Posted by Griff on December 21, 1999 at 12:24:36:
In Reply to: Length of phrase posted by Jon on December 21, 1999 at 11:22:49:
The majority of phrasing problems are due to two areas. The amount of air that you take in, and the amount of air that you release. I have found that most musicians do not have a problem with inhaling, it is the exhaling that is problematic. There are many scientific (Jacobian) ways to work through building better breath support with machines and so forth, but first and foremost, you most always be aware of how the air is moving. One successful exercise that I use with my students is that I set a metronome to 60bpm. Together with the student, I start with breathing in for four even counts and releasing for four even counts. Immediately after the air is expelled, we breathe in for five even counts and exhale for five even counts. Without stopping we add a new count at the end of every release. I always try to get students to work the count number up to 15 the first time. If your'e trying this for the first time, you will notice that you have to concentrate on getting an even amount of air out on longer passages-the metronome does not lie. Working up to 15 counts is an excellent goal for a advanced beginner. Done effectively, you have just learned how to control your airstream for 15 counts(15 seconds). This may not seem like a long time, but mentally go over your 4 measure phrase and I doubt that it lasts longer than 15 seconds. How long can you hold your breath under water? Its just a mental block that you have to over come. From a very young playing age, we have all been taught to breathe in short phrases. You just need to concentrate on playing longer phrases.
All professional musicians include various breathing excercises as a part of their every day warm up. To develop the breath support that you want, start practicing this every day. Also, talk to professors and musicians about how they exercise their breath column. You might be surprised to know that some of the best breathing excercise advice I learned was from a Flute professor! There are numerous breathing exercises, don't be afraid or unwilling to try new concepts. Best of Luck! Jason Griffith