I remember my first ever Music Lesson that covered Breathing and Effective Air Use.

In the lesson I was handed a Breathing Bag.

It scared me from the end of my hair to the tips of my toes. Why it Scared Me- I’m Not Sure. But I was Intimidated by this glorified Ziplock bag that had a Tube Attached.

Breathing Bag

Here’s a Modern Day Breathing Bag. Some Modifications but the Principal is Still the Same.

I was Asked to Fill the Breathing Bag completely full of Air. No way could I get enough Oxygen inside my small 12 year old body to Fill It. I felt Doomed to Fail and Lightheaded from not breathing properly.

At the end of the lesson I was told to take it home and continue to try to fill it. Quantity of Air was all that Mattered. The bag cost me $45. Not my best lesson.

Fast Forward to Present Day and I’ve grown to understand Air Stream in relation to Tone Colors, Intonation and Dynamics.

And although the cost has gone down for Breathing Bags I have found a better option. In the Lessons I teach I use Balloons rather than Breathing Bags!

Balloon Animals
Balloon Dog and Giraffe. Perfect Example of My Life! 🙂

I’m aware that How a Student Feels is directly related to their Progress.

Positive Experiences Progress Faster.

Balloons bring up ideas of Parties and Celebrations- Happy Events and Happy Thoughts.

Much less Intimidating than a Breathing Bag and Less Expensive!

Bucket of Balloons

In the lessons I teach I place a Bucket of Balloons in front of the student, let them choose their color of balloon, and ask them about their balloon experiences. Smiles Stretch Across Their Faces as they tell me stories of water balloon fights and birthday cakes.

Then, We Begin working on Our Breath Support.

We Practice Breathing Low and Deep into the Belly for Tone Colors.

Exhaling into the Balloons.

We Race Fast and Slow Air Speeds for Intonation.

Slow Air: Low Notes

Fast Air: High Notes

Too Slow Air for the High Register and the notes are flat. Too Fast for the Low Register and the Low Notes are Sharp.

And We Even Do Vibrato Pulses into the Balloon. 

For a more in-depth look at how I use Balloons, I’ve created a YouTube Tutorial so you can follow along in the Steps.

And Happy Bassoon-ing, Everybody!

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