Circular Breathing for musicians - practical skills
5.0 (4 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
269 students enrolled
Wishlisted Wishlist

Please confirm that you want to add Circular Breathing for musicians - practical skills to your Wishlist.

Add to Wishlist

Circular Breathing for musicians - practical skills

Circular breathing for Didgeridoo and other instruments. Can also be used to help snoring and sleep apnea.
5.0 (4 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
269 students enrolled
Last updated 1/2015
Current price: $10 Original price: $25 Discount: 60% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Use circular breathing confidently
  • Apply skills learned to a number of different instruments
  • Help combat snoring and sleep apnea
View Curriculum
  • A desire to learn how to use circular breathing
  • A didgeridoo or other appropriate instrument to practice on
  • Some time to practice

Follow the videos in order and learn how to use circular breathing.

Circular breathing is an essential part of playing instruments like the Didgeridoo but can be useful for many other instruments: woodwind, brass, etc.

Clear Lectures / Videos

It's available for PC or MAC and there is an iPad and iPhone app ready to go!

(Android app is coming soon).

Keeping track of which videos(lectures) you have already watched is so easy.

Udemy has a great way of keeping track of your completed lessons(lectures).

The entire course is organized in step-by-step and easy to follow layout.

Who is the target audience?
  • Useful to all musicians who would like to use circular breathing
  • Didgeridoo players
  • Learning circular breathing has been shown to help reduce snoring and sleep apnea
Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed
Curriculum For This Course
17 Lectures
Circular Breathing for musicians - practical skills for everyone
9 Lectures 51:20

What is circular breathing and how do we achieve it?

It is NOT possible to breathe in and out at the same time so you must adapt the body to engage this seemingly simple but surprisingly complex method. I have worked with many people over a long period of time to really get to the 'nitty gritty' as to what makes this technique easier to learn.

It is all a 'trick'. Our body controls our breathing 24/7 at a very deep sub-conscious level so we need to find ways to go in and take careful control of this mechanism. I have found this process is very analogous to learning to drive a manual (stick shift) car. At first, any time we push in the clutch pedal it can be a struggle to co-ordinate the movement of the gear stick with the release of the clutch pedal - leading to a frustrating 'kangaroo' bounce along the road in the car!

I will start with VERY simple exercises that can be tried pretty well anytime and will not need a didgeridoo.

Preview 02:18

How to get the most from this, and any of my courses, on Udemy.

Preview 07:58

Learning to use circular breathing (and playing the didgeridoo) have been medically linked to a reduction in symptoms experienced with snoring and sleep apnea*.

The exercises, and the actual process of using circular breathing, help to tone the muscles of the throat and this is believed to help reduce nocturnal snoring and can even lessen the severity of sleep apnea.

* Here is a link to the main article published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal)

BMJ Article


No advice

This article and lecture contains general information about medical conditions and treatments.The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.

Limitation of warranties

The medical information in this article and lecture is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied.J Cope makes no representations or warranties in relation to the medical information on this website.

Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, J Cope does not warrant that:

the medical information on this website will be constantly available, or available at all; or

the medical information on this website is complete, true, accurate, up-to-date, or non-misleading.

Professional assistance

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.


Nothing in this medical disclaimer will limit any of our liabilities in any way that is not permitted under applicable law, or exclude any of our liabilities that may not be excluded under applicable law.


This document was created using a Contractology template available at

Preview 04:38

Getting started with circular breathing.

We need to re-educate the body / mind as to what is possible with the breath mechanism:

  1. We can hold air inside our mouths, with inflated cheeks, and close off the back of the throat so that the air does not pass into the oesophagus and make us burp.
  2. Holding air like this we can easily breathe in and out through our nostrils*
  3. Hold air in the mouth as above and instead of breathing through the nose we will use cheek tension to deflate the cheeks through a pursed mouth to squeeze the air out.
  4. You might like to imagine you are spitting water slowly out of your mouth, in fact alot of folks have great success by actually doing this and spitting a mouthful of water out into a sink to access this technique.
  5. Work on the spitting part until you can make a cheekfull of air last half a second or so of spitting.
  6. Now here comes the fun part! We need to spit and sniff in at the same time.
  7. You may find this easier if you carry on with a slow cheek squeeze / spit and then just choose to sniff in during that time.
  8. It is essential that you master the spit / sniff before moving on so practice as much as you need until you can do it easily.

* Now is the time to discover if you have clear nasal passages and sinuses or not! If you have problems getting air in through your nose then circular breathing will be a real challenge. See the PDF download for ideas on how to solve this.

Circular breathing - beginnings

In these lectures I will be using a didgeridoo but you may wish to learn using the instrument that you hope to use circular breathing with.

I'm going to suggest that you may wish to create a simple 'pipe didgeridoo' to experience these exercises simply before you take them to your instrument of choice.

Throughout the lectures, and in the notes, I will refer to didgeridoos but a high percentage of these comments are also applicable to other instruments that use CB. I will be addressing a number of factors, in the last lecture, that will affect how you use CB on certain instruments. So learning with a 'didgeridoo' first will allow you to discover CB before you adapt it for your own use.
Circular breathing - what to practice on?

Let's start using the didgeridoo with these techniques.

Okay so now the next challenges:

  1. Find your normal drone position on the didge and blow for a while.
  2. Now close the back of your throat and use the cheeks to 'spit / squeeze' some air down the didgeridoo - this will probably sound terrible and nothing like your drone but don't worry too much.
  3. Now open your throat and blow a normal drone again.

This is the process of CB but with gaps between the spit sound and the normal drone.

  1. Now try the spit / sniff with your mouth on the didge. This will also probably sound nothing like your normal drone. Keep trying it and then alternate between doing this and blowing a normal drone.
  2. Try to really feel the difference between the spit/sniff and the drone - how do your lips feel?, what is their tension?, what about the air pressure and speed?
  3. Keep moving between spit/sniff and drone until the spit/sniff starts to have a sound closer to your normal drone.
  4. You could even practice just your spit or cheek squeeze on the didgeridoo. Don't worry about the sniff / inhale and just work on making the air you spit down the didge into a normal sounding drone.
Circular breathing - take it to the didge!

Starting to close the gaps between breathing and sniffing.

As we saw in the previous lecture, we can create a cycle of normal blown drone / spit&sniff / normal blown drone, etc. This becomes CB but with gaps, now we must start to close up those gaps and create the continuous drone we are seeking. Here are a couple of ways to achieve this:

  1. Start the cycle of drone / spit&sniff / drone and really make sure you get the best sound from your spit&sniff. The closer it is to your normal drone the better.
  2. Ensure that your spit sound lasts at least half a second.
  3. When you start your sniff is probably as long as your spit - your body is trying to breathe in a normal inhalation - you need to re-educate this into a shorter and more shallow sniff.
  4. Imagine you are sniffing a bad smell! You will not want a big lung-full just a short shallow sniff.
  5. Try to time the sniff so that it comes in quickly at the beginning of your spit/squeeze and has stopped before your spit/squeeze has finished. These two factors ensure you have a buffer of air / sound from your spit/squeeze to keep the drone going whilst you recover into opening your throat and blowing a normal drone. This is one of the most important parts of CB!
  6. One of the key ways to help close the gaps is to speed up the whole cycle - think of an old steam train pulling out of a station - the chuff chuff getting slowly faster and faster.
  7. Practice makes perfect. Most folks take about a week to 10 days over this part so don't rush it or get too frustrated.
Circular breathing - closing the gaps

Smoothing out the gaps and creating a smooth sound.

Okay so if you have put in plenty of practice you probably now have a cycle of drone - spit/sniff - drone that has started to join up into a continuous sound. Maybe it is a bit 'lumpy' or you can only maintain it for a little while before it breaks down. Let's look at improving further.Watch this lecture and try to follow along with me at various speeds.

Circular breathing - making it smoother

Practice, practice, practice!

If you are really serious about playing didgeridoo then good control of CB (circular breathing) is pretty essential so really put the hours in to make yours solid and dependable. There are a few people who are very lucky and CB comes naturally to them in just a few days but most folks take at least 2 weeks to really get it happening well.

If you have a busy life and cannot practice on the didge every day then at least try to practice without one, I'll show you how in this lecture.

Circular breathing - practice every day
'Advanced' styles of circular breathing
6 Lectures 29:52

Further refinements and improvements.

If your CB is progressing really well then you might not need this technique but check it out anyway as it is pretty useful in other ways.

You will have worked out or noticed then when you make your CB transition, from blowing to squeezing and back, that you need to close and open the back of your throat. This is achieved in part by your soft palette at the upper back of your mouth but your tongue plays and important role too. The tongue has to move to the back of the throat so that the rear part of your tongue can close with your velum. When you go back to open-throated blowing the tongue must move back away from the rear of the mouth.

I call this motion 'piston tongue' as the tongue moves back and forth like the piston in an engine. If we can isolate and control this motion we can make big improvements to our CB transition.

Try to play your normal drone with your tongue slightly forward near the back of your teeth. The, when you go to make an inhalation/sniff with your CB, your tongue jumps rapidly back to close with the velum / soft palette. Aim to make your sniff very short as before and shoot your tongue back forward as fast as you can.

This way our tongue rests in a forward position during most of our playing (unless we are using for other techniques) and makes this rapid back and forth motion for only the time it takes to take a rapid sniff in.

Circular breathing - the tongue 'piston'

How to create circular breath without using the cheeks.

This more advanced technique can be very useful if we want little interruption to the drone quality or if we needs the cheeks flat for techniques like harmonics or fast tongue articulations.

We will learn how to use the upward motion of the jaw to provide the burst of air, with a closed throat, whilst we sniff in.

Circular breathing - 'chew' breathing

How to make it effortless and what happens when you run into problems.

Circular breathing - final stages and common problems

Breathing when you need to.

Most didge players start out playing patterns or phrases and just breathing when they feel the need.

This will be demonstrated in this lecture, along with it's good and bad points.

Circular breathing - on demand breathing

How to create more complex patterns by using this technique.

As we have seen with 'on demand' breathing we can be limited to the need to pull in air at certain points and finding breaks can sometimes be a challenge. On demand breathing can even create breaks where we don't want them.

The technique of pulse breathing overcomes these issues and can free the player to play different timings and patterns more freely. It also allows increasingly rapid playing.

Circular breathing - 'pulse' breathing

Check your progress before moving on.

Circular breathing Skills Test
Using CB with other instruments
2 Lectures 16:22

Using CB (circular breathing) on other instruments should be reasonably straight forward if you already play those instruments. This lecture will look at a few of the common applications and associated problems.

Circular breathing - adapting to other instruments

Adapt your CB skills to use with a variety of other instruments.

Circular breathing - adapting to other instruments part 2
About the Instructor
Jonathan (Jonny) Cope
4.8 Average rating
65 Reviews
877 Students
7 Courses
Professional musician and teacher

Hello - my name is Jonny Cope but everyone calls me 'The Didgeridoo Man'.

I have been playing didgeridoo professionally for over twenty years, am the author of a best-selling range of tuition materials and have taught thousands of people, young and old, to play the didgeridoo. My tuition method has been published as a book since 1999, a cassette (if anyone remembers those!), a CD, and a DVD in 2007. These have been distributed the world over and reached and helped tens of thousand of people.

I also use and teach a variety of other instruments and techniques: Overtone singing, Throat singing (also know as Khoomei), the Jews Harp, ethnic winds and flutes, small percussion, etc.

I have published book & CD tuition methods on Khoomei / overtone singing and playing the Jews Harp.

Students taking my course may contact me via the forum on each course with questions or comments and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.

Having studied with several well-known international players and Australian Aboriginal Elders, I have been teaching all levels of this increasingly popular instrument for the past fifteen years via international workshops, 1-2-1 lessons and even Skype webcam.

I have given performances and presented workshops at music festivals and events, corporate team building days, charity balls, weddings and family fun days throughout Europe. I also regularly teach in UK schools via my educational program.

My clients include many blue-chip companies, schools, education authorities and charities, not to mention a few famous folks (no I can't drop any names!).

My Youtube channel has had nearly 3 million views with 3 thousand subscribers.

Basically I've taught so many people with my methods that I'm pretty darn confident that I can help YOU too!

So confident that I'm offering a 30 day money-back gaurentee with Udemy.

Take the course and if you feel it is genuinely not helping then you can easily just stop and get a full refund.

So go ahead and dive into a course that will take you on a wonderful journey of discovery with this amazing and under-rated instrument and wow your friends with your amazing new skills!

Best wishes,

Jonny Cope.