From: Charles Deering <;>;
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 1995 18:21:58 -0500
Subject: Diaphram Breathing

The diaphram is a dome shaped muscle connected to the bottom of the lungs.
When it contracts, the lungs volume increases and air rushes in (if
All inhaling is "diaphram breathing." The diaphram cannot push air out but
when it relaxes, the organs which were compressed on inhaling push up on the
diaphram and expel air. This natural pressure is enough to play most wind
instruments quite loudly. This includes all brass instruments but may not
include some double reeds. Many of the best wind players rarely use more
air pressure than what the spring-like action of the organs provides.

To play softer than full volume, most fine wind players use a controlled,
reduced contraction of the diaphram to slow the exhaling force of the
organs. Many beginning students find this action quite difficult and
fall into the habit of exhaling by contracting the diaphram with great
force and then tightening the abdominal muscles with even greater force.
This actually works quite well and permits considerable control of air
pressure. A number of fine professional players play and teach this way.

The down side of this "hard gut" school of playing is that it is very hard
on your body and the great tension in the region of the solar plexis tends
to migrate to throat, tongue, lips, hands, back etc.. I was brought up in
this school but fortunately saw the light. In close succession, my teacher,
his teacher and one of my fellow students had hernia operations brought on
by this style of playing. This was a pretty good hint that we were doing
something wrong. I also once broke the back of my chair by the tension
of my back muscles. My embouchure was equally tight and I was constantly
plagued by chapped lips and cold sores. When I looked for alternatives I
discovered that the majority of players have found a much easier way to
play. I was already playing professionally but was able to change. It
was hard at first, but within a couple of months I was better (and
healthier) than ever.

If you are of the "hard gut" school, I urge you to try a different way.
I play "classical" and rarely bend notes but I can. When learning, I
found bending tricky but not taxing. Almost everyone on this list
knows much better than I how to teach or explain bending but I can tell
you it can be done loudly to very softly with no strain and only very
little energy. Maybe blues demands something else, but I doubt it.

Keep well!

Charles Deering

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I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

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