On Wednesday, Oren Marshall came to do a breathing workshop with the horns at Trinity.
I got a lot of good out of this session, from reminders of breathing exercises long-forgotten to a few new ones I hadn’t done before. There was very little playing but what playing we did was methodical and vastly improved by some of the breathing techniques and mouthpiece-alone playing that we did.
The best thing, though, was leaving the session feeling envigorated and energetic after all that breathing; I’d been feeling quite lethargic and unenthusiastic earlier in the day. I will definitely be adding some of the exercises to my daily (*ahem*) practise routine, but I might also try to fit in a one or two hour breathing workout at some point each week.
Some of the exercises we did:
- Various stretches while breathing
- Running on the spot, with intervals of sprinting
- Breathing to a count while walking. This included holding the breath when the lungs are full and when they are empty.
- Breathing in for a count of one and out for a count of three, with the counts getting faster and faster. Most people would hyperventilate quite quickly after doing this but as horn players we managed reasonably well.
- Breathing in all the way, ‘topping up’ a few times, then letting all the air out, expelling a bit more a few times, then breathing normally for a few breaths before repeating
- Breathing through the mouthpiece, with the stem end in the mouth
- Breathing through the mouthpiece with an embouchure formed but no tone production
- Breathing through the horn without tone production, starting on the shortest length of tubing and increasing by a semitone each measure to increase the resistance.
- Standard ‘practise it on the mouthpiece first’ playing.