by Diane Barger, Pedagogy Chair
Dr. Wesley Ferreira, clarinet professor at Colorado State University, has developed a wonderful training program called the Air Revelation. For students and professionals alike, this program is a four-week training plan that offers specific exercises to help musicians develop a keen awareness of the breathing mechanism and learn the proper techniques of breath support, breath control, and optimum breathing. Students use this tool independently to enhance that which they are learning in their private lessons; teachers gain an additional way to explain proper use of air, which in turn helps their students to achieve optimal tone production and control.
Dr. Ferreira provides the following information about this program:
As a University professor myself, I aim to be clear and efficient in my teaching in order to help my students find proven ways to develop their abilities. I could often see how students struggled to consistently translate when teachers asked them to “use more air” or “use faster air” and they often appeared confused by comments such as “you’re dropping your support”. Clearly, for some students they needed a way to connect these words and concepts into practice.
The Air Revelation breath support training program is viewed by easy-to-follow instructional videos and is used in conjunction with the incentive spirometer, which can be purchased by visiting http://www.airrevelation.com/. By spending 10 to 15 minutes a day prior to, or as your daily warmup, you’ll begin to notice yourself implementing the healthy and good habits that you naturally use on the spirometer, onto your instrument.
Over many years of teaching, I have developed over 25 breath exercises using the incentive spirometer. The incentive spirometer is the best breathing device available because it is so versatile.
There are specific exercises that develop:
– soft entrances
– tapering ends of notes
– subito changes of dynamics
– accenting, playing with breath support at the softest dynamic levels
– playing with full forte tone that is not tense
– keeping breath support while articulating
All of these skills transfer to the instrument. These skills are executed by controlling air without interference from other parts of the body.
Here is a link to a video example of one of the instructional exercises: https://youtu.be/sdAI-EBvi44
Here is a link to the website (specifically to the training program): http://www.airrevelation.com/training-program
I created special “troubleshooting” set of exercises as well to help with specific issues that plague developing clarinetists and that can be solved with better use of air, including squeezing fingers, tensing throat, too much biting, and trouble keeping breath support when tonguing.
In addition, I created a device called the “long tube”. It is placed inside the clarinet by attaching safely to the mouthpiece, and comes out the bell where it then attaches to the spirometer. This is the closest we get to using the good habits used on the spirometer and playing the clarinet at the same time. With this device, you can listen to your air, watch the spirometer ball, and feel what you are doing. While playing your music, it is very easy to see when you drop your breath support, be it during articulation, during technique, or in specific ranges of the instrument.
I have witnessed how using the Air Revelation breath support training program has consistently and in some cases dramatically improved student’s ability to play with tension-free breath support and tone in a variety of contexts and situations. Playing with breath support is the very basic level of performing well and it influences and affects quality of tone, intonation, and articulation. Using these exercises will help you to improve in all of these areas. For wind players, air is the engine of sound production. Using better air makes all aspects of singing and playing a wind instrument easier.
The incentive spirometer will reveal and give you insight on the quality of breath support that you use, and by promoting relaxation over tension, your breathing will improve, your tone will improve, and your ability to control your musical phrases will develop faster.
So, take a look at the links provided in this article and see for yourself what this Air Revelation Program can do for you! And, if you have used this system, feel free to submit a comment below on this page and let our membership know about your experiences.
Meanwhile, if you have something you’d like to share on our Pondering Pedagogy page, please contact me at [email protected]. Happy Practicing!