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I play tenor, and I've always had trouble with tone and intonation on high notes (around middle A and up). For a long time I used to bite down on these notes, even though I knew it was a bad habit. I've weaned myself off the biting habit recently and I understand how to get air support from the diaphragm and chest, but I can't sustain it for very long. Especially playing long phrases that end on a high note, by the end of the phrase I often run out of air. Part of the problem is that I have a mild case of pectus excavatum (chest slightly sunken in), which means I can't fully expand my lungs. I practice long tones and overtones regularly, and they definitely help. What are some other exercises I can try?
 

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Put a 5 or 10 pound lead weight over your belly button when lying on your back. Breathe in using your stomach to lift the weight. Breathe in fast as you can...let it out slowly restricting the airflow a lot..just a wee gap over your tongue.

5 minutes a day.....every day. That will get you a stronger diaphragm.
 

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Put a 5 or 10 pound lead weight over your belly button when lying on your back. Breathe in using your stomach to lift the weight. Breathe in fast as you can...let it out slowly restricting the airflow a lot..just a wee gap over your tongue.

5 minutes a day.....every day. That will get you a stronger diaphragm.
If you have weak cellular connective tissue this exercise could lead to a umbilical hernia. As a teacher i would not recommend weights heavier than a book.
 

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I've found my problems in this area are a combination of support and confidence of being in tune, some things I do:
-drones
-melodies in the upper range, check out Joe Henderson doing Chelsea bridge
- 1,3,5 arpeggios ascending and descending in semitones, GBD, AbCEb, ACE etc right up to BD#F# and down again. This one is good because building a chord locks in the sound which brings confidence in intonation and eventually, resonance

HTH
 

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If you have weak cellular connective tissue this exercise could lead to a umbilical hernia. As a teacher i would not recommend weights heavier than a book.
Excellent advice...start with a smallish book and work up. I forgot to factor in the modern human thing. Thanks
 

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There are lots of 'breath building' exercises out there that you can try. Most of them don't work. Placing a book on your belly will not strengthen your 'diaphragm'. It will, however, strengthen your abdominal muscles. Strong belly muscles will help with breath control.
I would suggest the simple long tone. Take a good deep breath, choose your favorite note, and focus on regulating your air stream. You don't need to < > at first. Just hold the note for as long as you can.
A 'slight' case of Pectus Excavatum shouldn't be causing that much difficulty. I should get you in touch with a young man in my area that played bari sax all through middle and high school. He has only 1 lung and could play 8 bar phrases with ease.
If he could do this on bari, you should have little to no trouble doing it on tenor. :)
 

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The best breath building exercise I ever did was being a SCUBA instructor. Lots of energetic swimming around underwater herding cats, fast inhale, hold til you need to breathe and then slow exhale.
 

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Long tones is the answer.

But I find holding out a low note (low C, B, Bb) takes a lot more air than the high notes. So if you're running out of air on high notes, then you definitely need some long tone practice.
 

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You should not run out of air up high. Something is not right. You might already know this stuff but just in case make sure your embouchure looks like this as you play.

 

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Try to play the low register with the octave key on. That really makes the breath support to happen.
Think the low register while playing the high. Keep your throat open and use warmest air to the upper register.
 

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Overtones is (are?) the key to great tone and efficient air use, as well as good upper range and altissimo. Just don't cheat by tightening your embouchure, but use good voicing (throat and tongue) to get the overtones to speak.
 

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Definitely overtones, done correctly, as noted by others. Make them sound beautiful, too. Don't fight the natural tunings either; they are what they are.

The best thing about getting the top notes to sing is what it does for the rest of the horn. :)
 
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