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Discussion Starter #1
Im trying to learn to circular breath. Im 13 yrs old and play a cannonball tenor sax, so my cheeks are a lot less smaller than most of yours. I can do the circular breathing thing on the glass of water but on my saxophone whenever i try it, it just stops making a sound. So yah...is it possible...or is there a special way...
 

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Yeah, if you want to do it to impress your friends and stuff, it wears off really quickly (personal experience ;D )
 

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I disagree with 2 of the above posters who imply that it is not very useful, to put it mildly.
I 'got it' when I was about your age (one year after having started playing). Not as easy to get on tenor than on alto, but I used it on tenor a lot (mostly for fun) during band practice.
Try on the upper octave first. The size of your cheeks have little to do with it on the sax, it's not a trumpet. It's not necessary to use your cheeks much. The way I do it most of my air reserve is under the upper lip, not on the sides of the mouth.
Practicing with a glass is not very helpful IMHO, you have to "get it" in a mouthpiece situation. Maybe practice with mpc+neck.
As you become more at ease you'll be able to expand the range of notes from upper octave downwards.


The other day my wife went to a concert and the clarinettist (Alexander Fiterstein) was using it all the time (had very very fast passages to perform).
My view on circular breathing is that if you know the technique and master it on a good range of notes it'll be one more tool in your toolkit... that may come handy at some point (very very long notes to hold, trill, etc). And in these situations you'll have an edge over those who don't master it or those who consider it as an oddity and/or haven't really tried hard at it (as various comments in other threads on the subject suggest -- do a search, man!).

Good luck! I commend you for trying and getting interested in this technique!
 

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I mean, at this level and age, there's usually no real use for it. Yeah, but if you really want to learn, try the notes above g2, and like AhCheung said, try with the mpc+neck, or just the mpc. It also helps if your mouthpiece is more resistant and has a smaller tip. I just went and tried circular breathing on my Caravan (almost never do it anymore). Its much easier than any other piece to circular breath on since it is very closed and very resistant.
 

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I was actually thinking of revisiting it due to a comment Pete Thomas made in regard to playing runs and phrases while doing it. Silly I know, but the thought had never occurred to me. I guess I was stuck on the holding the one note thing.
 

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You have to know how to do it if you play the digeridoo but other than that it's just for show.
 

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Have you ever seen a video of RR Kirk? He does it about every 3 seconds when he is playing the stritch and manzello.
 

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I'm with AhCheung, I don't think it's just for show. Some modern sax pieces almost explicitly require it - like Lauba's "Balafon," for instance. For others it can be helpful -- that accompanimental section in mvmt. I of Ibert, maybe. It also eliminates the need for any "stagger breathing" and can prevent phrase breaking at all tempos. I run into situations all the time where it can be helpful, but haven't taken the time to master it yet.

I say keep giving it a shot while you're young - what's the disadvantage? Just don't forget to practice fundamentals, too!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
No its just that im playing this one song that is like really fast paced and whenever im not playing like a million sixteenth notes im playing 3 tied whole notes...and it really takes the air out of you when your breathing within a milisecond.
 

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I would suggest practise your proper breathing. Classical woodwind players don't need to have these gimmicks.
Besides which, I've heard that repeated circular breathing causes brain damage, possibly in the listeners to it, rather than for the player.
 

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Circular breathing

I couldn't agree more with AhCheung. This is a technique and should be treated as it is. Learn it, master it if you can and this may help you in the future. And remember, circular breathing is like learning how to swim, ride a bike, drinking root beer. It's kinda awkward in the beginning but once you get a handle of it it becomes second nature.
 

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Like you, I learned c. breathing young. I didn't, and still don't find it that useful, unless you want to play a really long lick, or, like a bari solo (yeah, real odd), hold a note for 16 meas.
 

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I'll bite. It's not always for show. Some repertoire requires it. If you want a more pragmatic approach to its use, it's also nice to have in the bag when you're playing a phrase and need a breath and don't want to sacrifice ruining the phrase by interrupting it by breathing. Sure there are musical places to breathe, but in performance, anything can happen such as not getting enough air and it becomes necessary to circular breathe, or break the phrase, but I'd rather circular breathe. If you get it down at age 13 on tenor, good on you. I learned when I was 16 and it's helped me every now and then. It's also not just good on holding a note, but you can do it playing a fast passage and articulating if you practice it just right.
 

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As a side note, my brother used to have to use a CPAP at night due to snoring and sleep apnea, but after taking up the digeridoo for a while and flat out mastering circular breathing as one must, he not longer has problems. So presumably those same benefits will incur to us saxophonists.
 

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I don't advocate one way or the other for circular breathing. I did notice the last time I saw the Phillip Glass Ensemble, that all of the wind players have to circular breathe, so I suppose it could be argued that for 'modern' music it's something you gotta have in your bag of tricks.

That being said, I think it's a poor composer of wind music that doesn't allow for breathing. Why not just write the part for a synth?

I can see no real musical reason for such long-winded phrases. Ofttimes I yearn for more space, especially in improvised sections.
 
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