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Would you like to get your sound under better control? And produce a beautiful, full sound? Good breath support is the way to accomplish this. Only with a good breath support as your motor can you regulate the sound of your embouchure in an optimal way. Breath support is above all the link between how you feel and your body. That makes learning good breath support worthwhile, especially when you make music.

Here are four exercises to help you become aware of your breath support.

1. Observe
You will make quick progress if you pay attention to breath support, but the real art is first of all to observe and learn how your body behaves when you are breathing. Note where you feel your breath in your body as you:

– smell something nice
– sniff
– yawn
– cough
– laugh
– when you sit on a stool and lean forward until your stomach touches your knees (feel your back move!)
– when you breathe in and out slowly

2. Observe with your hands

Lay one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest and breathe in and out for about six seconds. Do you feel how when you breathe in your stomach extends forwards first, and then your chest?
When you breathe out your chest falls first. This is followed by the stomach going inwards. Maybe you don’t feel this. Note, however, where you feel movement.

3. Make space

In this exercise you want to become aware of how to make space in your back, sides, stomach and chest:
Take a scarf and tie it around your waist. Tie it on tightly (though don’t use a knot, so that your arms are free to move).

– Can you push this scarf outwards when you inhale, and cause your hands to come closer together? Can you inhale in this way without using your chest cavity? And can you also inhale when using it?
– See whether you can make the movement greater, and thus use more of the scarf.
– Focus your attention on your back. While inhaling try to feel your back move outwards.
– Focus your attention on your sides. While inhaling try to make your sides go outwards.
– Tie the scarf around your chest. While inhaling can you make your chest cavity expand, and thus push the scarf outwards?

4. Active exhaling and relaxed inhaling

We are not always active when we exhale nor do we always let the inhalation come of itself. However, this is what you have to do when you play a wind instrument (but also when you speak and when you are doing heavy lifting!). You can feel this well with the help of the following exercises:

– Exhale completely using a strong “fffff” and also use your stomach muscles. You may use your hands to stimulate the inward movement of your stomach.

– When you can no longer exhale, let your muscles loose and you will feel that you inhale of yourself with the use of your waist. Your stomach will extend forward again.
Practice this until it is effortless and you inhale quickly.

– Be careful that you are standing completely straight, as if you have a string tied to the crown of your head pulling you up. Be sure you are standing correctly when exhaling, as well as inhaling.

– Also practice this quickly with short powerful exhalations. If you become dizzy, this means that you are inhaling too high and your need to relax more when you inhale.

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