The Breathing Book presents anatomically accurate descriptions of breathing paired with musical applications. There are images with verbal descriptions of each facet of breathing followed by musical examples incorporating each breathing element. embedded within the musical examples are reminders about the breathing information so musicians can begin to breathe based upon anatomical reality rather than vague metaphor.
Unfortunately, there are many misunderstandings about breathing embedded in traditional pedagogy.The Breathing Book strives to correct those misunderstandings in order to enhance breath support.
Here is a sample of the philosophy behind The Breathing Book:
When the ribs move in conjunction with the diaphragm’s descent, air is brought into the body. It is the movement of the ribs and diaphragm and subsequent expansion of the thoracic cavity which causes air to come into the body.
Air coming into the body does not cause the ribs and diaphragm to move – that’s backwards.
The lungs don’t do anything by themselves – they depend upon surrounding structures (the ribs and diaphragm) to move. If it weren’t for the ribs and diaphragm moving, the lungs would just sit there like a liver or an appendix.
Quotes by well-known oboists about the book
“The Breathing Book is a “must-read” for oboists of all levels, from students to professional performers. Stephen Caplan has clearly defined and clarified the complexities of proper breathing and posture, with all of the exercises having been carefully crafted and sequenced to achieve the optimal performance results.” Carolyn Hove – Solo English Horn, Los Angeles Philharmonic
“As oboists, everything we do rests on the air we breathe, and comes from that. The Breathing Book cleverly explains many easy-to-practice exercises which will help to improve any oboist’s approach to this, the core of our technique.” Gordon Hunt – International soloist and Principal Oboe of The Philharmonia Orchestra, London
“Dr. Stephen Caplan’s new book, The Breathing Book, is an oboe-specific guide to all things having to do with breathing and tone production. Stephen says that understanding breath is the key to improving every aspect of oboe playing and I certainly agree. His book has thirty lessons with informative and clever explanations and exercises that address many breathing issues we deal with in playing as well as teaching. I only wish I had these lessons myself when starting out my oboe playing career. I also could have used this kind of resource early on in my teaching. It certainly would have helped de-mystify the process of teaching breathing and support. I think that a student’s study of this subject would be more complete when paired with Stephen’s Oboemotions text on Body Mapping. Standing on its own, however, The Breathing Book is a great resource of lessons with great examples from long tone exercises, to Barret etudes, to excerpts from Telemann and Tschaikovsky that apply to each of the lessons. This book is easy to read, to understand, and to apply to the oboe. Congratulations and a big “thank you” to Stephen for providing us all with such a terrific resource.” Dr. Mark S. Ostoich, Professor of Music, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
“For the hundreds of years that instruction on wind instruments has been given, most good teachers have tried to stress the overriding importance of having superb wind. One can only begin to imagine all the practices and images that have been expressed in many languages and in different types of societies. Just as a player’s level of playing is no better than his intonation, the overall quality of one’s playing is also dependent upon the wind stream. On the oboe, as we all know by now, you need well prepared air to begin a note, to continue it decently, and to end it as it should be ended. However, there is so much else to think about and to work on, that this all-important factor is often not what it could be in us. In The Breathing Book, Stephen Caplan has given our evolving tribe of oboists a valuable tool which will be of great benefit. It offers an extremely clear and accurate picture of the parts of one’s body that are involved in our breathing and our playing and guides us to putting these into practice with some of our favorite melodies and scale patterns. Our knowledge and awareness of our bodies can increase both while playing and not playing the oboe. Many fuzzy notions, not to speak of complete misconceptions, are cleared up with the aid of wonderful illustrations and language that speaks from an oboist to oboists. Stephen’s writing style is engaging, convincing, and communicates with a variety of tones, just like good oboe playing. It is wonderful that this book gives us a series of practical exercises to help focus on the quality of one’s breathing. We may know about how we should breathe while playing the oboe, but, if we forget to practice our daily exercises, we might not really do it well when it most matters, say, in a concert when we can be a little preoccupied. Of course we will learn a lot in the 30 days of (a little) work that Stephen recommends, but we should find our own ways to carry this into the rest of our days. We owe this to all the people who listen to us play our great and difficult instrument.” Allan Vogel – Principal Oboe, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Faculty – California Institute of the Arts, Colburn Conservatory of Music, and the University of Southern California
About the Author
Stephen Caplan’s personal journey towards understanding breathing and its effect on musical performance began when he moved from Louisiana to attend college in Chicago. There he studied oboe privately with Ray Still, who was the Principal Oboist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and was known for his effortless breath control. Caplan also took private breathing lessons with the CSO’s Principal Tuba player Arnold Jacobs, a recognized authority on the subject. Afterwards, in London, Caplan received tips on breathing from Lady Evelyn Barbirolli, a prestigious oboe soloist and author of the three volume Oboist’s Companion. But it wasn’t until many years later, when he studied with the creator of Body Mapping, Barbara Conable, that he began to fully understand breathing. “Body Mapping demystified breathing, and made every aspect of oboe playing easier for me,” says Caplan.