Re: Tonguing

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Posted by Sean Chisham on January 20, 1999 at 11:03:04:

In Reply to: Tonguing posted by Greg Fishel on January 20, 1999 at 10:06:27:

It doesn't sound like a tongue problem. It sounds more like an air starvation problem which you are attempting to compensate for with increased air pressure. Your tongue and embouchure may be in survival mode in an attempt to compensate for a lack or quality air.

To get a feeling of what can happen when full and relaxed breathing is used, try running up and down some stairs or jog for a few minutes until you begin to breathe a bit more heavily. Now sit down with your horn, take a massive quiet inhalation and play an easy melody. The results will probably not include the "spitting sound" you mentioned. By raising you metabolism for a few minutes, your body will require more oxygen/CO2 exchanges. This translates into deeper breathing. Tapping into this natural process allows you to get a glimpse of a possible better way.

To survive, we humans don't need to take full breaths at rest. When sitting down reading a book you may take 1/5-1/2 of a full breath and be perfectly comfortable. Since this shallow breathing is how we spend the majority of our life it is easy to continue the habit when attempting to play a wind instrument. The tuba however requires more massive and deeper breathing than mere survival dictates. The maximum amount of air you retain in your lungs at the height of a normal every day inhalation is somewhere near the minimum air which you should retain in your lungs during playing. Try to suck in enough air at each inhalation to bring to lungs to 4/5-5/5 of their total vital capacity each time you breath while playing. While sitting on a couch watching TV, feel free to only use the bottom 1/5-2/5's of your vital capacity.


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