Warm-up 1 Premise Review (Full, In-Time Breath)

Breathing Technique

  1. Always Take a Full, In-Time Breath. It is essential to breathe in and out in one uninterrupted motion (without a “hitch” between the inhale and the exhale). In other words, breathe without catching the breath in the throat for an instant just prior to articulating the entry note. It should be one fluid action; not three (inhale, hold, and exhale). It is also essential that this breath takes up the entire beat prior to articulating the entry note. However, if the tempo is very slow it makes more sense to fill the entire second half of the beat (the “ann”) with the breath.

  2. Maintaining a steady stream of air through every phrase supersedes all articulation indicated. Most problems of matching style, pitch, and intent are the result of not maintaining the intensity of the air through the phrase.

  3. Fill every beat entirely with sound whether it is a note or a rest (whisper during the rest).

  4. Never, ever, ever, breathe after a long note UNLESS we all decide to do so. This is, perhaps, the most common mistake found in every young or underachieving musical ensemble. It happens in warm-ups, drills, chorales, etc. and transfers directly to the performance and interpretation of the music. 

  5. A Word about Percussion.  Percussionists must learn to breathe together with their winds and brasses counterparts.  Therefore, include them in every exercise and regularly check and listen for them to be breathing and performing “in-time.” If we breathe together, we play together.

Articulation Technique

  1. Starting with a “T” and then denting the air. This is particularly important at fast tempi, but also through fast rhythms. Most concerns in staying together are due to stopping the air with the tongue. This slows the rhythm down and makes it difficult for the performer to stay “in-time” with everyone else. This should be the basis for making music which then is altered only by requirements of the music for specific effects or intent.    

  2. Quick-Twitch and Slow-Twitch. Embedded in the notion starting with a “T” and then denting the air on the exhalation using a “t”, “d”, and “y” tongue motion is the idea that we can develop (and must do so) what we call the “quick- twitch” muscles in the tongue. This can be practiced and improved upon. In our early careers, we learned that we needed to work to be able to increase the speed of our tonguing. The same notion applies here to learn how to dent the air. By denting the air we bend the pitch, and thus, it actually sounds like we have re-articulated the note.            

  3. Slow Music—Quick Articulation. Many encounter the problem of             denting the air too slowly between long or slow notes. The result is           a sound something like “ahhh---ooo”” between notes because the             denting of the air is so slow that it alters the pitch. It is important to           ensure that even though the pace of the note or music is slow our             articulation speed is quick.