Start simple. Get students properly inhaling, exhaling and developing a properly moving stream of air. To start:
Establish clear and proper posture. I would recommend that this is done in the manner a student performs. If it is a flute player, use sitting posture, if it is a percussionist (yes, I said percussionist) practice doing this standing.
Next, instruct students to relax their upper body and breathe in through their mouth. Emphasize an open throat, a lowered tongue and a cavern sounding inhalation. Now, release with a relaxed exhalation.
Create a visual that students should think about. For example, do this by instructing students to breathe all the way down to the bottom of the chair.
Clarify that when students breathe the air should continuously flow in and out. This should be accomplished without holding stagnant air within the body. The air should be supported (exhaling with warm air.)
Next, have students extend their arm with their palm facing them. They should envision their hand as a target and their air stream hitting the center of their palm. They should continue to envision the air coming back to them like a yo-yo, (back into their lungs.) Students should reflect on what the air stream is doing. As a result, this aids in the students’ ability to visualize playing through phrases and notational barriers.
As an introduction into breathing exercises, try using this activity to a variety of counts and tempos daily for at least three weeks. Encourage students to take full breaths and turn the air around quickly on the exhale.
The purpose of stretching includes:
Prepare for and release extraneous body tension
To get the blood flowing throughout the body
Stretch the required muscles used in musical performance
When practicing breathing exercises remember to start simple and expand into something more complex. For example
Inhale 4, Exhale 4 (8 times)
In 4 Out 4 8 X
Inhale 8, Exhale 8 (8 times)
In 8 Out 8 8 X