1. Welcome, this is Terry Ewell. Study #9 presents many musical challenges. Perhaps the greatest challenge is coinciding breathing with musical phrasing. I encourage you to stop the video now and spend some time marking breaths in the music. Time spent doing this will educate you for future decisions about where to breathe in music.
2. By now you may have noticed in prior videos that I have marked breaths in the music. Too often students don’t consider where to breathe. Instead they play until a mistake is made, breathe, then continue until another mistake and breathe again. If practiced correctly, this study will force you to breathe only in musically appropriate places.
3. Let’s now lay down some general principles for where to breathe. Naturally as wind players we need air in our lungs to play the instrument and avoid from passing out. But beyond our physical need for air we should take into account musical places for the breaths.
1) Breaths should coincide with musical phrasing where possible.
2) Place breaths in musically consistent places.
3) As a last resort you can hide breaths between leaps, large intervals.
4. I hope you have examined study #9 already and determined the musical phrases. In Western music phrase endings are often indicated by a falling melodic line, longer note values at the end, and a harmonic cadence. Furthermore in this study areas of repetition provide an indication of phrases.
5. The study starts with two gestures, each has three eighth notes and ends with a half note. Measure 3 then continues with patterns of eighth notes until a half note on Eb4 which then descends to an Ab3 half note in the second measure of the second line. Many students are tempted to take the first breath after the Eb4 since at about that point the lungs need more air. However, that is the very worst place to breathe! The Eb4 is the climax of the pattern which started in measure 3 and clearly is not the end of the phrase. The phrase ends in the second measure of line 2.
Opening and start of line 2:
6. Complicating the issue, however, is the musical technique of “dovetailing.” Dovetailing is where the end of one melody overlaps the start of another melody. The term dovetail comes from carpentry where pieces of wood are joined together. The second measure of line 2 is thus two things: the end of the prior phrase and the start of the gestures we saw in the opening.
7. A breath is possible after the Ab3 in line 2, measure 2 but I think the best solution is to breathe after the second half note in line 2. For consistency sake, then I also breathe after the second half note in beginning.
8. The eighth note pattern started in line 1 measure 3 is repeated up a step in line 2, measure 3. This phrase ends in line 3, measure 2 on the downbeat. A quick breath here is appropriate.
9. A new pattern is then started in the music in line 3 measure 2. This is a sequence that ends at the top of the next page. A quick breath should be taken here.
Line 3 with sequence:
10. I won’t comment further on breathing here, but I encourage you to carefully study the breaths that I have indicated in the music. Consider the musical decisions I made.
11. Notice that staccato marks are provided after slurs in the first few measures. Although not marked through the rest of the study the leggiero mood with the light separation after the slurs should continue through the entire study.
12. “Play or practice only twenty-five minutes out of every thirty; get away from the instrument and do something else for the other five.” (William J. Dawson, Fit as a Fiddle, p. 45).
13. This is excellent advice! Personally my sessions are fifty minutes of practice followed by ten minutes of rest. This method has been an efficient way for me to practice for years. In addition, I often adjust my reeds during the practice session, which creates additional breaks from performing on the instrument. Remember that being a musician is not a sprint, rather it is a marathon. You must adopt healthy practice habits that will serve you well for many years.