How to Gain Better Breath Control: A Guide for Clarinettists

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One of the most important things for beginning clarinet players to learn is good breath control, as this will lead to a more pleasant tone and much greater endurance. If you're just learning to play the clarinet, spending a few minutes each day on breathing exercises will mean your playing will improve immensely in just a few months. On top of this, your range will improve, and you'll be able to play in the upper register and still produce the same beautiful, warm tones that are generally more manageable in the middle and lower registers.

Breathe correctly

Beginner clarinettists are often taught to take a good lungful of air before they play so that they can more easily sustain a note and make it sound warm and full, but they are not always taught the importance of breathing from the right place. Next time you go to play your instrument, take a breath: if your shoulders move when you breathe in, then you are probably not breathing correctly. You should be breathing from deep down in your diaphragm in order to produce a note that is full and warm, as diaphragmatic breathing leads to a reduction in pressure in the upper body, which makes it easier for air to enter the lungs.

Make diaphragmatic breathing part of your daily practice along with your other daily exercises: you'll know you're doing it properly if you're able to see and feel your stomach rise and fall. If you're still not sure you're doing it right, or you find it difficult, there are exercises you can do to help improve diaphragmatic breathing.

Practice Yoga

Not only does regular yoga practice do wonders for the body, but also it's helps when it comes to gaining better breath control. This is because yoga teaches not only awareness of breath, but also the correct way to inhale and exhale deeply, and this is invaluable as a clarinettist. If you don't fancy attending a yoga class, no worries. There are plenty of free yoga classes that are accessible on YouTube.

Practice with long notes

Playing long notes is a great exercise to help develop breath control; how long you play the note depends on how long you're able to hold it. At first, aim for 30 seconds, and then develop it from there. Choose a note that you find easy to play, and play it as quietly as you can. Try and keep the note steady. You should notice a significant change in your breath control – and, in turn, your tone and endurance -- if you do daily for a few weeks.

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