WindWorks Trumpet Academy Forums WindWorks Holding Back the Air

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    • #71143

      Hello fellow travelers, I’m new to the program, just familiarizing myself with the forum and thought I’d add a question based on the videos and work I’ve done so far. After a good backswing, the execution of holding back the air with the tongue and releasing in staccato bursts without engagement is simple, but I just realized you can do the same without using the tongue whatsoever, i.e. I can do a good intake of air, stop if from releasing, and still move my tongue around freely, which means the air is being held back further upstream. Not sure if it’s with the larynx or vocal cords or elsewhere. That being said, is this a distinction without a difference, or should I be focusing more specifically on placing the air directly behind the tongue? Or is it truly all one mechanic that involves the tongue and throat working together?


    • #71148

      Hi there,

      My understanding is you want to avoid what you’re describing, you want to free the air such that the only thing holding it from escaping is the tongue sealing the opening by touching the back of your teeth/roof of your mouth.

      It sounds to me that you have identified that there is tension elsewhere in your body that is holding in the air.

      That additional tension will reduce the resonance, make things less efficient, etc.

      The throat should just stay open and relaxed.

    • #71165

      After a good inhale there are (to my mind) three ways to prevent the air from out.
      1) By using the middle part of the tongue to create a seal (as taught in the course)
      2) Use the very back of the tongue to create a seal (which is often mistaken for closing the throat)
      3) By continuing to engage the inhale muscles.

      Number 1 is what is taught and should be developed.
      Number 2 should be avoided at all costs.
      Number 3 should be treated with caution, has limited use, but can be used safely in certain situations.

      Also a combination of 1 and 3 can used, particularly in soft delicate attacks.

      Hope this is helpful. Remember, does it sound good? does it feel good? That’ll be your guide.

    • #71183

      So I have been doing the back-swing, taking a relaxed breath in, relaxed all the way to my lower abdomen – I find that I can hold that relaxed inhale without the urge to push air out and have my throat totally relaxed but had to really work hard at relaxing as the tongue come into position – as soon as my tongue comes up tension triggers and I go from singer mode into choker mode.

      I managed to get to the point now where I have a relaxed breath in, and gently relaxed movement of my tongue into position but do not feel that the tongue is holding back anything. I practice this so many times a day – just using the mmm–ahhhh-ooooh, then on the visualizer and then with the mouthpiece.

      It’s highly likely that the tongue is sealing off the airflow but it does not feel that way to me, to my mind if I feel a sensation of ‘holding in’ that indicates tension (which I want to get rid of) – just did the execise now to confirm – although my tongue stops the air flow – it’s so relaxed now I don’t think about it as sealing off anything or acting like a valve.

      So what also helped me was to use the breathing bag to just take air in and turn it around – many times until I could found it totally relaxing (paying attention to dropping my tongue into a relaxed state)

      Hope this helps and if anyone has anything to add that might help me please jump in 🙂 (I need all the help I can get)

    • #71192

      Hope my experience and struggles help
      Without the instrument.
      I find it is a very natural reaction to take a good intake of air and then if I pause it at the top of the breath and leave my mouth open it is the throat that is closing. You can push against it and engage the chest.
      find and explore gently.
      This is what we are trying to eliminate!!!

      try a good breath in and breath out without pausing ( no throat clamping)

      then try stoping flow with the tongue or lips and explore the feeling and see how the throat feels.
      very easy to engage it and control flow with the throat

      hope this helps. I am no expert and still struggle with this on each new higher note.
      Keep at it and enjoy experimenting

    • #71276

      While Greg’s use of a balloon is beneficial to model the effect of chest expansion on the establishment of positive air pressure (relative to atmospheric pressure), a balloon is not the chest wall- meaning there is intercostal (between the ribs) musculature which enables the expansion of the rib cage when those muscles are activated. If those muscles remain active/ contracted then the chest will remain expanded and no air will move either in or out. It is thus possible to have a lowered tongue and open throat (concert hall breath) and no air movement. Think about a breath attack… it is consciously controlled relaxation of the intercostal muscles with open throat and lowered tongue!

      • #71277

        That is very helpful – I also found that relaxing the intercostal too quickly causes a rush of air that gets trapped behind the lips and the pressure triggering a tightening reaction – I can work with the concept of controlled relaxation – thanks

    • #71318

      Very interesting, helpful! Thank you both, I hadn’t thought about exhaling that much but you’re right, we can release the air but it won’t go anywhere as much unless we relax the intercostal muscles. I suppose I tend to think of things in a somewhat linear way (black/white, on/off) at times, but reality is more complex, nuanced.

    • #72642

      All good advice here. As a relative newcomer myself, Greg recognised immediately in my first or second lesson that I was using my throat to control the air flow and not “letting go”. I have struggled to get my modified K tonguing sorted out with the new lower jaw position. Greg asked me to simply inhale and then stop the air with my tongue sticking out between my lips. The simplicity of this action means I feel all the air pile up at the tip of the tongue with the throat hopefully open. Not pretty but it really works to allow that very simple free feeling of keeping the throat open. I use this now with the tissue and largo exercises.

    • #73769
      Greg Spence

      Hi guys, here is a really important reply to the issues raised.

      • #73832

        Hi Greg,
        Thanks for the video post – while I was watching that I followed along and found the exercise of deliberately closing the throat to compare that with an open feeling very helpful. I have been approaching the situation focusing only on what the desired behaviour should be and trying to ignore the negative habits – but having experienced how bad closing up feels I now better understand what I want to feel with an open and relaxed body and how good that feels compared to the bad feeling. This was very very helpful.

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