Better Breathing Blog

PowerLung for Musicians?

Posted by Carolyn Morse

Jul 27, 2017 5:56:55 PM

 A San Francisco Opera Symphony trumpet player first introduced PowerLung to music. When Barry Jarvis and I first put together the marketing plan for PowerLung, our focus was on sports in large part because that was our background and personal focus. Music was the farthest thing from our minds. Then, one day we received an email from a trumpet player from San Francisco Opera Symphony praising PowerLung for helping his breathing for running and trumpet.

With the introduction of the Trainer model in 2000 the woodwind instrumentalists would talk about using this PowerLung with a lower range of resistance. Finally, flute and low brass musicians told us how they used the BreatheAir model. And a speech pathologist wrote to us describing how she used the BreatheAir to help vocalists prevent polyps and public speakers project without straining their “vocal apparatus”.  Needless to say, all their descriptions while helpful were a little bit hard for us to understand since the instrument I learned to play was a baritone ukulele and Barry took piano lessons. 

We took all of this seriously enough to start looking into events where we could present PowerLung to musicians to help them benefit with stronger, more efficient breathing muscles. The first event we attended was International Trumpet Guild (ITG) in 2003 at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth.

Carolyn holding trumpet to play at PowerLung booth at ITG 2003In spite of our study and background work, we clearly weren’t musicians. There were a couple of ITG 2003 attendees who would come up and talk to us, ask questions and give information. Finally on the last full day one of them came up to me and said, “If you can breathe like that you can play a trumpet.” I was doubtful. He continued, “Tomorrow’s the last day. I’ve got a spare trumpet and I’ll bring it in and show you.” People who know me know that I’m not afraid to try things so I said “Okay!” Jon arrives the next day with a trumpet and tells me to warm up on my PowerLung. Then he proceeds to show me how to hold the trumpet, how to shape my mouth (embouchure) on the mouthpiece and then how to blow through it.  Even he would admit the first few “notes” were a bit “screechy” but with a little more work on my embouchure, he worked the keys and I provided the air and I played the trumpet.  I had just had a trumpet lesson from Jon Lewis, one of the top studio musicians in Hollywood. Most people pay dearly for those lessons but I learned from him, if you get your breathing right you can much more easily play a wind instrument.  Here are the photos of my lesson with Jon Lewis. 

Remember the other person who was asking questions?  Well that was Mark Boren who is the author of the PowerLung Breathing for Performance Book and DVD. And, he is now Professor of Trumpet at Minot State University in North Dakota. Even if you're not a musician, the Breathing for Performance Book and DVD have great information and training programs. You can find them in the PowerLung Online Store.

Both of these gentlemen played key roles in helping us understand the role PowerLung could play as part of a musician’s gig bag, warm up and practice routine. And both of them continue to support PowerLung and recommend it to musicians to improve their playing and for trumpet players, “save their chops”. Many thanks to Jon, Mark, and our other music teachers for showing us the importance of Breathing for Performance. We’ll talk about other music events we attended and the instruments, and incidents for those instruments in future articles. 

Just remember if you can breathe well you too can play a trumpet!

#TBT #ITG #PowerLung #BetterBreathing

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