• I was watching a video on dead air ( stale air, residual air, whatever you want to call it ) and wondered if other players use the method I apply to avoid having dead air issues, and God knows I had plenty of them in the past.

    My method is simple, I keep the tank full to ensure I have good air when I need it. So, no matter how well I know a piece of music, I read each song or piece of music like a road map, before I play, looking for those bars that have notes that take sudden jumps above the staff, or where a series of tied whole notes are called for. Then I go back 2 bars and put a breath mark. It's my warning sign and extra air will be needed, so time to top up, buddy.

    Other than reasons as noted, I don't use breath marks per se. I know when it is time to top up while playing a piece as a whole, but more important to me is the unexpected twist or steep hill ahead.

    I'm not recommending this. I am just stating this is what works best for me.


  • My first action when reviewing a new piece is to determine phrasing and breathing. I enter breath marks, dynamics, slurs and other info (pencil). I ALWAYS prepare this way and practice with everything that I have decided. Only this way does it become habit for me and it relieves my mind during performance of some unnecessary decision making.
    There are occasions when I enter notes to take a "small breath". I need this when I have little time further down to exhale before I fill up. The Bach Christmas Oratorio bass aria #8 "Grosser Herr" is an example of this situation. One could also try to muscle through, I just have had better luck through optimization.


  • The question is not how much "gas you have in the tank", it's how to use your breath to support the musical phrases. Don't look for the best places to take a breath, physically, but musically. You may have to make compromises but when you do, the priority should always be musical first.

  • Qualified Repair Techs

    It’s good to have these habits when you practice. Do it long enough, and you won’t have to think about it anymore! Well over 50% of my gigs are sight reading - in most cases the set is already up when I get there, and there’s not much time to do more than set up my horns and leaf through the titles before I play. Those early good habits like identifying musical phrases, repeats, codes, etc kick into high gear! One of my college teachers used to say that when he sightread he just saw groups of patterns - that really hit me one day when I remembered what he said and realized that I’d been doing it that way too. I was so extra fortunate to have private teachers early on that taught me great habits!
    Wow, I sure miss gigs.......☹😢


  • @flugelgirl said in [reading the road map]

    Wow, I sure miss gigs.......☹😢

    I know how you feel, flugelgirl. Playing with your band mates is okay, but playing for an audience...that's something else altogether and was the reason I picked up the horn in the first place.

    Also, you were fortunate to have those private teachers. I had very little instruction when it came to sight reading. My teacher, a pro trumpet player, concentrated more on playing the instrument.


  • Isn't were to breathe a part of musical expression? If the breath marks are not inserted (and there are no inferred vocal lines in the chart) isn't it fair game to breathe as the artist performing would desire? We too are artists and can paint with or breaths and phrasing.

    To me, a jazz musician, breathing and phrasing is how we express our voice. Now when it comes to a jazz, contemporary, pop, gospel piece, the words behind the notes should dictate the breathing and phrasing. But the artist still has their prerogative to rephrase the sentence toward a fresh presentation.


  • As for the concept of "gas in the tank" if you can use the technique of circular breathing, there is ALWAYS and endless supply of gas in the tank.


  • @ROWUK said in reading the road map:
    ...One could also try to muscle through, I just have had better luck through optimization.

    Do you find that circular breathing can get you through such phrasing without muscling, perhaps smoothing out the flow of the phrase so it does not sound overworked?

  • Qualified Repair Techs

    Many times even as a soloist, you have lines that are meant to be part of the ensemble. Always helps to identify these before you get there! As a sight reading sub, you have to do a fair bit of figuring out how the lead player is going to interpret the line, or as a lead how to best interpret the line so the band can follow you. This becomes particularly important when the band has never met you and you’re reading down the gig!
    @GeorgeB I was fortunate to have teachers who taught me what I needed to know to navigate the professional world, and also the tons of sight reading experience I got in the Navy. There were so many times I got handed a book at the last minute because someone else got sick or something, and always in the back of my mind I was thinking “ Okay, but you guys are just training me not to need you anymore...” 🤣🤣🤣


  • I am preparing for a brass quartet version (Music for Brass arranged by Daniel Kelley)
    of Bach's Little Fugue. Lots of face time - very little opportunity for breathing. I am working on it at a slow tempo to get the notes and intervals under my fingers and ears. But the breathing is equally important. Practicing , I may try to muscle through it. But it is more important to let the music part be the guide -- where are the beginnings and ends of the phrases -- where are you the lead versus the support. Breath in the support - prepare for the lead.


  • fels, you might get a lot out of Sound in Motion by David McGill based on Marcell Tabuteau's and others thoughts on musical expression and phrasing. McGil and Tabuteau's thoughts are very insightful. I'll let the write-up on the book do the speaking. https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Motion-Performers-Greater-Expression/dp/0253219264/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sound+in+motion%2C+david+mcgill&qid=1605928701&sr=8-1


  • @Dr-GO No, I have never needed circular breathing to get me through any particular phrase.
    Most of my gigs are not sight reading, so I do have time to „feed my dependence“ on organisation and preparation.

    When I do sightread (happens with commercial shows that I play), I still use the pencil when looking at the parts before the rehearsal. Potential missed accidentals get marked as well as „special breathing“ or time change situations. During the usual rehearsal, I fill in the rest of the dots.

    This is what I do and teach. It is not a recipe for everyone or other situations. It helps to keep those that book me loyal.


  • @Kehaulani

    Will check it out -- thanks.


  • This is just a slightly off-topic comment, but in general, I'm against circular breathing unless for a special effect. I feel music needs space to emphasize phrasing and without it, it can become monotonous.

    If it's for pre-written music that has no place to breathe, to me, that's on the composer/arranger. It's a WIND instrument.