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What breathing method is used when playing fast?


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I have see some teachers demonstrating how they use their breathing in sync with slow phrasing melodies, like singers. But I have not seen much information about methods of breathing for fast busy piano pieces. And in particular, what method is used when improvising fast jazz piano solos?

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Found this advice:

 

"Breathing is an integral part of piano exercises after all, it's the model for fluid motion where the end of an inhalation is the beginning of an exhalation. When you play the piano think of the music, your body, and your mind as part of this constant, fluid motion.

 

To create the smoothest, most luxurious breathing cycle you can imagine, follow these steps:

 

Stand with your shoulders and arms relaxed at your sides as you develop this slow cycle of inhalation and exhalation.

 

Inhale through your nose slowly and evenly, deeply filling your lungs over a smooth arc of time.

 

Turn the inhalation into an exhalation without holding your breath, like a swimmer reverses direction in a pool, always in motion.

 

Exhale fully, without pushing, and let go of all the air until you're ready to begin another inhalation.

 

As you develop this slow cycle, let all your muscles relax and let go in the same rhythm.

 

Allow the breath to widen your upper body, back, shoulders, and neck so that you feel as if you're loosening and lengthening throughout your body."

 

AMEN!

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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1) Light cigarette

2) Breath in

3) Exhale

Repeat 2) and 3).

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/media/large/d/b/9/4b6a914988e3d08ba2fbdb2665442.jpg

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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I just shared this link in another thread. This book Comtemporary Piano Technique

 

It's a book about Madame Chaloff teaching concepts. The best part of book is the DVD showing how to practice the examples. Proper breathing is a part of the idea.

 

I've procrastinated after a couple of weeks, when I first bought the book, but I think about the concept sometimes when I practice.

AvantGrand N2 | ES520 | Gallien-Krueger MK & MP | https://soundcloud.com/pete36251

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When I play fast, I find that the most important thing is *to know where I'm going*. I mean, what notes I'm going to play, what is my 'target', and at what point in time I plan to reach it. If I have this path clear in my head, I find that usually, my entire metabolism gets ready for the goal, including arm movements and other things, including of course breathing. I don't like to have a ritual of any kind when preparing to play, because every day I feel different. The only constant thing is concentration - but in order to achieve it, sometimes I need a certain attitude, like relaxing, and sometimes I need something else, like getting a bit tight if I'm *too* relaxed! :D

So I think the only rule is to know yourself. I've played for so long, and reflected on the playing process so much, that I think I've reached a level where my instict tells me what I need. I *am* rationalizing to be sure; I just don't need so much preparation as I used to.

 

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I just shared this link in another thread. This book Comtemporary Piano Technique

 

It's a book about Madame Chaloff teaching concepts. The best part of book is the DVD showing how to practice the examples. Proper breathing is a part of the idea.

 

I've procrastinated after a couple of weeks, when I first bought the book, but I think about the concept sometimes when I practice.

 

What does her book say about fast passages? I am doing a lot of 4-5 hour solo piano gigs and I realize I need better breathing tech. I think breathing like a swimmer (see my post above) is a good comparison for marathon like piano playing.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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I just shared this link in another thread. This book Comtemporary Piano Technique

 

It's a book about Madame Chaloff teaching concepts. The best part of book is the DVD showing how to practice the examples. Proper breathing is a part of the idea.

 

I've procrastinated after a couple of weeks, when I first bought the book, but I think about the concept sometimes when I practice.

 

What does her book say about fast passages? I am doing a lot of 4-5 hour solo piano gigs and I realize I need better breathing tech. I think breathing like a swimmer (see my post above) is a good comparison for marathon like piano playing.

 

The book isn't written in chapters (ie - breathing while playing fast.) Here is someone talking about book. Review emphasizing the breathing section

AvantGrand N2 | ES520 | Gallien-Krueger MK & MP | https://soundcloud.com/pete36251

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That's a damned good question. I asked a drummer I was playing with kind of a long time ago about very fast tempi, and keeping it together -- he kept his strategies close to the vest. I assume it was that he thought I was such an awesome player I was joking with him, trying to trick him.

 

Yeah, I don't know.

 

How many ways *are* there to breath, anyway? Besides remembering to, that is. I guess I don't think about it, but I haven't been over 250 bpm in a long time.

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"Back in the rehearsal room on Boylston Street, jazz pianist Kenny Werner is working with an acoustic bassist. He takes the instrument and tells the student to stare straight ahead, over the heads of the class. Pick a spot on the wall. Stare at it. Now just follow your breathing. You dont have to exaggerate your breathing, just notice that youre breathing. Then Werner returns the bass to the student and asks him to play a single note, then another. Dont help it! Another note.

 

Over the next 90 minutes, Werner works with another half dozen students a couple of pianists, a trumpet player, a drummer, a singer. He guides them through the process breathing, gradually making a sound on the instrument, and then a note, stopping them whenever he feels theyve become self-conscious.

 

You feel that? hell ask. He wants them to find that space, one that will become familiar over time, that theyll recognize. Finding the space is just the first step in Werners method, which will eventually lead to more conscious practice and performance techniques.

 

Werner himself came to the concept of effortless mastery through his studies with Newtons legendary Margaret Chaloff Madame Chaloff, as she was known and, several years later, the Brazilian concert pianist João Assis Brasil. Werner had been a piano prodigy, but undisciplined and somewhat frantic in his practice regimen. Both Chaloff and Brasil recommended breaking performance down into repeated simple movements. In Effortless Mastery, Werner describes Brasil getting him to practice two notes thumb and pinky finger for two weeks.

 

Werner is careful to distinguish his program from meditation or spiritual guidance. You didnt come to Berklee to be a Brahman priest or something, Werner tells his class. You came here to be the baddest player you can be. But, paradoxically, wanting to play well is whats blocking you.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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http://www.eyeeco.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/sleepapnea.jpg

This should make breathing easier when playing fast passages and throughout the gig. :laugh::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I await any thoughts from Dave Ferris on solo piano marathons for noisy corporate parties and optimized breathing for such often strenuous situations :)

 

 

Let me try again:

I play a lot of 3-5 hour solo piano gigs at noisy corporate dinner parties and weddings on stiff pianos. I suspect I don't breath well enough, I am often singing under my breath. Of course I suffer from aching wrists shoulders and neck from such lengthy performance at age 57. I have heard some classical piano teachers say to breath across each phrase. I think that approach is quite wrong in these situations. It robs me of steady air intake in my exhausting piano marathon line of work.

 

I think this is a better idea:

 

1. Inhale through your nose slowly and evenly, deeply filling your lungs over a smooth arc of time.

 

2. Turn the inhalation into an exhalation without holding your breath, like a swimmer reverses direction in a pool, always in motion.

 

3. Exhale fully, without pushing, and let go of all the air until you're ready to begin another inhalation.

 

4. As you develop this slow cycle, let all your muscles relax and let go in the same rhythm.

 

5. Allow the breath to widen your upper body, back, shoulders, and neck so that you feel as if you're loosening and lengthening throughout your body.

 

What do you think???

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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I like that idea. I did some breath training with theatre and choral stuff. You could do some breathing exercises before playing, like doing short "tss" sounds with rapid exhalations, or taking deep breaths while lying on your back, knees bent and feet flat, feeling your stomach rise as your diaphragm expands. The more conscious you are of the mechanics of your breath, the more you can control them.

 

Unrelated to this, a teacher recently told a friend of mine to breath in time, say in for a bar, out for a bar, very deliberately. It's very hard, and I think more conceptual than practical.

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If you play and sing I think the problem is not there, singing automatically forces you to synchronize the breathing with the music.

 

As for solo piano situations, for me the single all-important advice is: RELAX YOUR SHOULDERS!!!!!

I have a tendency to play with tension in my shoulders, when I focus on that and I'm able to relax, I notice that everything else -arms, wrists, hands, fingers, AND breathing- follows, everything is automatically more fluid.

 

Plus, I don't have neck pain the day after.

;)

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Master Your Breathing to Perform Better

The Editors June 5, 2013

 

Overview

 

Breathing is a key ingredient to human function and performance. Its a human reflex were born with and its attached to our nervous system, which has an input and an output. If you have poor breathing patterns (input), youll have poor motor output, which can result in muscle compensations and even possible overuse injuries. Breathing plays a role in optimal nervous system function, proper motor function, relaxation, focus, and efficiency.

 

There are typically two types of breathers:

 

Diaphragmatic breathers This is the most reflexive and natural way. We want to be good diaphragmatic breathers. In general, the rib cage should expand in a 3D pattern, top to bottom, back to front, and to the sides.

Apical breathers Apical breathing or upper chest breathing can be caused by a variety of issues, including smoking, stress, poor posture, or asthma.

Mouth vs. Nose Breathing

 

Dr. Roy Sugarman, director of applied neuroscience for Athletes' Performance, says nose breathing has a range of performance benefits. Breathing through your nasal passage can increase CO2 saturation in the blood and slow down your breathingboth of which create a calming effect, he says. It also helps warm air before it hits your lungs during cold weather workouts.

 

Dr. Sugarman says that mouth breathing is associated with a host of health problems and should be avoided as best as possible. His advice is to keep the nose and sinuses healthy and the septum straightnot so easy for athletes in sports where a sudden, sideways nose-shift is common. This helps overall performance and, more importantly, helps speed up the recovery process.

 

Breathing Tips for Sports

 

Running There isnt one best breathing pattern for running. For many its a 2:2 ratio (two steps breathe in, two steps breathe out). For others its 3:1. Aim for a rhythmic pattern to help your body relax and improve your bodys efficiency. Sporadic breathing makes it more difficult.

 

Cycling

 

Cyclists tend to be good belly breathers because their posture on the bike limits their ability to use their chest. Similar to running, relaxed and rhythmic breathing is the goal during peddling. For instance, inhale for two pedal strokes, hold for two pedal strokes, then exhale for four pedal strokes.

 

High-Impact Sports

 

For high-impact sports, like tennis, inhale while preparing for a shot or intense action and exhale through execution to maximize stiffness and power.

 

High-Contact Sports

 

During high-contract sports, hold your breath if you know youre going to take a hit. If youre delivering the blow, exhale through contact.

 

Swimming

 

Al Lee and Don Campbell, co-authors of Perfect Breathing, devised a drill called performance breathing for endurance sports like swimming that involves a repetitive motion. Its designed to help you find that sweet spot where the energy coming in balances the energy expended, and you feel that tireless high so many athletes strive for. Heres how to do it: inhale through the nose for two seconds, hold for 2 seconds, and exhale through the nose for 4 seconds.

 

Yoga

 

In yoga, there are many different types of breathing patternsnot just one yoga belly breath. These breathing patterns are called pranyama, an ancient Indian practice that basically means regulation of breath. Like meditation, breathing helps relax your tissues and calm the nervous system. Often people will hold their breath because a pose is too painful. If youre holding your breath, youre being too aggressive. You want an equal in and out style of breathing. For more on improving your performance through breathing, click here.

 

Breathing Under Pressure

 

Whenever were threatened, the bodys fight-or-flight response kicks in. This mechanism instinctively prepares us to either run or rumble. Heart rate quickens in order to pump blood where its needed most, at the same time that blood is drawn away from extremities as a protection against injury. It's simultaneously invigorating and debilitating. Rational thought is replaced by caveman impulse.

 

Research shows that there are two pathways to the brain, explains Lee. One is for rational or attentional thought, while the other is for emotions. The two pathways are inversely related. So when your emotions start heating up, your ability to think rationally diminishes. Thats why you have crimes of passion or road rage.

 

The key to retaining control in these situations is, as Lee explains, to focus on an attentional task that brings down the emotional side and lets you be more objective. And researchers have found that breathing does this best.

 

Heres how to perform what Lee calls pressure breathing:

 

Exhale

Inhale through your nose for 3 seconds.

Purse your lips and exhale, while letting your cheeks inflate. Draw the exhalation out to a count of 10 or however long you can. Try to get every last bit of air out of your lungs.

Repeat until youve settled down.

What that long exhalation forces you to do is breathe. You have no choice. The inhalation becomes an automatic, life-preserving response. This corrects the tendency to take very short, shallow breaths when were scared or having a panic attack. The pursed-lips trick, according to Lee, puts pressure on the vagus nerve at the back of the throat, which triggers many anxious symptoms. For more tips to stay calm under pressure, read Breathing Bootcamp.

 

Breathe Yourself to Sleep

 

Having trouble falling asleep? Its actually possible to breathe yourself to sleepin just 5 minutes or less. Although breathing may seem like an unconscious mechanism, its entirely controllable and, once tamed, can influence heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, hormone production, stress levels, and many other bodily functions.

 

The breath is the common denominator in everything we do, says Lee. It touches every dimension of life. It directly and dramatically affects your health, your ability to heal, your emotions, your physical performance, your creativity, and its used by every spiritual tradition to help achieve deeper states of prayer, meditation and contemplation.

 

And it can settle you enough to put you to sleep. Try this exercise next time you find it difficult to drift away:

 

Inhale through the nose for a count of 6.

Hold for a count of 3.

Exhale through the nose for a count of 6.

Hold for a count of 3.

Repeat this series four more times.

Next, inhale through the nose for a count of 6.

Exhale through the nose for a count of 6.

Repeat this series four more times.

Or you can follow Lees advice and simply become more mindful of your breath as you lie in bed. Instead of trying to alter your breathing, just become conscious of it, he says. Doing so pulls your monkey mind out of its jungle and focuses it on one thing (your breathing), which is often enough to put it to rest.

 

It brings you back to the present moment, explains Don Campbell, the other half of the Perfect Breathing team. Theres no way you can think about yesterday or tomorrow when youre concentrating on your next breath. Doing so immediately starts ramping down your entire metabolism.

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

Alex Lowen writes:

"It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs alone, but in point of fact, the work of breathing is done by the whole body. The lungs play a passive role in the respiratory process. Their expansion is produced by an enlargement, mostly downward, of the thoracic cavity and they collapse when that cavity is reduced. Proper breathing involves the muscles of the head, neck, thorax, and abdomen. It can be shown that chronic tension in any part of the body's musculature interferes with the natural respiratory movements."

 

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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I have to admit that, although some of you (and Kenny Werner) seem to take this very seriously, and I DO teach breathing to my wind and choral students, not once in 46 years of playing piano have I ever thought about my breathing except when I've just finished a ripping version of Jr. Walker's "Shotgun" on my sax and have to sit down and sing the next tune. And then only to catch my breath.

Want to play faster? I recommend this:

http://www.free-scores.com/IMG/free-scores-admin/free-scores-admin_20100510105636.jpg

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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Just anecdotally (with no supporting theory or doctrine to espouse), I've found that having just got off a two-week tour (I've played something like 14 gigs in the last 16 days), I'm more relaxed playing than I have ever been.

 

This translates from jazz to funk to rock to church to holiday music to everything. I'm smoother, faster, and hearing clearer than I ever have.

 

One result - my hands are much softer and more relaxed in playing. So touch, velocity and space are all increased.

 

Another result (as applies to this thread) - much more relaxed, even breathing during fast passages.

 

I seem to be seeing and hearing everything in bigger chunks, and so I'm more relaxed, and my breathing reflects that.

 

For whatever it's worth.

..
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Well, sure, Lonnie, breathing isn't the magic key to playing faster, but it certainly can help in controlling and navigating those passages. Proper breathing is a skill, just like any other of the many skills it takes to be a pro. Sure, no one should be thinking about their breathing on stage, but that's because it should be a learned skill. Some people may be naturally predisposed, but some of us have to practice it to get it right. YMMV. :):wave:
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Sheesh, I never think about breathing when playing. Maybe I should be.

 

It reminds me of a golfing partner who liked to ask opponents in a game if they "inhaled or exhaled" during their golf swing. Impossible not to think about it as you stood lining up the next shot.

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It reminds me of a golfing partner who liked to ask opponents in a game if they "inhaled or exhaled" during their golf swing. Impossible not to think about it as you stood lining up the next shot.

Exactly his or her intention, of course. All that stuff about competing only against yourself when you play golf is a lot of malarkey.

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It reminds me of a golfing partner who liked to ask opponents in a game if they "inhaled or exhaled" during their golf swing. Impossible not to think about it as you stood lining up the next shot.

Exactly his or her intention, of course. All that stuff about competing only against yourself when you play golf is a lot of malarkey.

What do you mean? The golfing partner made the other golfers compete against themselves!

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I don't think about breathing. I had teachers who taught me to sing to develop phrasing. The one esoterical thing I do occasionally think about when trying play fast is to keep the palms (the belly of the hand) relaxed. But I'm old and don't think about that much either unless I'm having a problem.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

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So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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