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Alan Day

Breathing in and out to the bellows

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I remember quite clearly when I first started to play the Anglo that I was breathing in and out to the bellows movement .

The only problem was that on a long run push or pull I would be gasping for breath. Certain tunes I would be absolutely exhausted by the time I finished.

I managed to solve it by not playing the instrument at all . Taking deep breaths in and out and imagining that I was playing ,but keeping regular breathing. After some time I managed to cure myself of the habit ,which is just as well as I may have died from exhaustion.

Al

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When I don't try to sing along, I have no problem breathing.  However, when I try to self-accompany, it's a disaster....Can't go to a higher note without inhaling.  Even worse when I try to sing along with my harmonica.....Actually helped move me to Hayden duet.

 

I'll try your method.  Thanks!

 

David

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I used to do this when learning the melodeon years ago. At some point the need to breathe at the same time went away. Its a hilarious idea really. 

  

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This used to happen to me. I didn't realise it except occasionally when the bellows were close to being completely closed as I tried to get to the end of a phrase. Then I would find my lungs had run out of air too.

 

It doesn't happen any more. I don't know whether that's because I've developed better bellows control, got better quality instruments which have an ample air supply, or that I've just grown out of it.

 

LJ

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Me too. I grew out of it eventually. I don't recall doing anything special to cure this. I suspect that as I became more proficient the bellows changes became more automatic, and as I wasn't consciously thinking about it my breathing became normal.


I suspect this is a common affliction for novice players of push-pull instruments.

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Posted (edited)

Hey I'm glad it is not just me then, as I suffer greatly from this and it is really holding me back on Anglo over nearly three years. I guess though it is not as bad as it once was.

 

It creates a kind of tension which is hopeless, especially with ITM as air difficulties interfere greatly with phrasing, fluidity and rhythm.

 

Sometimes when practising I just stop, put the Anglo down, and carry out some stretching, relaxing and breathing exercises before continuing, and it seems to help.

 

Many many years ago I too recall having this problem with Melodeon and it eventually went away so I am hopeful. In the past I also played Chromatic Harmonica as well which has probably not helped (on English Concertina though, no problems at all).

 

I have tried the remedies usually recommended e.g. singing a continuous note, or taking a steady breath in one direction, while playing a scale. Difficult to do,  but without result really.

 

Ah well, press on...

Edited by Robin Tims
text improvement

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On 7/2/2020 at 7:21 AM, Jake Middleton-Metcalfe said:

I used to do this when learning the melodeon years ago. At some point the need to breathe at the same time went away. Its a hilarious idea really. 

  

Same here.

 

I guess that darwinism eventually "filters out" those peole who do not overcome it!

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5 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

Same here.

 

I guess that darwinism eventually "filters out" those peole who do not overcome it!

 

Thanks for that Clive. Really helpful thought if not a very empathetic one.

 

Maybe nurture will prove better than nature here.

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On 7/3/2020 at 7:51 PM, Robin Tims said:

 

Thanks for that Clive. Really helpful thought if not a very empathetic one.

 

Maybe nurture will prove better than nature here.

Robin,

I'm sure you'll be just fine - as long as you don't stop breathing when you stop playing!

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One way of not catching the virus is to play every thing on the push 🙂

Al

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When I started playing, and this lungs/bellows thing was an issue, I would play simple tunes ("Twinkle twinkle", "Oh Susannah", whatever) at a slow pace and just concentrate on breathing steadily while I played.  This helped to decouple the functioning of my lungs with the operation of the bellows.  It is sort of a humorous problem, but a problem nonetheless.

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I struggle not to breathe in and out with my playing on the harmonica.

 

On the Anglo, it was a real struggle at first. I haven't thought about it for ages so I guess it's stopped being a problem.  Now this post has made me think about it, I'll probably regress.

 

One of our Morrismen was playing a difficult tune on his melodeon once when one of the lads said, "I'll buy you a pint if you tell me what you want without stopping the tune."

 

The player went red in the face as he struggled to speak and then, in frustration, shouted "Sh*t!"  I think he got a pint of Bass, which is near enough.

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Posted (edited)

I had this problem at the start, too. Lungs at bursting-point when the bellows was fully extended, slumped over when it was closed. I assumed that this was because I had learned the mouth organ at a very early age, and my "breathing apparatus" was programmed to blow when a note lay within the tonic chord, and otherwise to draw air in.

The situation improved when I discovered  that I could control the expenditure of air using the concertina's air button, much as I did with my nose on the harmonica. This helped me avoid extreme bellows movement.

(Another advantage of learning the harmonica first was that I knew my way about the intricasies of the Richter scale, and could find tunes on the Anglo almost right away.) 

What probably solved the breathing problem - and that very quickly - was the fact that, like most instruments I've taken up, the Anglo was intended as a song accompaniment. Needless to say, my motivation to achieve normal breathing while playing was high!

Cheers,

John 

Edited by Anglo-Irishman
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