Introducing Students to Instruments: Breathing

Here are some basic things to remember when introducing band students to proper breathing technique.

  • Breathing
    • Attention-spans of students are short—don’t get too technical.
    • Never breathe from your nose! Remind students of this.
    • Instruct the kids to breathe from their diaphragm.
      • If possible, include a picture or model of how the diaphragm works.
    • Do not let them raise their shoulders when they breathe.
      • Imagery:
        • Imagine that you have a big, red balloon in your stomach, and you have to make it expand. Put your hand on your stomach to feel it.
        • Yawn and imagine the air just falling into your lungs.
        • Imagine that you have an inflatable tire around your middle, breathe so that you feel it expand all the way around your back. Place your hands on your back or waist to feel this.
        • Also, try bending over slightly and breathing—this will help you to place the air correctly.
    • Breathing Embouchure
      • Many students don’t form the proper “O” embouchure when inhaling.
        • Ex: flute players often take a breath using their flute embouchure.
      • Try a LaMaze-like technique: say “hee” repeatedly, using the diaphragm, and slowly modify your vowel to “ho,” slowing at the end.

About Lady Fair

Lady is a musician with a bachelor's degree in music education. She plays multiple instruments and has participated in numerous musical ensembles, giving her a wide variety of experiences and knowledge to use in her teaching career. Of her ensemble participation, she has fifteen years of band experience, nine years choral, and four years in orchestra. Éowyn's primary instrument is clarinet, with voice and piano being close secondary instruments. Throughout her musical education career she studied voice and clarinet simultaneously. In addition to clarinet, piano, and voice, she has also studied violin and oboe at the college level, and also plays recorder, tin whistle, and other instruments in the woodwind family. If you ask her, she will say, "I chose to major in music education because I have a desire to use my knowledge and experience in music to share its beauty and foster a love of music in the hearts of my students. I hope to encourage my students to try their hardest, feel like they have accomplished something, and give them a life long passion for music." Lady currently teaches private lessons on clarinet, sax, flute, oboe, piano, and voice, and recently gained a position teaching orchestra and chorus at a local middle school. She is also a member of the Once Upon a Dream woodwind ensembles.
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