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Thread: Help im having issues breathing quickly

  1. #1

    Help im having issues breathing quickly

    Hello I am a student in Canada and I seem to be running into an issue of having to play lengthy, fast passages with no rest and I have no idea where to breathe.

    An example of a piece I am working on right now would be the melody shop march solo from 78-end.
    it's not necessarily the notes that are messing me up as I can practice it slowly and build up muscle memory for the passage but as I am playing it faster now I find it impossible to find a place to breathe quickly enough to continue back into the passage in time.

    is there any advice?

    also my idea of playing it "fast" is 100bpm

    kyle

  2. #2
    Welcome to the forum, Kyle!! Great question about Melody Shop!

    Melody Shop is a great march. And you need to be a wind sack to play it all without skipping any notes. The for sure places to breathe are right after any quarter note. Play the quarter note short and take a quick breath. Do this even at the start of the fast section just to keep a full tank. The other places to breathe should be worked out in advance. What you do is leave out an eighth note occasionally. Do this by playing the first eighth note of a group of 4, then skip the 2nd eighth note, take a quick breath, then play the last two and continue on. Work this all out from home and clearly mark those places where you need to take a quick breath. When Melody Shop is played up to speed (really fast), it is virtually impossible to take breaths in between the eighth notes.

    I had to play this as a solo a couple of summers ago during a city municipal band concert. I did exactly what I said above. To the audience, leaving out an eighth note in 1-2 places through that fast section is not even really noticed by the audience, and most wouldn't know you were not playing a couple of the left out notes. They would think that is the way it is supposed to go.

    This is my two cents worth. Others may have other ideas. Of course if you are playing it as a solo in the band and you are the only euphonium, you could take a breath between eighth notes, and then catch up by playing the next few notes a little faster. That is another possibility. But when playing Melody Shop with a big group of euphoniums, you want to keep strict tempo.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 04-06-2020 at 11:38 AM.
    John Morgan
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    We played it last year with my community band with three euphs so it was manageable to keep the runs and solos going. We decided to share the solos and also trade off some of the more difficult runs in certain spots to catch a breath, but I like John's idea of skipping a note.
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  4. #4
    In the Coast Guard we paired up. It's not really a "solo" in the one-only sense; I think it is a "section solo." If you get a big breath before you start you can go quite a way. So we would actually spell each other. One might play up to the first note in the measure and take a big breath, then come in on the next measure. And vice versa. If you play carefully where this will happen it can seem seamless to the audience. Getting time for a big breath within the context means you have to trade off fewer times.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  5. #5
    Related to my suggestion above:

    It has been documented that as we run out of air on long phrases, it interferes with your finger coordination. The lack of oxygen messes you up! So catching barely enough air in many quick breaths may contribute to less clarity of your 1/8 notes.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  6. #6
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    We should also remember that the instruments and mouthpieces in use when Melody Shop was written were pea-shooters by today's standards...much smaller bored than ANY large-bore compensating horn today. On a pea-shooter, it would be MUCH easier than it is on a Sovereign, Willson, or 5050. Another point to consider is to make sure the conductor tells the other instruments to play QUIETLY and LIGHTLY while you're cranking it out. PS, though some people cringe at it, I have no reservations about sniff-breathing in pieces such as Melody Shop, especially if you're doing it by yourself. Having said that, I also need to leave out a few eighth notes if I'm doing it alone, and we always work out tradeoffs when doing it in a section. PS--do go for the high C.
    Last edited by Snorlax; 04-07-2020 at 06:28 PM.
    Jim Williams N9EJR (love 10 meters)
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Snorlax View Post
    We should also remember that the instruments and mouthpieces in use when Melody Shop was written were pea-shooters by today's standards...much smaller bored than ANY large-bore compensating horn today. On a pea-shooter, it would be MUCH easier than it is on a Sovereign, Willson, or 5050. Another point to consider is to make sure the conductor tells the other instruments to play QUIETLY and LIGHTLY while you're cranking it out.
    Excellent points! I think I (and others) have said on the forum that if one were doing nothing but playing standard/classic concert band literature, and American horn would be a nice choice.

    As to getting the rest of the band to play soft...great idea, but somehow the CG Band directors didn't really do much with that! I think on my old Conn or King, and with the band playing softer, I could have gotten by with one or two breaths after we started. Sure would be nice to be able to circular breath sometimes!! (My nasal passages are physically obstructed to an extent that makes it impractical to circular breath on euphonium - maybe if I played trumpet it would work.)
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  8. #8
    One other thing about The Melody Shop: A significant portion of the woodwinds are playing the 8th note line along with the euphoniums. That makes a breath sneaked here or there less apparent.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist
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    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

  9. #9
    Thank you for the great advice guys, the skipping a note or 2 really helps me out to get longer air.

    Ill also be sure to tell my band director to tell my clarinet army to quiet down.

    Kyle

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    In the Coast Guard we paired up. It's not really a "solo" in the one-only sense; I think it is a "section solo." If you get a big breath before you start you can go quite a way. So we would actually spell each other. One might play up to the first note in the measure and take a big breath, then come in on the next measure. And vice versa. If you play carefully where this will happen it can seem seamless to the audience. Getting time for a big breath within the context means you have to trade off fewer times.
    I thought there was one solo at the beginning of the piece.
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