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I just had an experience that gives an example of how playing woodwinds unconsiously affects one's breath control.
I had to take a Spirometry test at work, where I was expected to fill my lungs and mouth with air, hold and forcefully exhale into a ~ 2" tube hooked out to a machine and a computer, then keep blowing for about 6 - 10 seconds. It apparently measures the volume of the forcefully exhaled air, and uses the total volume to determine one's lung capacity.

Well, I had taken the test three years earlier with no big issues,so I went for my first blast, and my initial forcefull "blast" was only about 20% of the expected volume. In those terms, I had the lung capacity of maybe a cat. The machine was then checked out for problems, but of course, none were found. Then I repeated the test two more times, and still got the same woeful result. By now, everyone present was confused as to WTH was going on.
I then realized that I may have been releasing air as if I was initiating a note on the sax, and with that in mind I did the opposite of what I normally do. I started exceeding the test standard, and could even hold my breath for much longer without feeling faint. Apparently, folks tend to pass out during the test.

Lessons learnt: it doesn't take much air to initiate a note on the sax, and one's overall lung capacity is enhanced with the long tone and other sax exercises. And I have actual data to prove it.

So, that was how sax playing, with large tipped mouthpieces and fairly hard reeds, nearly got me on Medical disability for respiratory issues:D
 

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Funny story ;)
 

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So you are saying it's not a good idea to play long tones on a Spirometer. :)

Now somebody needs to come up with a machine that measures good breath support. That would be useful.

John
 

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Good for you and yeah I'm in complete agreement. I sometimes record voiceover and I've noticed I have much better control over my voice and ability to read ridiculously long sentences aloud without pausing for breath.

My sax playing is still awful, but at least I can talk for longer...
 

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SearjeantSax said:
i cant talk very well, i dont stop for breath enough and i stutter, but i can play!
We should get together, between us we've got one good sax player :)
 

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Is anyone else out there in a profession where they have to have periodical medicals with a spirometry test? I am in the Mining industry, and do a medical every 2 years.
I used to struggle to give the tester what they are after, as my breath control would get in the way. Lung capacity is no problem at 6+ litres, I take a while to 'ramp up' to be able to blast the air out into a 1.5" tube with absolutely no back-pressure. I used to take 5 or 6 attempts to get it right.

When I know I have to do a medical these days, I practice blasting my breath into a big tube a few weeks out.
It's nothing like long tones though!!
 

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Alexk said:
Is anyone else out there in a profession where they have to have periodical medicals with a spirometry test? I am in the Mining industry, and do a medical every 2 years.
I used to struggle to give the tester what they are after, as my breath control would get in the way. Lung capacity is no problem at 6+ litres, I take a while to 'ramp up' to be able to blast the air out into a 1.5" tube with absolutely no back-pressure. I used to take 5 or 6 attempts to get it right.

When I know I have to do a medical these days, I practice blasting my breath into a big tube a few weeks out.
It's nothing like long tones though!!
I used to work in Asbestos areas above the ceiling of theaters and had to wear a tyvek suit and respirator. In addition, we had to get chest Xrays and, I'm assuming that the respiration test was a spirometry test.

The first time I did the test they said I had the lungs of a 25 year old. I said, 'Great, when do I have to give them back?';)
 

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My teacher, 70yo, and playing tenor for 50+, puzzled the medics on one of these 'exhalation tests'....he just kept on and on blowing :D
 
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