How to Master the Art of Circular Breathing for Playing a Wind Instrument

Circular breathing is a technique used in playing very particular wind instruments. For example, it is used in the playing of the didgeridoo. Sometimes circular breathing is even used in playing the oboe or flute. This is actually a very difficult technique to use, but once mastered, circular breathing can become almost effortless.

Circular breathing works by first breathing in and then holding the air in your cheeks. While holding the air in the cheeks the person begins to breath through their nose. Then, as a means to learn the technique of circular breathing, the person should gradually let the air out of their mouths while continuing to breath in through their nose. Circular breathing is a little like taking a drink while trying to breath at the same time.

One way to practice this is by using a straw and a glass of water. You are to blow air into the water through the straw while simultaneously breathing in through your nose. You want to do it fast, but evenly. Don’t blow so hard that the water goes over the sides. This exercise helps with the coordination of the breathing.

Once having mastered that step the next step in circular breathing is to learn how to inhale. First simply continue to breath out through your mouth using your cheek muscles to expel the air. Try to breathe in through your nose. This is where circular breathing gets tricky. You must master the rhythm of exhaling through your mouth but breathing in through your nose. It’s the pumping of the air with your cheek muscles that makes the technique of circular breathing so useful in playing the wind instruments.

Kenny G is perhaps the most famous musician who specializes in circular breathing. He set a world record using this technique, by holding a note for forty-five minutes and forty-seven seconds.

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