From: "Reaban, Derek" <>
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 11:12:31 -0700
Subject: [TPIN] Breathing


Let's see if I can add to this discussion and answer your questions.  Everyone else has been right on the money with their answers based on the reading that I have done in the Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind book by Brian Frederiksen.

Here are your questions for reference:
> lets see if I understand the whole concept so far...
> If I'm breathing incorrectly, I'll still have air
> available to play, but I'll feel like I'm out of
> breath?  And this is a result of inefficient CO2
> transfer?  And if the CO2 thing is a sign that I'm
> doing "something" wrong would this also explain other
> issues such as... range and endurance?

You also asked:
> I always hear that...  "Use faster air on higher notes
> rather than more air"!
> can anyone give me some good examples of this!

I posted on this topic before, so I'm sure when you read it, you will say, "Oh yes, I remember seeing that somewhere before".

Consider an extreme case of high notes and low notes. A tuba player playing a loud, low forte in their range can expel between 140 - 160 liters of air per minute to generate this note.  A trumpet player playing a loud, low forte in their range will expel between 6-8 liters of air per minute to generate this note. This flow rate has to do with the physical nature of brass instruments. If the tuba player jumps several octaves and plays the same note as the Trumpet player with a similar dynamic, the flow rate requirement will be between 6-8 liters of air per minute.  All of this information is based on a study that Arnold Jacobs performed in a lab with brass players from the CSO back in the 1950s and is found in Brian Frederiksen's book.

If you can follow that logic, the same holds true for the trumpet as you ascend into the higher register. There is less flow rate required to generate the notes. In fact if you try to generate the same flow rate in the upper register that you do in the lower register, you will be fighting the physics of the pipe and the back pressure will be nearly impossible to overcome.  The point is, you don't have to flow so much volume of air in that register.  It's counter productive!

Now, knowing this flow rate relationship this to be true, think about your breathing when you are playing. If you have a long phrase in the low register, you will be emptying your lungs faster.  Lets say you are playing a phrase that requires 6-8 liters of air per minute in the low register.  Most people have a vital capacity in their lungs of between 3-5 liters, so after 30 seconds of playing in the low register at a forte dynamic you will have empty lungs.   If you play a similar 30 second phrase an octave and a half higher, the flow rate might only require that you expel 1 liter of air per minute.  In this case your body is ready for another breath because you are at the point where the CO2 in your blood stream has risen to the point where your body says, "BREATHE!".  But your lungs still have several liters of air left in them!

Learning how to deal with this is a combination of understanding what's going on (get Brian's book!) and practicing how to deal with these situations when you are playing in the different registers.

I hope this helps!

Derek Reaban