Do you know where your lungs are?

Do you know where your lungs are?

Yeah, I thought I did too… Some years ago I went to a respiratory therapist for a mild case of asthma. She hooked me up to the high tech machine to measure my capacity. I took a big swig and was quite pleased with myself when she told me the reading of 3.5 liters.

“hmmm”, she said…”I would have expected better from a person of your size – didn’t you say you played trombone?”

I was offended! “Well”, I said, “…I have been studying breathing to play trombone my whole life! I know how to breathe!”

“What, exactly are you thinking when you breathe?” she inquired.

“Everybody knows you’re supposed to breathe low – support from the diaphragm, down here”, I said, as I pointed to my bellybutton.

She looked quizzical as she informed me that the lungs are actually behind the ribs, not down by the bellybutton. She encouraged me to try the machine again, with an understanding of where the lungs actually reside…

humph…who was she to tell me? She didn’t play trombone! I went ahead and tried again, deciding it was best to humor her.

…The reading? 4.5 liters!

_________________________________________________ ___

Does this story resonate with you? Are you “filling up like you fill a glass of water”? Are you diligently “breathing low” when you play? Why wouldn’t you? It’s what we teach.
Unfortunately, it’s also wrong.

If you are subscribing to these breathing myths, you are creating tension in your playing. If you are teaching these breathing myths to your students, you are spreading the tension to your students and it is proliferating like crabgrass! Your students will, in turn, tell their students to breathe low and the misunderstandings will continue for generations.

Learn the truth about breathing…


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  1. #1 by William Richardson on January 20, 2010 - 4:44 pm

    Dispelling brass playing and teaching myths…one blog post at a time!

    Excellent stuff, David. Keep it up!

  2. #2 by Paul on January 27, 2010 - 2:17 pm

    Fantastic blog. Clears up so many misconceptions. As a trombonist, I am already reaping benefits just from one read-through! Hope to see more in the future.

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