Combined Respiratory Muscle Training for Brass Musicians: A Requisite Practice in Education and Performance
By Angie Aldarondo, President, Élan Breathworks Inc., 2022.
Playing a wind instrument requires accurate airflow control with regards to maintained pressures and volume. Adequate airflow control is achieved by respiratory muscle function, generally involving the diaphragm as well as the intercostal, abdominal, and accessory respiratory muscles. Evidence has shown that trumpet players have higher maximum respiratory pressures compared to their age matched controls, presumably due to the respiratory muscle training effects of playing a wind instrument [Fiz, 1993], underlining the importance of respiratory muscle function and strength in wind instrumentalists.
While the beneficial effects of different breathing exercises on wind instrumentalists are widely appreciated and are built into training regimes, specific respiratory muscle training exercises are currently not implemented to support or improve airflow control. Some evidence is available, however, which shows a significant effect of respiratory muscle training on respiratory muscle strength and increased flow use during performance, as well as changed timbre in saxophone players after respiratory muscle training [Dries, 2017]. Furthermore, respiratory muscle training was shown to improve pitch range and phonation time in brass instrument players [Yilmaz, 2020].
Based on these findings and preliminary data using the Breather, an inspiratory and expiratory muscle training device, we provide a rationale for the need for respiratory muscle strengthening in trumpet players and other wind instrumentalists in both education and performance practice. Combined respiratory muscle training (cRMT) has proven effective in improving breath control, phonation time, pressure generation, and volume control across disciplines, resulting in the ability to perform more challenging pieces. cRMT is currently undergoing further investigation in a range of clinical studies in voice professionals. Preliminary data of these studies will be shared in the presentation.
- Fiz JA, Aguilar J, Carreras A, Teixido A, Haro M, Rodenstein DO, et al. Maximum respiratory pressures in trumpet players. Chest. 1993;104: 1203–1204.
- Dries K, Vincken W, Loeckx J, Schuermans D, Dirckx J. Effects of a Respiratory Muscle Training Program on Respiratory Function and Musical Parameters in Saxophone Players. Journal of New Music Research. 2017;46: 381–393.
- Yilmaz C, Bostancı Ö, Bulut S. Effect of Respiratory Muscle Training on Pitch Range and Sound Duration in Brass Instrument Players and Singers. J Voice. 2020. doi:10.1016/j.jvoice.2020.04.012