A lot of nonsense has been written (and taught) about the mechanics of breathing when playing musical wind instruments. It has even been suggested by some that one’s star sign can be consulted in order to determine personal “breathing type” (Hagener, 2016 & n.d.)

A refreshing series of articles by Will Kimbell (2014), an outstanding orchestral trombonist and pedagogue, summarises only points that have been tested and documented to affect measurable lung capacity, function, or mechanics. In these articles, Kimball has made a deliberate effort to document thoroughly, using only medical sources. Many of his findings are applicable to recorder playing and will repay careful reading.

The DVD produced by Spahn et al. will enable visualisation of the physical and physiological processes involved in playing a number of wind instruments, including the recorder (Spahn, Richter, Pöppe, Echternach, 2013).

Visualisation of the action of the diaphragm and rib-cage during respiration

A notable feature of the recorder is the lack of resistance to air pressure afforded by the instrument itself. In this, it is very unlike other wind instruments and more like the voice. Learning to control the release of a steady stream of air under tension without such a back-pressure to assist is very demanding indeed. Nonetheless, it is an essential preliminary to effective control of intonation and response.


This bibliography concerns breathing on the recorder. A more convenient and flexible way of exploring it is via the Zotero citation database underlying this web-site. The Zotero interface is straightforward to use and allows you to export selected entries in a variety of formats and to create your own citation lists in a range of journal styles. All you need is your web-browser. This will be of particular assistance to students and researchers.

  • Boubaker, Heddy. 2015. “Leçons de respiration circulaire [Circular breathing lessons].” Heddy Boubaker. Accessed June 5.
  • Bowman, Peter. 1995. “The Art of Breathing.” Recorder Magazine 15 (2): 51–53.
  • Bowman, Peter. 2007. “Producing a Sound on the Recorder.” Recorder Magazine 14 (1): 8–9.
  • Bowman, Peter. 2017. “Towards a Musical Breath.” Recorder  Magazine 37 (2): 50–52.
  • Breukink, Adriana. 2016. “Mouthpieces.Adriana Breukink, Recorder Maker.
  • Clark, Karen. 2007. “Breath and Posture: A Practice in Awareness.” Recorder Education Journal 13: 12–13.
  • Clark, Paul. 1980. “Yodelling for the Recorder Player.” Recorder & Music 6 (9): 264–65.
  • Delker, Elisabeth. 1980. Ansätze zur Untersuchung dynamischer Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten auf der Blockflöte [Approaches to the investigation of dynamic possibilities of expression on the recorder]. Celle: Moeck.
  • Edler-Busch, Elli. 1981. “‘Blasdruck’ oder ‘druckschwacher Ansatz’?” [‘Breath Pressure’ or ‘Weak-pressure Blowing’?]. Tibia 6 (2): 319–27.
  • Fischer, Johannes. 1993. “Vom Traum der Unendlichkeit, oder Versuch einer Anleitung zur Zirkuläratmung für Blockflötisten [On the Dream of Endlessness; or, Introductory Essay on Circular Breathing for Recorder Players].” Tibia 18 (1): 346–51
  • Gray, Arlen. 1965. “Air for the Recorder.” American Recorder 6 (1): 6–8.
  • Hagener, Christian. 2016. “Eine neue Atemtechnik für mehr Gesundheit und Lebensfreude.”
  • Hagener, Christian, Charlotte Hagener, and Erich Wilk. n.d. “Terusollogie.
  • Hajncl, Jeanette. 1998. “Don’t Panic! Or, Why Recorder Players Do Not Need to ‘Take a Breath.’” Recorder  Magazine 18 (1): 10–11.
  • Hake, Nicoline. 1989. Atem und Atemübung, Die Atmung und ihre Beeinflussung durch Atembüngen [Breath and breathing exercise: Breathing and how it is influenced by breathing exercises.]. Münster: Mieroprint EM 3034.
  • Hauwe, Walter van. 1984–1992. The Modern Recorder Player. 3 vols. London: Schott Edition 12150, 12270, 12361.
  • Heyens, Gudrun. 2005. Advanced Recorder Technique – the Art of Playing the Recorder. Translated by Peter Bowman. Vol. 1: Finger and tongue technique. 2: Breathing and sound. London: Schott Music.
  • Holderbach, Brunhilde, and Anzy Heidrun Holderbach. 2017. Musik & Atemtyp: Handbuch entwickelt aus der Erfahrungswelt Blockflöte [Music & respiratory type, manual developed from the experience of the recorder]. Norderstedt: BoD-Books on Demand.
  • Katchmartchi, Wladimir. 1993. “Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Permanentatmung” [On the Developmental History of Breathing with Permanent Exhalation]. Tibia 18 (1): 341–46.
  • Kimball, Will. 2014. “10 Ways to Improve Breathing: Studies from the Scientific Field.Will Kimball, Trombone.
  • Kimball, Will. 2014. “Respiratory Training for Musicians.Will Kimball, Trombone.
  • Linde, Hans-Martin. 1984. Handbuch des Blockflötenspiels [The recorder player’s handbook]. 2nd ed. Mainz, New York: Schott.
  • Linde, Hans-Martin. 1991. The Recorder Player’s Handbook. 2nd ed. London: Schott ED12322.
  • Lodes, Hiltrude. 2001. “Hiltrude Lodes on Breathing Correctly.” Edited by Eva Legêne. Recorder Education Journal 7: 2–7.
  • Lodes, Hiltrude. 2000. Atme Richtig: Der Schlüssel Zu Gesundheit Und Ausgeglichenheit [Breathe Properly: The Key to Health and Balance]. Goldmann.
  • Mayer-Spohn, Ulrike, and Keitaro Takahashi. 2014. “The Recorder Map.”
  • Montoya, Kathryn. 2003. “Song and Wind: Effective Breathing and Tone Production for Singers and Woodwind Players.” Recorder Education Journal 9: 8–13.
  • Read, Robin. 1966. “Recorder Tone.” Recorder and Music Magazine 2 (1): 7–9.
  • Rüdiger, Wolfgang. 2005. “I. The Art of Breathing: Psycho-Physical Functions and Breathing Exercises.” Translated by Eva Legêne. Recorder Education Journal 11: 18–31.
  • Rüdiger, Wolfgang. 2006. “Musical Breath.” Translated by Eva Legêne. Recorder Education Journal 12: 21–32.
  • Rüdiger, Wolfgang. 2003. “Musical Breathing in the Eighteenth Century.” Translated by Eva Legêne. Recorder Education Journal 9: 2–7.
  • Spahn, Claudia, Bernhard Richter, Johannes Pöppe, and Matthias Echternach. 2013. Das Blasinstrumentenspiel – physiologische Vorgänge und Einblicke ins Körperinnere/ Physiological Insights for Players of Wind Instruments. DVD. Innsbruck – Esslingen – Bern-Belp: Helbling Verlag.
  • Tutschek, Irmgard-Maria. 2013. “Windgeschwindigkeiten [Wind speeds].” Windkanal, no. 2.
  • Waitzman, Daniel. 1978. The Art of Playing the Recorder. New York: AMS Press.
  • Wollitz, Ken. 1982. The Recorder Book. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Wyatt, Theo. 1991. “The Unatural Descant.” Recorder  Magazine 21 [marked 21a] (4): 146–47.
  • Zimmermann, Manfredo. n.d. “Atem(führung) und Stütze” [Breath (Management) and Support].” In Internationale Grazer Blockflötentage, Vorträge und Dokumentation[First International Grazer Recorder Days, Lectures and Documentation], 7.

Cite this article as: Lander, Nicholas S. 1996–2024. Recorder Home Page: Technique: Breathing. Last accessed 12 July 2024.