Circular breathing

Circular breathing is a special technique utilized primarily by players of the didgeridoo (and some other wind instruments) in order to continuously blow air out of the mouth. Many jazz musicians utilize some form of circular breathing. For example, Kenny G, who held the world record for holding a single note (E) for 45 minutes and 47 seconds on his soprano saxophone.

The basic method is as follows:

The person inhales fully and begins to blow. Once the lungs are nearly empty, the last volume of air is blown into the mouth, and the cheeks are inflated with this air. Then, while still blowing this last bit of air out by allowing the cheeks to deflate, the person must very quickly fill the lungs by inhaling through the nose prior to running out of the air in the mouth. If done correctly, by the time the air in the mouth is nearly exhausted the person can begin to exhale from the lungs once more, ready to repeat the process again. Physiologically, the process is similar to drinking at a water fountain and taking a breath of air while water remains in the mouth, without raising the head from the water stream. The body "knows" to not allow water into the lungs. It is this same instinct that a circular breather taps to play their instrument.

Rehearsing circular breathing

The following steps can be used to learn the first steps of circular breathing:

  1. Fill your cheeks with air. Breath in and out through your nose.
  2. While your cheeks are still filled with air, slowly squeeze out the air by pushing the cheeks by your fingers. Keep breathing through your nose.
  3. In a similar fashion, try to slowly squeeze out the air without your fingers using your cheek muscles only.

Repeat each step until you master them with ease.

To improve your skills, a common practice technique by didgeridoo players requires the use of a partially full glass or cup of water and a straw. In a nutshell, simply try to continuously blow bubbles into the glass. The liquid helps to simulate the backpressure of an actual instrument. Using water also helps overcome the psychological blockage to circular breathing, as the body will instinctively try to avoid breathing water. Because the glass is not full to the brim, water will not spill over and make a mess. This technique also helps to build up strength in the necessary muscles.

External link

fi:Kiertoilmahengitys fr:Respiration circulaire it:Respirazione circolare nl:Circulaire ademhaling ru:Техника непрерывного дыхания


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