Confused by Breath Support?

A Story From My Past

I remember playing in the school band in high school and the band director would shout out, “saxophones, more breath support!” It was one of those terms that I hoped the teacher would never say, “Jeff, explain to the class what breath support is and how to do it.”  It turns out that I was not the only one who didn’t know what was going on. Some of my friends didn’t have a clue either.

You’re Not Alone

I’ll ask my high school and college students what breath support is. Some know exactly what it is, but others really don’t have a clue- kind of like my situation in high school. So, if you don’t know what breath support is, you’re not alone.

So What is Breath Support?

It’s moving your diaphragm in a certain way to obtain better results in your saxophone tone and response. I know, that didn’t help. But you can begin to see why many beginners are confused with this topic. So instead of going into all the details, I’ll explain how to do it in the Our Version section below.

To Good To Be True? 

Breath support is about to change your saxophone world! I know that sounds a little dramatic, but here’s what breath support can do for you:

  1. Notes will respond easier
  2. Low notes will be easier to play
  3. Your articulation will become faster
  4. Your tone will become richer

The results may sound too good to be true, but it does take a little getting used to playing in this manner. So let’s move on and get into the details of applying breath support. Keep in mind that there are multiple approaches to this;  I’ll talk more about this in our next post.

Our Version

There’s an in-depth version to this, and there’s a quick version. Today, I’ll share the quick version to get you started, and the extended version in our next post. Here it goes:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Slowly stick out your stomach as you take in your air
  3. After the stomach has expanded, then allow your chest to fill up
  4. As you push air through the saxophone, continue to push your stomach out
  5. Basically, always stick out your stomach

How Do Your Organs Feel?

I know, that’s a strange question. However, you’ll notice that this is not a comfortable feeling at first. In fact, it feels as if you’re compressing your organs. But, you’ll begin to notice that notes play easier, the notes are louder, and your tone is improved (if not immediately, in the near future).

Easy To Try

Give this a try for a few days and you’ll notice a difference. If it’s difficult to apply all the time, then practice this new approach by playing a few scales (that you know really well). That way, you’re not worrying about playing something difficult, and you can focus your attention on breath support. Next, play the scale 4-5 times, and then you’re done. Over time, breath support will begin to change into a habit in all aspects of your playing.

Your Version

Do you use a different version of breath support? Is it the same as ours or a little different? Let us know in the comment section. In addition, if you’ve never tried breath support, let us know the results. I’m excited to hear how it changes your tone!

Comments 4

    1. Post
  1. I tried breath support today and it was gr8. Never
    really thought of
    ‘our version’. At first, it felt like am gonna burst but
    my sound
    seemed just perfect. Thanks for your tips Jeff.
    Looking forward to
    more. . . God bless you . . .

    1. Post

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