Did anyone made a copy of "The Circle of Breath"



  • I once made a photocopy but can't find it anymore 😞



  • Everybody who wants to keep this, please copy and paste/save to your computer. Glad to help, just that I don't want to keep doing this. K'lani.

    Cycle of Breath

    1. The first step is a prepared body. If our chest cavity is "collapsed", we have to inflate it with force. That is pretty stupid. When we are sitting or standing up straight but relaxed (yoga is VERY good for this), all we have to do is inhale. We can get a huge amount of air without having to pressurize the lungs by force. Learning to prepare the body for playing is easy with beginners and increasingly difficult for players with more experience as they have to break habits to make new ones! It is important to have this activity monitored.

    2. Once the body is big and relaxed, we draw a big circle. The left side (moving clockwise) is inhale and the right side is exhale. Notice at the top and bottom of the circle that it is still round - no disturbances. Our transition from inhale to exhale and exhale to inhale must mirror that. We do not hold air in, it is either moving in or out. We have to practice getting BIG breaths without building up tension in the throat or upper body. We use the diaphragm to inhale, but subconsciously. We don't need to think about how those muscles work, we just give them the big, relaxed body and they know what to do!
      We do not need to "push" our air out, we just exhale. Generally students have a BIG problem getting a big breath and then just exhaling. There is so much "learned" tension present that they need weeks to get this down.

    3. Once our breathing works (in my lessons that means when I am satisfied - not when the student thinks that they are done), then we replace exhale with play. We do not tongue notes, we just switch to exhale and what happens, happens. The goal here is to develop the breathing apparatus and lips so that we are so relaxed that sound comes at the peak of the circle with no kickstart by the tongue. A couple of weeks of long tones this way shows us a lot about everything that we have been doing wrong. Notice how Rashawn in the youtube just exhales a triple C? Completely free of hard work! This is how it has to work in every register. Just exhale the note.

    4. When I am happy with this stage, the student exhales into lip slurs - same principle - no tongue! Just exhale! Another couple weeks goes by to "perfect" this (it is never perfect) and we have made a considerable step forward. Our tone is no longer dependent on the tongue to reliably speak - regardless of how high or low, loud or soft. Generally with no tongue applied, we can lip slur a fifth to an octave more than we had before. The range caves when making music because we are still missing too much stuff.

    5. At this point I have very specific things to learn to add the tongue. Critical here is that we do not use the sledgehammer tonguing that we needed when we were using pressure, we have to develop infinitely small "T", "D", "K", "G", "L", "R" attacks that are only used to "articulate" the beginning of the tone that occurs at the peak of the Circle of Breath. The tonguing must occur EXACTLY at the point where we switch from in- to exhale. If we tongue too early or late, we screw up the transition. This means we are back to long tones and trained ears and eyes to insure that old habits don't screw up what we have now carefully built. Once long tones work, we can tongue the initial intro into the lip slur. If our tone without attack was clean, the articulation is only frosting on top of the cake!

    6. Following this, the student gets easy tunes like from the hymnbook and we work on proper breathing and articulation of real music.

    This Circle of Breath is as far as I am concerned the biggest deal in trumpet playing. Without being able to do this, the rest can't ever click. It is as simple as inhale/exhale. The problem is understanding what we have done to ourselves: how sloppy we sit, stand, walk. How crappy our posture is, how caved in our upper body is, how tense our neck and shoulders are because we hang our heads, how brutal our tonguing is to kickstart a screwed embouchure that uses excessive pressure to enable playing at all. In addition we have a learned unwillingness to accept very small steps of improvement because we have learned to download cheats and believe the idiots that claim to have silver bullets for problems. We do not even notice the small improvements and therefore get frustrated that we haven't experienced the "miracle". I won't even get into lifestyle and attitude.

    The human state is a product of what we repeatedly do. We need challenges and successes. We need the wisdoms to prepare ourselves adequately for the challenges any time that we can. That foundation can carry us a long way if it is solid.

    I saw my lifes motto in a pub in Belfast a couple of years ago: Life is too short for cheap beer. We can add a lot of other things important to our wellbeing besides beer to this motto.



  • @Kehaulani I never could grasp that whole thing, not that I disagree with it, but I just can’t wrap my head around it.
    I took it this way: the better my breathing becomes, the better my playing.
    That is how I wrapped it up.



  • I am not commenting on its content, just reproducing rowuk's procedure for anyone who wants it..



  • @Kehaulani .....understood. No problem



  • @BigDub remember that we are trumpet players, here for our good looks and ability to play fast, loud and high, let's not question the underlying why's and wherefores ☺
    The teacher from whom I benefitted most in my early teens taught me to maintain rock-hard abs whilst playing. He was a leading pro trom player back in the day. I know from talking recently to older teachers (who teach a much more relaxed breathing method) that the hard abs method was advocated back then by the 1st trumpet from the Melbourne symph. At the time he was the go-to trumpet for many genres and a leading teacher.
    My vocal teacher introduced a similar concept to circle of breath. I picked up a horn after a long layoff and noticed that it seemed easier to play when applying the vocal breathing techniques (along with the relaxed muscles needed to sing). Nowadays, my range is a little better than it was back in the days of tensed-up guts, but it's certainly way easier to play, control and make (JMHO) a nice sound.
    So circle of breath is a real thing, it reinforced the ideas from my singing teacher and nicely articulated the breathing technique.

    Now whether it's the basis for a religion 😈



  • @tjcombo I simply don’t understand how to do it.



  • @BigDub here's where it gets dangerous - my take is that the trumpet is kind of incidental at first. Breathing is a natural thing and we don't hold our breath after inhaling, the air almost falls back out without any physical effort. Greg Spence's take on the circle of breath is that breathing is like a golf swing - you don't hold the club at the top of your back-swing. Inhaling and exhaling is one continuous (no tension) exercise.
    Another important component is not using your tongue to start a note when getting this whole concept working. I think it was a post from VB that started me working on "breath attack" (attack is almost too strong a word here). It's easier to excite a trumpet into making a noise by releasing an explosion of wind with your tongue, but a lot more factors have to be right to reliably start a note just by breathing into the horn.
    So circle of breath as it works for me is full, (but not huge, forced) breaths, put the horn gently on your chops and exhale through the mouthpiece at the top of the circle, backswing, whatever you want to call it. Just let the notes flow. It's beautiful thing and it would've been nice to have this advice when I started to learn as an 8 year old.
    Does that make sense?



  • If rowuk posts here he might disagree with me, but regarding the Circle of Breath explanation, and that it might be too much to process all at once, I would think that some of this information might, in real life, be parsed out over a couple of lessons. Which translates to several weeks. If presented like that it gives more time for it to sink in.

    The basis for this concept probably can be given as introduction, but unfolding all of the information may take a little time. And for those needing more clarification, I'll bet a teacher will pace himself.



  • @tjcombo I believe it helps, tj.
    I think I might be subconsciously doing something along those lines and the closer I get to doing it right the better it feels.



  • Thank you Kehauli for the copy. Really helpful for my students



  • @tjcombo said in Did anyone made a copy of "The Circle of Breath":
    it would've been nice to have this advice when I started to learn as an 8 year old.

    Does that make sense?

    Yes, big time



  • Thanks Kehaulani! This is a keeper that I will share.

    MIke



  • @Kehaulani said in Did anyone made a copy of "The Circle of Breath":

    If rowuk posts here he might disagree with me, but regarding the Circle of Breath explanation, and that it might be too much to process all at once, I would think that some of this information might, in real life, be parsed out over a couple of lessons. Which translates to several weeks. If presented like that it gives more time for it to sink in.

    The basis for this concept probably can be given as introduction, but unfolding all of the information may take a little time. And for those needing more clarification, I'll bet a teacher will pace himself.

    I agree. This is a lifelong process as we are ingenious at creating tension in our bodies. In the beginning it is advantageous to do this as a monitored process by a teacher who practices good playing hygiene.



  • Would working on the circle of breath be part of your warm up?



  • This kind of seamless breathing is good for warmup, meditation, and before and after the downbeat.



  • @JorgePD said in Did anyone made a copy of "The Circle of Breath":

    Would working on the circle of breath be part of your warm up?

    It is the core of everything that I do. If I have time for a warmup, for sure. If not, some other time of the day. We need to stay connected to the needs of our bodies and attitudes.



  • @Vulgano-Brother

    After reading your comment on using it for meditation, I just spent 5 minutes trying it while sitting at my desk at work. I was a bit agitated when I started and it calmed me down. I really needed an attitude adjustment! Thanks!



  • That's what Yogic breathing is all about - to prepare the mind for relaxation and meditation. If you look at it from a different angle, basic Buddhist meditation is concentrating on your breathing. The use of breathing methods can have many goals, but basically, that's it.



  • So based on what I’m reading here, the Circle of Breath is more than just a breathing exercise. It also helps to relax the body and mind, which prepares us to be more effective when playing the trumpet. Is that correct?


Log in to reply