Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Ins and Outs of Breathing

Yesterday, I was able to attend an all woodwind masterclass given by Alexa Still (professor of flute at Oberlin Conservatory) called “The Ins and Outs of Breathing.” The class focused on the pedagogy of Arnold Jacobs, the late tubist of the Chicago Symphony.

The class started with an explanation of the respiratory anatomy, complete with handouts and diagrams.

From there, it extended to an explanation of proper posture:

  • Feet flat on the ground
  • Knees directly above the feet in a relaxed position
  • Hips directly over the ankles
  • Shoulders directly over the hips.
  • Keep the neck area loose.
At first, this posture may be a little awkward, as it will make you feel like you are leaning forward or tipping over. However, try taking a deep breath in this position, and you will find that it’s easier! The main point of checking posture is to make sure that one is not doing something to inhibit breathing.

Ms. Still continued the class with a few exercises:

·         Arms out, thumbs down. Move your thumbs up as you take a breath.
·         Breathe in 4, out 4. Then in 3, out 5. Then in 2, out 6. Then in 1, out 7. Then finally, in half and out 7 and a half.
·         Use your right arm as a measure of your air. Put it up 1/3 of the way to your shoulder and take in 1/3 of your air capacity.  Bring it up 1/3, and then another 1/3, and then bring it down 2/3.
·         Hardcore: All air out, hold as long as possible. All air in, hold as long as possible.

The main point of these exercises is to help you become aware of how much air you truly have.

“There’s a limit, but you can maximize what you’ve got.”

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