Topic: Dizziness

I have a beginning student who is getting dizzy as she plays.  She played the flute before taking up oboe, and said that she also got dizzy when playing the flute.  Does anyone have any suggestions about how to prevent this?  It seems like nothing will take away a student's interest in the oboe faster than getting dizzy!

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Re: Dizziness

Well on the flute the problem would be due to waste of air, until one can control the air they are expelling, but on the oboe the reed kind of prevents that. However combining a resistant oboe reed with the uncontrollable force of air of an amateur flutist could lead to a great build up of pressure in the head that could cause dizziness. Been there, not fun.

If the student is doubling, the problem won't go away terribly quickly... or at all if she cannot control her flute embouchure. Having the student refrain from flute, if doubling, could help her gain control on the oboe. It will also have the side effect of when switching to flute at a later time of initially restricting her air flow on flute, but giving her better embouchure control so that hopefully she doesn't revert to a wind tunnel.

I have also experienced dizziness when playing in my garage once during summer and I believe it was probably due to the chemicals in there.  So the environment could be a consideration.

Last edited by sylvangale (2006-10-11 23:05:18)

Best Regards,
Stephen Kaupiko
Los Angeles, CA

Re: Dizziness

I have been known to have dizziness. Sometimes it was purely nerves. Sometimes improper breathing. (Sometimes both!) How old is the student? Sometimes the young ones I've had have a bit of dizziness and I suspect it's just not knowing how to deal with breathing and oboe, but since this one has played flute and had the same problem I guess that might not be the case. I wonder if the student is just hyperventilating. Perhaps try having the student take a breath, and then let out a bit of air before blowing through the reed.

PEM
http://www.oboeinsight.com
AIM: Patioboe

Re: Dizziness

This student is 15, and she has been playing the oboe for only one month.  She played the flute for about two years, but quit.  She has a very light reed--Jones brand.  We had just gone over breathing out, but I'm not certain whether she was putting it into practice yet.  So I'll encourage her to do more of that.  Maybe talking about breath support and focused air would help too.  Thank you for your suggestions.

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Re: Dizziness

You might also try having the student only play short phrases. Then gradually increase the length of phrases as she learns to pace her breathing and acquaint herself with the blowing pressures on the oboe.

Terry

Terry Ewell
Professor Bassoon, Towson University
Former President, IDRS
Former Principal Bassoon Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony

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Re: Dizziness

I'm finding that some of my newer, and younger students are quite fearful of running out of air. Does she express this concern at all? Just curious! Of course she's not as young as my "kiddos", but I'm wondering if that can come into play.

PEM
http://www.oboeinsight.com
AIM: Patioboe

Re: Dizziness

No, she hasn't been worried about running out of air.  I may be moving too quickly with her in having her play long phrases, though--that was a very good idea to have her play shorter phrases.

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Re: Dizziness

One of my problems as a young player was that I felt I could play "forever" without running out of air, but then I would feel like my lungs would explode if I didn't exhale.  Dizzyness was always an after effect.  Maybe your student is taking in fresh air without fully exhaling stale air.

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Re: Dizziness

I'm not sure if this relates to dizziness per se but as regards the stale air problem, I have on occasion found it necessary (in continuous running passagework such as Bach Suites), to choose a spot to exhale partially, in order to get a good uptake of fresh air a bar or two later. I suspect oboists find it more necessary than bassoonists (which I am). It may be the answer to make sure your student remembers to exhale all stale air before inhaling (this may well be possible to do at a single place rather than "staggering" the process over 2 places in the phrase.

Neville Forsythe
Christchurch New Zealand
Bassoonist / Teacher / Conductor

Re: Dizziness

I had a problem with forgetting to breathe in long Handel passages and getting very dizzy when I was younger. I'll agree with the "long phrase" thing, definitely need to build before you can do that.

Claire Binkley
Oboe/English Horn
West Chester University

Re: Dizziness

When I was a young player I actually hyperventilated while playing the oboe. I never had this problem with the bassoon since I usually was pushing a great deal of air through the instrument. One of the early techniques I try to introduce to my "baby ducks" is the exhale concept. I use an upside down breath mark. I also explain carefully that if they don't do it, their body will begin to trick them into thinking they need MORE air when they really need to exhale first.  It will all snow ball into a small air intake, no different than breathing with the shoulders and not full diaphramic breath.

Lori Olson-Putz
Dual Player

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