I use a few different tools to help me during my daily routine. Most of these tools are standard, however I’ve modified most of them to be more beneficial for my concept of playing.
The Breathing Tube
Most people recommend using a breathing tube that is 1 inch wide PVC pipe. The thought process is that the large tube will help create a larger column of air. The size of breathing that I found to be most effective is the 3/4 inch wide PVC. The smaller tube provides some advantages from the wider PVC pipes. The first advantage is that the smaller pipe allows me to produce a higher pressure vacuum, which will actually help to suck the air into my lungs. The second advantage is that it prevents me from dropping my jaw any further than absolutely needed. The inside of the larger tube is about 7/8 of an inch, whereas the smaller tube is about 5/8 of an inch.
The Breathing Tube with Resistance
I have been using an Ultrabreathe for many years now. The best feature about this device is the ability to independently control the resistance of the inhalation and exhalation. I have modified my Ultrabreathe to accommodate my normal breathing tube, and not the stock mouth guard that comes with the unit.
Some teachers recommend a PVC-valve for breathing, as shown below. Although this does allow you to change the resistance, it does so with both the inhalation and exhalation at the same time. It also is a bit difficult to fine tune any degree of change.
The Breathing Bag
I use the standard 6 liter breathing bag from Wind Song Press with a few modifications. The first modification attaching my standard PVC breathing tube. This is just a personal preference, but I find the consistent feel helps transition between exercises. The second modification is the addition of a balloon to the bag. This allows for a larger exhalation capacity without having to fight the “stretch” of the rubber bag. Instead of the 90 degree bend that comes with the bag, I installed a “T” joint (see below). This allows me to attach the bag to the bottom outlet and the balloon to the third outlet.
I use two main types of buzzing tubes, one is rubber pipe (again from your local hardware store), the second is a metal leadpipe from an old tuba.
I cut the rubber tube to match the length of my CC tuba leadpipe. I then cut a small hole about 3-4 inches from one end. This hole allows for a smoother buzz in multiple registers. If you do not cut this hole, you will notice a large break between registers. The second purpose of this hole is that it allows you to add resistance and stability to lower register buzzing.
The metal leadpipe is a more stable blow and closely mimics the feel of blowing into the tuba. I typically change between these two about half-way through my buzzing routine, again to smooth the transition between the buzzing and the horn itself.