Posted by Rick Denney on January 29, 2001 at 12:05:47:
In Reply to: Breathing... posted by Matt A. on January 25, 2001 at 09:42:57:
Here's a bit from Patrick Sheridan's master class on Friday at Fort Myer:
Air makes buzz makes sound. First there is air, then buzz, and then sound.
Using the largest part of our lung capacity is not natural, so we must practice it. He practices breathing every ten minutes during his practice time. We normally use the range of 10% to 20% of our lung capacity in routine living. Consequently, we must practice using the range we need for playing, which si 20% to 90 or 95%.
To breathe smoothly and deeply, we cannot think about the muscles involved. Thinking about a muscle causes it to tense up, and that is the enemey of breathing deeply. And you cannot avoid thinking about a muscle if you are thinking about it (in Patrick's words, "You cannot not think about what I tell you not to think about). You must therefore think about something else.
The places that can limit air movement are: Teeth, tongue, throat, and torso. If we think about lowering our tongue and jaw, we will tense up. So think the vowell "toe" or "doe", depending on the desired articulation. This will automatically place the tongue and jaw where they need to be. As for the rest, think about the air rushing through your lips when you inhale. The sound should emanate from the opening in your mouth, and there should not be all that much sound (unless the horn is to your lips, in which case you hear the air rushing over the mouthpiece). Focus on the air rushing through your lips and the throat and torso will do what they are supposed to do.
But thinking about the mechanics of your chest, diaphragm, and stomach will cause rather than relieve tension. In his lessons with various great teachers, he has focused on how to create musical tension and passion without the natural emotional reaction of tension. He says this is the hard thing to do in tuba playing. Taking the deep breath with a good opening is the easy part, sez he.
Rick "just the messenger" Denney