explain to me the advantages of pushing the stomach out...
Anyway, it is hard to tell without actually seeing you play.

Greetings,
Guenne

You didnt ask.
Anyway it helps fill the lower part of the lungs first.i believe singers call it using the diaphram. when they tense this before hitting a high note.
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,240
Locality
Austria
Hi Jamesmac,

I get what you want to say.
But you will not succed in breathing without using the diaphragm.
I don't think that the problem here comes from breathing in in a "wrong" way.
I think the problem comes from a bad conception of creating the necessary tension in breathing out, also callled "support".

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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"Most" people (i.e. those that have not been trained to sing or play wind/brass instruments) tend to breath very shallowly using just the upper chest.

To sing/play woodwind or brass you need a lot of air and a lot of support. Breathing properly, the diaphragm goes down which allows the lungs to expand and take in air. This also pushes the ribs (especially at the back) apart. This will also cause the lower abdomen to expand/push out.

As you breath out, the diaphragm rises, pushing the air out.

If you don't fully exhale, you will get a build-up of CO2
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,240
Locality
Austria
Hi tenorviol,

to play the sax, especially the alto, you need very little air.
Very little air is "lost" when you hold a note, and it takes very little air to make the reed vibrate.

I'd suggest to try the following:
Breathe in through the mouth, hold the air for a second or two. Leave the mouth open.
Without a sound, breathe out very slowly through the mouth, imagine "hhh".

When I play longtones or hold a long note, I have the "sensation" of breathing in through the mouthpiece while exhaling through the navel.

Cheers,
Guenne
 

Reed Warbler

Senior Member
Messages
617
Locality
Marciac, France
There is also the obvious ploy of upping your fitness level. Make a point of exercising daily to the point of being out of breath. Stamina and lung capacity should rapidly develop. You will notice it taking more and more to get you out of breath but dont blame me if you keel over without enough breath left to call an ambulance. Smoking doesn't help.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,028
Locality
Essex
do you have the same problem on tenor? I find the bigger saxes take more air, so breathign out isn't a problem, but with alto and even more so sop, I have to force myself to breath early and remember to breathe out first.

Some good advice above.

I find if I have too small a tip opening I get this even on tenor.
 

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