Masterclass Handout
Posture affects breathing

Posture is the place to start with breathing. Stand up straight (or, if sitting, stand from the waist up). Don't be stiff or rigid - but do be upright, not sagging with the shoulders or chest. Be aware of the axis in the shoulders. If you let them fall, do they collapse downward to the front, restricting the lung space? That should tell you something about your posture. While letting you arms hang freely, turn your palms forward and lightly bring your arms back. You should feel an expansion in the chest/lung area.

Now take a nice, natural, big, deep breath, and exhale again. Do this a few times. Note the word "natural". Again, we brass players can tend to loose sight of the most natural things. Breathe as though you were lightly winded after a short, easy sprint, or as if you just opened the window and are tanking up on good, fresh air.

Don't let your chest collapse downward as you exhale. Stay tall as you blow. This point is important, and will make the next inhalation easier, more natural, as the next breath doesn't have to help re-inflate the collapsed position.

And, a final posture point: I believe that posture often shows how you feel about the current task, or even about yourself. Are you crouched and squinting into the music stand? Stand tall and confidently - even if you have to fake it at first! I think you will find that feelings follow actions in this sense. Or, to put it another way, "Confident is as confident does." Sometimes we have to act the part before we feel we own it.