Stale air

  • I'm playing Rachmaninoff's Vocalise again this year, this time for Good Friday. I've asked about this before on the other forum, but I'm aging and can't remember what some of you kind folks replied. I can play it acceptably, I feel, but "stale air" seems to be a continuing problem. I deliberately try not to over breathe for a phrase, but find myself using at least one of my breath marks for an exhale instead of a breath. This is happening when I'm as "calm as a cucumber", and, of course there'll be some level of nerves when I perform, but I am definitely improving in the performance anxiety department.

    To make matters worse, our "Music Director" (the quotation marks are deliberate - I've also gritched about him before on the other forum), has one style of playing - loud and perpetually slower. I have searched my soul to have a forgiving attitude towards this, obviously, ADD and egocentric odd fellow, but I'm slightly worried I might flog him...on Good front of my fellow church members. He just about doubles my anxiety. I was a Music Major many, many moons ago and I've played with several accompanists. This guy has no ability to actually follow a soloist.

    So far, all I've come up with on my own is to focus on the music, don't over breathe, try to "hold" the breath in my gut, not my upper chest, and to try and take a "cleansing breath" before WE begin, but this guy likes to "jump the gate". A pro friend of mine has reminded me to fight the urge to match the accompanist's volume.

    Any other suggestions from my experienced friends on here? (So far, although imperfect, I think I have PRAYER covered. )


  • "Any other suggestions from my experienced friends on here?" Yeah - why do it? I'm serious. Why are you doing it? If it's that much of a problem, I'd just tell the guy to pound sand. You know a play on words: "Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me."

  • I went for months telling myself that I was done. But, the honest answer to your question is because I don't do enough otherwise for my church. He, the "Music Director", asked. And, after thinking about it, I told him I would. And I do what I say I'm going to do.

    I posted this for two reasons.

    1. The stale air thing is kicking my butt and I really try hard to analyze problems, dissect them, and try to practice my way out of it. 'Pretty sure that's a fairly practical approach to practicing.
    2. I read just now in the lounge, under "We're off to a good start!" that the more interesting threads were started by "someone looking for help or guidance," so I decided to try and prime the pump, so to speak.

    So your initial help and guidance is the implied "You're a dumbazz". Very helpful and inspirational.

    I'm out.

  • Sing the phrases you are playing and experience the breathing you are doing with signing the passage. Do this singing until you achieve this with the required air to make it to end of the phrases that when playing gave you stale air. Do it over and over again and celebrate the efficiency. Once this is achieved, take it back to the horn and now sing the same breathing phrases in through the horn. The horn is an extension of the voice is a key concept here.

  • Thank you Doctor. I appreciate the help. I will definitely try it the next time I'm preparing a piece.

  • What instrument is the director playing ? It seems to me a trumpet indoors should be able to keep up, volume-wise, with anything not amplified to 11. Even what we used to call a "rock crusher" when I was in the pipe organ business, a trumpet should still cut through.

    The director's musical style/sense may or may not be so great, but they are the director and it is apparently what the congregation has come to expect/accept.

  • Wow, another exceptionally helpful comment.

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