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It's ok to take a breath.

 
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2016-02-24, 10:15    Post subject: It's ok to take a breath. Reply with quote

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What I am about to say may be obvious, but not to me when I set out to learn the shakuhachi.
Thinking back I remember being more aware of trying to breathe in the right place, or even trying not to when I thought it was "wrong", rather than thinking about the piece I was trying to play. Also I had read stuff about people able to use circular breathing and so this made me feel even more inadequate!
My thoughts have definitely changed on this issue, for what they are worth.
As I play more I have naturally become increasingly aware of my breathing as a consequence of things like starting my sessions with long tone practice, etc.
Yes, breathing is an important part of playing the shakuhachi, but so is relaxing into the actual playing of the tune.
I now tend to favour the relaxation and let the breathing follow. Sometimes the result doesn't follow any suggested breathing points, but given the nature of many of the pieces, the results, to my ear, are better.
Maybe I am headed down a rocky path to bad habits but on the other hand would anybody agree that possibly I am on the right track and that breathing points are for the player to decide and this may differ from one to the other?
Rather than play as many notes as I can in a breath or even the suggested number, I concentrate on the integrity and sound of the piece. My breathing seems to follow.
Discuss.
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JF Lagrost
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PostPosted: 2016-02-26, 20:56    Post subject: It's ok to take a breath. Reply with quote

My opinion is that the place of breathing should be decided for musical reasons. We must therefore improve our breathing technique in order to be comfortable enough not to breathe for survival reasons. The place of the breaths in one piece can therefore actually vary slightly from one musician to another, because they have not made the same analysis of phrasing.
It is absurd to use circular breathing to play the traditional repertoire, except for technical work.
You're right always concentrating on the quality of your sound.
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2016-02-28, 22:42    Post subject: It's ok to take a breath. Reply with quote

Hi JF,
Thanks for a useful and encouraging reply.
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Roban Beuran
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PostPosted: 2016-02-29, 00:24    Post subject: It's ok to take a breath. Reply with quote

Let me add one thing to what Jean Francois said, which by the way I totally agree with.

My teacher always said that once you decide where the breath places are in a score, you should always take a breath at those places and not in any other locations.
So breath places can be decided on an individual basis, based on your understanding of the music and perhaps your current physical abilities, but you should be consistent about breathing when you play the same piece of music.

This also means that in some years you may decide to change breath locations, because your understanding of the music and/or physical abilities may change, but again consistency is key. Good luck with your training!
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felix martens
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PostPosted: 2016-02-29, 21:54    Post subject: It's ok to take a breath. Reply with quote

Cheers, Roban. Another stimulating take on the idea. Very helpful, thanks.
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