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Poorly matched equipment to the player will always be a hindrance. But the equipment issue is the least of the problems here. It's about air support and bracing your gut to get more economy from your air stream, and ultimately, a better tone.

The experiment is easy. You can do it while you're sitting at your computer. Pretend you're holding your horn and without doing anything to your stomach muscles, blow out like you would play an extended note. Doesn't last long, does it? Now brace your gut as if you're about to get punched and try again. Voila. See the difference?
Wow! That's a cool way to describe it. I have never heard that one before. I'm gonna use that!! Thanks!
 

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Wow! That's a cool way to describe it. I have never heard that one before. I'm gonna use that!! Thanks!
Glad to be of service. I actually came up with that experiment on the fly as I was trying to put into words here what my experiences have taught me. But I used to brace my gut to be punched all the time in my macho days of yore, a la the Houdini challenges I would submit myself to endure. So although when I was very young and this was taught to me to improve my air support, I found it very awkward to do. Now... just trying the experiment above, pretending to blow through a horn without bracing my gut, is what seems unnatural to me. It is how I conditioned myself to play, and is probably a lesson some may never have had; especially those who are self-taught.
 

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The best description of playing with "breath support" was told to me by a university tuba instructor. He said he tears an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper in half and has his student walk up to a mirror or window and hold the paper against the glass with his finger. He then instructs the student to blow and release his finger at the same time holding the paper up as long as possible with the airstream. I related this to a french horn teacher one time and she said she uses a "phone book" with her students. I thought she was putting me on until she explained she opens the book on a table and has the student blow directing their airstream from the side to see how many pages they can turn. This is why I prefer "pressurized air" over the term "breath support".

I watched a trumpet teacher one time do a demonstration of what Grumps is suggesting by lying on the floor and having a large student stand on his stomach as he played "The Carnival of Venice". It was funny to watch how he lifted the kid higher every time he played an accent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Glad to be of service. I actually came up with that experiment on the fly as I was trying to put into words here what my experiences have taught me. But I used to brace my gut to be punched all the time in my macho days of yore, a la the Houdini challenges I would submit myself to endure. So although when I was very young and this was taught to me to improve my air support, I found it very awkward to do. Now... just trying the experiment above, pretending to blow through a horn without bracing my gut, is what seems unnatural to me. It is how I conditioned myself to play, and is probably a lesson some may never have had; especially those who are self-taught.
I'm convinced! Now, I just have to learn to do it! Thanks Grumps, your graphics make it something everyone can actually try, and see for themselves. You're a great teacher!
I would imagine this technique also helps to keep your embouchure relaxed?
 

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Expressed but not as well as Grumps here's the introduction to saxophone from US Army field band. At :25.00 air control is reviewed.
 

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I would imagine this technique also helps to keep your embouchure relaxed?
Tight, relaxed... however you care to play; as a tighter lip may be needed for let's say soprano as compared to tenor and everybody's equipment and style varies in this regard.

When you don't support your air stream in the manner described, you're more focused on rushing air through the horn to just play the notes. As you get used to playing with added support from your gut and getting better economy from your air stream, you'll better be able to craft your own, unique sound, as well as imitate the tone of others you may wish to emulate.

And thank you for the kind words. Though not a teacher, I just try to share what helps me and express it in the most concise, and easily understood manner I can describe for others.
 

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I reference to running out of air with two horns that are leak free, I suggest you check for two things: spring tensions on particularly palm keys and top keys above upper stack keys! Then, check the timing of both stacks!
I believe you may find out the cause of this mystery!.......
 
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