Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by eternalbeginner, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. :help:

    Hi Patrick,

    I want/need to incorporate consciously my breath[ing] into my playing. How should I go about it? I feel that I have mature in all the other aspect of bass playing and I notice that my breathing habits are the only thing that is getting in my way, preventing me from reaching my 100%. I tried to breath rhythmically with scales, but I honestly have no idea if this is/was helpful to enhance my understanding of how to par my breathing with my playing. I got dizzy though, hahaha. When I play I occasionally breath with phrases (mostly the obvious ones), but in between long phrases or phrases that overlap each other my breaths are usually short and fast. After a long session of practice or orchestra playing I notice that the little muscular stress that I accumulate is because of my breathing. Can you help/orient me?

  2. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Yes you must breathe (assuming you ARE human!) while playing and TO PLAY the bass. But whether you NEED to breathe in rhythm I think is perhaps a bit strongly stated. I believe breathing, or "taking a breath" at appropriate rhythmical spots (upbeats for sure) seems to help ensembles play together. It is also a physical act that connects you with the audience. I am always amazed that my audiences are breathing with me on downbeats and upbeats and in emphatic gestures. I would say that you DO NOT want the SOUND of your breathing to be louder than ANYTHING you are playing. The instrument needs to be your voice (until you add your voice or the sound of breathing as expressive sounds). But I doubt you need to practice breathing with scales, unless you need practice in giving an up-beat or phrase closure or some such thing.
    Whatever you do, don't hyper-ventilate!
    best to you!~
  3. Thanks for the info, PN!!!

    Maybe I'm hyperventilating and I'm not noticing it. So my immediate goal is to be conscious of my breathing and watch out for hyperventilating. The next step would be to practice some up-beats, down-beats and emphatic gestures. Then I just have to make sure that I'm breathing in a relax manner in most of my playing.
    Great, I feel like I know what to look for and it sound very doable.

    Thanks again Patrick! :)
  4. Eric Grossman

    Eric Grossman

    Nov 3, 2004
    St. Louis
    Endorsing Artist: Hipshot Products, DR Strings and Accugroove Speaker Cabinets
    Something I do, sometimes, is focus on steady breathing during my practice. I'll play my modes, or some other thing that I'm comfortable with, and focus on steady breathing. The more you focus in the practice room, the more natural it will be in the real world. It's easy to overlook playing bass as a physical exercise, but it is just that. Your hands, arms and shoulders are in constant stimulation, and your body is rhythmically involved. I think that just like any physical endeavor, breathing (steadily) will help your stamina, and your immediate muscle recovery and reaction.

    If you breathe erratically, or unsteadily, you are using more energy, and you are cheating your muscles out of their steady supply of O2. Over the course of a long gig, that can make a difference in the degree of fatigue you feel. Try soloing in the last song of a 3 hour set, and you'll know exactly what I mean.
  5. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Inactive

    Apr 6, 2007
    Breathing is really important. I don't necessarily go as far as synchronizing my breathing into the music, I'm not a wind player, but it does help to be aware of it. Often, if I'm playing a really intense exercise I'll stop breathing and then my shoulders will rise, and that's when I get pain. It's important to be aware of what your body is doing when you're playing. Use a mirror, and play in an area that's ventilated. Common sense right?

    An interesting bit of information was passed down by Klaus Stoll, about "Breathing Habits when leading a section." He talkes about syncronizing all of his movements including when he raises his bow all to demonstrate tempo and attack to the rest of the section. I don't suggest you start doing this in a Youth Orchestra situation because someone will inevitably and rightfully punch you in the face. Just an interesting bit of information to be aware of!