Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Aaron Tindall

Second Committee Member

Timothy M. Conner

Third Committee Member

Gabriel Beavers

Fourth Committee Member

D. Scott Stinson


The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of the effects on the respiratory system caused by breathing exercises popular among musicians and to definitively classify which exercises are helpful or hurtful to the asthmatic wind instrumentalist in order that s/he may cope with the difficulties of performing with the breathing disorder. First the identification of breathing exercises most frequently used by wind instrumentalists was necessary to broaden the definition of breathing pedagogy for musicians from all families of woodwind and brass instruments. This was assessed by way of a voluntary pilot survey in which participants indicated the breathing exercises, breath training devices, and breathing pedagogies with which they were familiar and used on a regular basis to train the breath. Once this summary of popular breathing exercises was compiled, a series of interviews were conducted with medical experts in the field of pulmonology to discuss physiological and pathophysiological processes present in the respiratory system during and after these exercises. Finally the body of research in asthma and sports medicine or kinesiology was reviewed in an effort to extrapolate as much information as possible for application to asthmatics in the musical realm. The survey results yielded an encouraging summary of breathing exercises that were further categorized according to their intended goals, including relaxation breathing exercise, stress-inducing breathing exercises, maximum expansion breathing exercises, and maximum contraction breathing exercises. Interviewees agreed that while the relaxation exercises compiled from the survey were indeed conducive to mitigating asthma symptoms, those that induced a degree of stress or tension in the body had the capacity to trigger symptoms. The verdict on effectiveness of maximum expansion and maximum contraction exercises was inconclusive as adequate research was insufficient to characterize either as hurtful or harmful. The collection of this information will be instrumental in designing a testing scenario for future study and iterations of this type of research in breathing exercises. From the summary of popular breathing exercises gathered, control exercises can be extracted from the relaxation category to observe lung function in a normal setting, while stress-inducing exercises, maximum expansion exercises, and maximum contraction exercises may be used to track a participant’s lung function over a period of time. The goal would be to produce hard evidence that certain breathing exercises should be struck from the regimen of breath training used by asthmatic wind instrumentalists.


Music; Performance; Asthma; Breathing; Exercise; Pedagogy