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Lung Capacity

John in Hamilton 07 Apr 02 - 05:08 AM
cyder_drinker 07 Apr 02 - 05:37 AM
Jock Morris 07 Apr 02 - 05:39 AM
Celtic Soul 07 Apr 02 - 08:05 AM
C-flat 07 Apr 02 - 11:27 AM
Peg 07 Apr 02 - 11:52 AM
Naemanson 07 Apr 02 - 11:57 AM
John in Hamilton 07 Apr 02 - 03:09 PM
SharonA 08 Apr 02 - 10:43 AM
mooman 08 Apr 02 - 11:06 AM
Charcloth 08 Apr 02 - 10:04 PM
ciarili 09 Apr 02 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Boab 09 Apr 02 - 04:22 AM
Geoff the Duck 10 Apr 02 - 06:27 AM
Hecate 10 Apr 02 - 08:20 AM
Lynn 10 Apr 02 - 09:56 AM
Dave Bryant 10 Apr 02 - 11:22 AM
Alice 10 Apr 02 - 01:48 PM
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Subject: Lung Capacity
From: John in Hamilton
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 05:08 AM

I purchased one of those six-hole wooden flutes about 10 years ago, but never actually got into it because I didn't immediately grasp the whole breathing approach. I've noticed lately with high energy songs, I've been running out of breath also, and I'm beginning to wonder what options are available to me to help improve my lung capacity. If any suggestions work for me, I may pick up that flute again,



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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: cyder_drinker
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 05:37 AM

John -
Try picking up the flute anyway! My own lung capacity was quite small - I'm a smoker by the way (my choice, So no lectures from the health police!)- I started playing flutes a couple years ago, and it's done wonders for me. Taking a good lungful and making it last as long as possible, then grabbing another breath during the short gap between phrases, etc. Completely different to the breathing for singing.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Jock Morris
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 05:39 AM

Try taking up running; a few weeks of running a couple of miles every 2 or 3 days will soon improve your lung capacity and efficiency. Do take it easy at first though!!!


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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 08:05 AM

This is me surmising here, but I think that lung capacity may be tied to natural strength of voice. I was gifted with a very strong and loud voice. Did nothing to make it so, I just came that way from the factory. My lung capacity is huge. Again, did nothing to work it up, I just was made that way. But, I notice that, as I am not working as hard to make myself heard, I use less air to support my voice than do those who have naturally quieter voices. It takes longer for my voice to become strained as well.

I would think that getting a vocal coach and learning breath support techniques may help some, but as others have said many times in this forum, that alone will not make you an Opera singer. A lot of it is simply what gifts you were born with.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: C-flat
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 11:27 AM

I would have thought that any aerobic-type exercise would help lung capacity, swimming and walking too, but it sounds more like a breathing technique issue. Are you in Hamilton, Scotland? If so you've got beautiful, scenic walks around there.Get out in the countryside and let rip!

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Peg
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 11:52 AM

practicing breathing through the diaphragm will give you better breath control with singing so I imagine it must work for flute, too.

One way to get a good sense of this is to lie on your back on the floor. Place your knees halfway up with and slightly apart wth your feet on the floor (yes, you may feel like you are in a Lamaze class) and as you do so press your lower back to the floor. (You can do this without bending your knees but it is harder).

Now, try singing in this position. The ONLY way you can breathe is by using the diaphragm and stomach muscles to do so. Get a feel for where these muscles are and practice tightening them and breathing through them while standing and playing. This is counter-intuitive if you breathe "with your shoulders" (i.e. your shoulders go up as you inhale) as many people do. It takes time to unlearn our usual habits. A vocal insructor can show you this technique in a more hands-on way.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Naemanson
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 11:57 AM

Health Police lecture number 15 for cyder_drinker. (I figure you've heard it all before so just pick one and rerun it in your head.

What the others said about the vocal coach is your best bet, John in Hamilton. It took a vocal coach to set me right and now I can blow the doors off the back of the hall if I desire. Also, look at the songs you sing and actually choose places to breathe.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: John in Hamilton
Date: 07 Apr 02 - 03:09 PM

I've actually got a fairly strong singing voice, but I've been trying to adapt to lower keys, which require more air. In regard to the flute, I suspect the proper embouchre(sp?) comes into play here as well. I may be wasting air. I could probably use the jogging too, though. It is harder to sing those busy songs while playing guitar, also.

John in Hamilton(Ontario)

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: SharonA
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 10:43 AM

Couldn't you just wear a nicotine patch and/or chew Nicorette gum and/or inhale through one of those prescription tubes, instead of smoking? You'd still get the nicotine into your system, without getting the tar and all the other nasty stuff into your lungs, where it affects your lung capacity. Just a thought (though I understand that there's a certain pleasure in the ritual of smoking).

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: mooman
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 11:06 AM

Two separate things here.

My lung capacity and respiratory function in general are well above average for my age (as measured very recently) and I have never smoked. However, I never seem to have the breath to play flute or whistle well (nor any other wind instrument) nor is my singing technique that brilliant. I therefore believe that it is a question of breathing technique rather than of lung capacity.

Therefore, John, I suggest you pick up that flute again and get yourself a tutor or teacher who will explain proper breathing technique! (And I should do the same!)

Best regards,


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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Charcloth
Date: 08 Apr 02 - 10:04 PM

Watch you posture. If you stand upright & head up instead of slouched like most folks do when trying to read their music you will see a big difference.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: ciarili
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 03:35 AM

Jump on over to the singers and laryngitis thread, too - there are links to some vocal technique sites and I just finished talking about breath support, too.


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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 09 Apr 02 - 04:22 AM

Sorry, Cyder drinker---but if you are so resentful of the "health police" why mention the fact of your smoking and follow up by not only issuing a challenge, but giving it italic emphasis? So, in case any young person reading the postings here should get the message [NOT I may say, that you deliberately intend it that way,]"If cider drinker can get away with it, so can I..."---I will inform them of what CAN happen.I still sing, play accordion and bodhran; but not nearly with the ease of past years. You see, I stopped smoking thirty years ago---twenty years after I should have. Not willing to put my lack of "puff" down to age, I had a check up. Thanks to my own habit, and my regular doses of the downstream stuff in my favourite haunts, I was diagnosed as having an emphysema-"quite a big one" in the words of the examining Doc. To his question re. my smoking habits, I told him I had stopped a long time back. "That", he said, "is why you are still around." That's my story, and it's gospel. Now you could well be lucky, and get away with it---but it is as well to be aware that you are gambling! Constable Boab.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 06:27 AM

A flute is an instument where your breating is High Volume but Low Pressure - as opposed to a brass instrument such as a trumpet where a low volume of breath is passed at high pressure through the mouthpiece. This means that when playing flute you will use a lot of breath for a relatively small quantity of notes played.
As mentioned by Peg - learning to use the diaphragm for breathing (breathing from the stomach) will increase the volume of air initially in your lungs. Breathing from the diaphragm also gives much more control on how the breath is expelled, so allows a singer to produce vocal effects which do not happen with other styles of breathing. This can be either a good or bad thing, depending on how it is used.
Sitting badly will compress your lung capacity, so correct posture (mentioned by Charcloth) can also improve your output.
Often, though, the most important thimng about playing a tune (or singing) is how you PHRASE the melody. Teach yourself to take short, quick breaths between phrases, and divide your playing into sections which allow you to sneak a breath without it interrupting the flow of a phrase. Sometimes deliberately breaking the flow of a tune can help to emphasise a phrase or the start of a new section, and so is something to cultivate rather than hide. Listen to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull - in tunes such as Dharma for One, the breathing is emphasised to the point where it is as much a part of the tune as the flute melody itself.
Take the advice from Cyder Drinker - Pick up the flute and play as often as you can. That in itself will help you to develop stamina and endurance. You can often catch him playing during the Sunday Mudcat sessions on PALTALK (UK 6pm/1pm ESB-Mudcat Time) Look on the Forum for a posting saying Paltalk Session Open (or something similar).
Don't give up without trying.
Geoff the Duck!

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Hecate
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 08:20 AM

Swimming is really good and unlike jogging, it doesn't do unspeakable things to your knees.

Just a note, but using your diaphragm is all well and good if you have nothing else trying to occupy said space! I made the interesting discovery recently that if I try to sing and use any of my abdominal muscles to help things along, I get paddled/kicked, or something (baby still too small for this to be clear, but sensations quite remarkable and very offputting.)Good posture does seem to help though, when I remember.

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Lynn
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 09:56 AM

Embouchure can make a tremendous difference in the efficiency with which you use the air you've got. It changes according to the range in which you're playing. In the first octave, the lips need to be a bit looser, corners drawn out a bit, and blow more directly down into the instrument. As you go higher, the corners draw in, the air stream gets smaller and is gradually directed up until, at the highest notes, your air stream is practically parallel to the floor. Does that make sense to you? In other words, with low tones, blow toward the florr; mid range, blow at about 45 degrees; high range, blow practically straight out.

I seems awkward at first, but you'll improve your tone AND your capacity for playing longer phrases.


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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 11:22 AM

I've got a fairly powerful voice - if you want any proof of that try looking at the complaints about my chorus singing on the thread about the recent Lancaster Maritime Festival !

The main reason that singers (or whistle players) run out of breath or wind is lack of planning. If you are running out of breath in a phrase, think about where you can get some extra breath in, preferably without spoiling the phrasing. Many of the Classical Musical Directors that I have worked with have insisted on singers marking specific breathing points in their scores - and I always do it as a soloist. Planning your breathing first, often gives you a chance to actually improve your phrasing of a song and make it more intelligible. It is perfectly permissible to phrase lines differently in some verses to make up for the fact that some sounds use up more breath.

Melodeon players have even more problems with the use of the air button - they can have too much air !

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Subject: RE: Lung Capacity
From: Alice
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 01:48 PM

I agree this is a matter of breathing technique. My comments regarding the diaphragm (musculomembrane separating the abdominal and thoracic cavities of the body. Major inspiratory muscle) - most people have heard the word "diaphragm" if they are interested in singing, but many are unclear about what that means - learning to engage the muscles that create space for your lungs to fully expand is part of the technique of breath support (diaphragmatic breathing). There are also lower ribs that move out farther to create more capacity for air if you learn how to move them (intercostal breathing). Get thee to a good flute teacher! I had heard the term "diaphragm" regarding singing since I was in grade school, but had no one really explain breathe support until I took private singing lessons. There are alot of muscles involved with breath support. Being in good physical shape makes it easier to use them. Here is a page that discusses breathing technique for speaking. There are other links in the threads on singing (see the mega-thread I put together regarding that).
Projection, filling your audience with sound.

I am sure there is more regarding flute and breath support technique if you do a search on the net.


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