More Breath Support!


Is the term “Breath Support” still confusing? Last week our post provided a condensed version of how to apply breath support. It was a chance to give it a quick try. This week we’ll go over this topic in greater detail. I’m confident your tone will improve even more!

How Do You Breath?

Every day we breath. As we breath, are chest expands. This is fine for everyday breathing, but it doesn’t work well for breath support. We must do things a little differently.

A Barrel of Water

Imagine that you’re filling up a barrel with water. Where does the water go? I know that’s a ridiculous question; we know it goes to the bottom and then it works its way to the top. What if the water went directly to the top, and the bottom of the barrel was empty? The barrel wouldn’t hold much water.

The Barrel and Breath Support

In this example, the barrel represent your torso, or upper body.  The water in the barrel represents your air. When we breath, are chest expands and contracts as we use our lungs.  It’s as if we’re filling up the top of the barrel only. We’re not using the bottom of the barrel at all. We’re wasting a lot of space. Instead, we need to fill up the bottom of the barrel first. This is what correct breath support accomplishes.

Fill Up The Bottom First

Last week our quick version described breath support as sticking out the stomach- always. When we stick out our stomach, it’s as if we’re filling up the bottom of the barrel first. We’re using the full capacity of the barrel. This approach is more effective and produces better results.

If we think of breath support like this, we begin to understand a few points. First, we begin to understand why we don’t apply breath support naturally. And second, we begin to understand why it feels weird in our first attempts. If we fill up the top of the barrel ever day of our life, it’s going to feel strange when we change that.


Any attempt to take water out of a barrel, the same result will occur. The empty section of the barrel will remain on the top. This is exactly how we should exhale. As you exhale, continually stick out your stomach. The “barrel” will empty from the top, and then the bottom. Watch your upper body as you try this. The chest cavity will lower and then your stomach will begin to compress as you exhale. The latter will occur even when you’re sticking out your stomach.

The Step by Step Process

Next week I’ll share a step by step process for breath support.  I’ll get into more detail about how to inhale and exhale. Until then, think of our barrel analogy. Apply it to our quick version of breath support (under the section Our Version) from last week’s post and see what happens. I’m confident it will make a difference.

I’m Curious

What did you think of the barrel analogy? I’m constantly providing feedback to students on their playing. Today, I would love to hear some feedback from you. What did you think? You can also let me know if there are other topics you would like me to write about. Please share in the comment section. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Comments 7

    1. Post

      Absolutely Shorty! Vocalists have a great concept of breath support. Some vocal teachers begin teaching this from day 1! If you’re already comfortable with this technique, you can apply it to the saxophone, right away.

    1. Post

      Hi Linford. Next week’s post will finish up our breath support series. Until then, do you have any specific questions you would like answered?

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *