The Final Piece
The last 2 posts have built up to this final post. Here we’ll provide all the steps for breath support and get your tone sounding even better!
How to Fill The Bottom First
Last week we talked about filling up a barrel with water. It’s not surprising that it fills up the “bottom” first and then rises to the top. When we breath, we tend to fill up the top first (our chest). When using breath support, we want to follow the barrel example and fill up the “bottom” first (our stomach area). Quick tip: If you lay on your back and breath naturally, your stomach will rise before your chest. This is what it means to fill up the “bottom” first; the stomach area expands before the chest. Here are all the details.
Kind of Feels Like Meditation
Use the following steps to properly apply breath support. After I wrote this, I discovered that the steps remind me meditation. What do you think? Go ahead and give this a try without the saxophone first.
Taking In Air
- Sit up straight
- Place the eraser end of a pencil on your stomach.
- The pencil should not lay flat but should be sticking out
- Take a deep breath
- Feel the air come in through your nose
- Imagine it going through your body into the stomach
- Imagine the air is now going out of your stomach through the pencil
- This will cause the stomach to expand (as well as your sides and lower back)
- Now allow the air to fill up your lungs
Letting the air out
- Let the air out through your mouth
- Do not let the stomach deflate (keep pushing out)
- Let the air out of your lungs first
- Imagine letting the air out of your stomach through your mouth (your stomach will lower)
- Still push your stomach out while the air is exiting
It seems simple and complex at the same time. It’s simple because it’s breathing. It’s difficult because it’s the opposite way that we naturally breath. If you have a hard time applying this, go through these steps while laying on your back. This will make it easier.
I first learned the technique of breath support in college. It made a big difference almost immediately, but it took some time for this skill to transition into a habit. Then I started teaching a saxophone methods class. The class was for music education majors, whose primary instrument was not saxophone. When we discussed breath support, the approaches of these students varied. Keep in mind that every student in the room had been taught breath support from a different teacher. From that point on, I began to ask my colleagues about their approach to breath support. Do you know what I discovered? There are many different ways to do breath support. There’s not just one approach in regards to this subject. I encourage you to be open to different versions, and use that information to improve your breath support.
We’ve been talking about breath support over the last three weeks and I’ve had some great responses from students. People are applying breath support and are noticing a difference in their tone. They’ve also seen an improvement in the response of the saxophone. Have you tried it out yet? I would love to hear about your experience in the comment section. Your comments will also help other students.
We would also love your help getting the word out. If you think others would enjoy our breath support posts, please share by using the social media buttons on this page. We appreciate your help!
Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to hear about your improvement!