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Hearing the breath

Intentional listening and implementation

"The Breath is a Natural part of the musical phrase." Dr. Murray has repeated this to me over and over. He also encouraged that I listen more to classical vocalists like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. While we might not hear, or be aware of the breath via our favorite brass recordings, we must be able to hear the breath as a natural part of the musical phrase. Listening to vocalists is the easiest way for us to hear the breath. This takes time to develop awareness and intentionality in our listening.

The next step for me was to translate this into how I visualize the music that I am playing. As I mentally rehearse the pieces that I am working on, I must learn to make the breath a natural part of every phrase. This step has taken the most time and intentionality to develop, but it is slowly becoming more normal to how I perceive the music that I play. Dr. Murray has continued this idea by saying that the breath must be taken for musical intent, not out of necessity. This is very revealing to me as I learn to overcome old habits with this new intent. This has led to the need for me to develop skills that allow me to do this. Two come to mind: learning to play with steady flow over longer phrases, and taking a full breath in shorter spans of time. Mouthpiece playing has really helped both of these skills develop at a more rapid pace.

Time to Keep it Simple,

Adam C White

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