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ive been playing sax for about 2 years now. as far as my technical ability (dexterity, etc...) im fairly good but my tone just sounds airy, unfocused, and thin. it used to be better i think but lately its just been worse and i dont know why. i guess i lost my conceptions.

i also recently joined choir to learn how to sing well, as my vocal tone isnt good either. i know that the 2 (singing and sax playing) instill success in each other but i dont think im quite grasping the concept of either.

the choir teacher always says that a vocal tone should never sound forced and should be without intended pressure in the diaphragm. a free flowing voice is the ideal tone and naturally has a vibrato (obviously wouldnt appear naturally with a wind instrument)

on sax, i always tried to push from my diaphragm. i thought that was what "breath support" meant. clearly i was wrong. but if thats incorrect, then what's right? where do the lines between vocal and instrumental breath support overlap? could someone explain exactly what the concepts are in general?
 

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First there is a wide misconception about breathing. To tell someone to "breathe with the diaphragm" is simply incorrect and will set the individual up for failure. This is because it is primary muscle of inspiration. You can NOT feel it at all, some say they can but what they are really feeling is its movement, or nothing at all.

When we breath normally, we breath with the diaphragm. When we breath to produce a tone on an instrument or sing, we breath with the diaphragm. No difference.

And one other thing about the diaphragm, when one says “support with the diaphragm” they are implying that one engages the diaphragm to exhale, that it contracts to push the air out of the body. This is backwards, in reality the diaphragm contracts as you inhale, not as you exhale. Like I said before it is the primary muscle of inspiration. As you exhale, the diaphragm is actually relaxing.

Now you may be asking yourself "ok, that's good information but how does it relate to tone production/quality and breath support?" Because understanding the proper system of breathing helps you play your best, even though you may not be thinking about it when you perform.

One of my professors has this great website on the subject of breathing. He is brilliant with his method of teaching it. I highly suggest you take a look at it as it removes any misconception and wrong information on the subject from your mind. http://mountainpeakmusic.wordpress.com/

You are correct in that by singing we can improve your instrumental playing. I suggest you try looking at that website and seeing if you're breathing properly to begin with. When I examined the way I breathe, I discovered about 20 things I was doing "wrong" and that end result was hindering my playing and performance capabilities.
 
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