Cause and Effect

When the ribs move in conjunction with the diaphragm’s descent, air is brought into the body. It is the movement of the ribs and diaphragm and subsequent expansion of the thoracic cavity which causes air to come into the body.

Air coming into the body does not cause the ribs and diaphragm to move – that’s backwards.

The lungs don’t do anything by themselves – they depend upon surrounding structures (the ribs and diaphragm) to move. If it weren’t for the ribs and diaphragm moving, the lungs would just sit there like a liver or an appendix.



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  1. #1 by Justin Croushore on December 24, 2010 - 12:29 am

    Hello Mr Vining!

    I have recently been following your blogs and reading through your texts, and by the practices you suggest have made great improvements in my trombone playing. I have managed to cultivate a somewhat faulty method of use and manipulation of the pharyngeal space in order to produce sound over these years which has given me immense troubles. with constructive rest and use of the breathing book, i feel that i have accurately pinpointed this problem. thanks! but as i am relaxing these muscles and learning how to blow without their aid, i am developing a strong awareness of my soft palate blocking off my nasal cavities as i am playing. i have been sounding fabulous recently and by playing feels immensely freer than ever before, but the awareness of the soft palate hardening is constantly there. is this safe? little instruction if offered on this part of the body, and i do not necessarily like this constant awareness. maybe that will fade as it becomes more acclimated as an element of my playing. but anyways, i have a simple question in general: can you help explain to me the function of the palate in trombone playing? should it be mapped as part of the pharyngeal space? a link i will share below shows the extent of what i have sound regarding these matters, but i would love to hear your take on such matters. thank you very much!

    justin croushore

    p.s.- i apologize for posting this as a comment to a relatively unrelated blog entry!

  2. #2 by viningda on December 24, 2010 - 1:25 am

    Hi Justin,

    Thanks for your comment. It takes a lot of guts to post such an insightful question and I appreciate your willingness to do so. I looked at the link you provided and recognized some of the researchers names. In particular, this quote jumped out at me:

    “When playing a wind instrument, air passes from the lungs up into the upper respiratory tract and is eventually channeled into the mouthpiece of the instrument
    via some form of reed mechanism.”

    Unless the researcher is thinking of the brass players’ embouchure as a “reed mechanism” (doubtful), it seems this study is directed toward woodwind players.

    in fact, my experience interacting with woodwind players and teachers tells me that such soft palette issues are far more prevalent in the woodwind world than they are in our brass world. That’s not to say that this part of the body is not tremendously important to us – of course it is! The pharyngeal space can be considered a resonating cavity for a brass player, rather like a fine singer.

    In order to have an open pharyngeal space, one need only do nothing! When we TRY to open this space (sometimes simply referred to as the “throat”), we often get into trouble. Sometimes, in our zeal to improve, we try to do too much!

    I do believe the soft palette should be mapped as part of the pharyngeal space. When I play, this is how I think and it seems to work pretty well. I do not believe it is beneficial to try and micromanage to the point of designating a sort of soft palette region as separate from the pharyngeal space.

    The good news is that you are sounding great. I say keep your focus outside of the instrument as much as possible. Simply understanding the pharyngeal space as an important resonating space for a trombonist is enough. Your post clearly demonstrates that you have an accurate and adequate understanding of this part of your body. Now relax, blow and make music!

  3. #3 by Justin Croushore on December 24, 2010 - 2:45 am

    Thanks Mr. Vining!

    Ill consider this in my practice!


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