Struggle with Breath Control

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Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2019 12:13 pm

Struggle with Breath Control

Post by Chummy »

Hi guys, I have been playing Flute for 1 year and 1 month

Currently I am practicing on my breath control but I can only sustain a note for a time between 7-10 seconds.
I am doing long notes and this is only what I can achieve. Granted, I was kinda neglecting long tones cause it's boring,
But since last week I re-took it seriously again. How can one improve upon that, given there's little way to improve analytically in this fashion
Unlike when playing a wrong note, or struggling with harder/faster technique, this is very easy for me to learn for example and my technique is good.
I think my breathing is good I feel my belly I take deep breath, I may be wasting too much air though and I try to adjust. Although even though I managed to achieve really small embochure hole with tight feeling on the lips , so only very little air stream to conserve air for a longer note, this is still not surpassing more than 10 seconds. Do you have any tips?

I also have a problem, my teacher tells me to practice with a metronome, because when I take a breath sometime it moves the metronome. This is a cause for extreme frustration for me. I told her breathing is an event on the time line therefore it is bound on move the metronome... she said sometimes beginner skip the last note before the breath in order to be able to take it on time but I disagreed to do that because that would mean I'd opt for an easy way and I won't be playing all the notes this is unacceptable for me. I do practice with a metronome but sometimes I can't help it, my breath after a tiresome passage moves it by up to 1 second, and that messes up with the rest of the tune, just impossible. Not sure how a human can do that.

aside from long tones, practice excersize , I have limited my pracrice to 3 pieces only in particular right now just to get them as best as I can:
1) Drouet Study number 1
2) Garibaldi Etude number 3 (book of 20 studies)
3) Garibaldi Edute number 4 (book of 20 studies)
4) I am also playing dance of the puppet by Debussy

I have listened online to performers of these pieces.
For Example if you see here: ... 3b&index=5
This is actually very similar to how I sound. Because if I were to put a metronome on this performance it would not be on time whenever some of the difficult breaths are taken... - Drouet study 1, this is extremely hard piece...
This is an example of a perfect performance, I have absolutely no idea how this is possible or what mistake should I fix to be able to improve.
The technique again is not hard, I play slighty slower than him though. but he takes about X breaths in total, I may need 2X to complete the piece including cutting between the slurs because I'm out of air. E.G while I am taking a very deep/loud breath at 0:14 of the video I can pull less than or just about 2 measures straight without stopping for breathing again... even when I do those 2 measure I gotta breath again deeply which moves the metronome further. his breath is very short also but he manages to play everything easily all the way through..

Any tips , or advice or input at all would be highly appreciated. Sorry for long post :(
Professional Pianist, Piano teacher, advanced Flutist and composer.
my gear: Kawai ES920, Yamaha KX5, Sonare by Powell PS-501 Flute, Roland Jupiter 6.

frugal flutist
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:27 pm

Re: Struggle with Breath Control

Post by frugal flutist »

Hi Chummy,
10 seconds, (wtf!) That seems alarmingly short, somethings got to be wrong. You may need to see a doctor to rule out lung or heart disease. How long can you hold your breath?

You can "expand your lung capacity" Google those four words. Find some exorcises, do them for a few days. If you do, I think you will notice a positive result that fast. In a few months I think you'll be able to hold your breath for a minute or more. That will help with long passages.
Long notes may be boring, but holding them for as long as possible teaches breath control.

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