British Lung Foundation

Wind instrument

Hi friends,

I have enoyed my time at church when we installed our new vicar. The main enjoyment came for the visit of Christ Church University choir which swelled our choir nicely. I sing bass and was accompanied with 2 others. We sang a motet by Tallis: if ye love me, keep my commandments. (it took me a month to learn by heart).

That choir really stimulated me to want to sing better.Research says that singing does good for people affected with COPD. Of course, the voice is one wind instrument. But I wondered if one could also learn other wind instruments.

I saw this Finnish research on the flute in particular.

here's a more anecdotal article:

And to convince you of the beauty of the instrument, Look at that video by Vivaldi:

I’m quite intrigued in my old age. Any one of you plays the flute or sings? My pulmonary nurse says that it’s a good idea to have a go

Perhaps some of you would consider learning the flute, for instance. I’m certainly will. Any opinion and ideas.

33 Replies

as i said before mic, i admire you a lot,,, that must have taken some learning by memory, they are beautiful words " if you love me, keep my commandments" it sounds like you have enjoyed it all.

i should imagine it would be great to be able to play the flute, and yes ive heard from physiotherapists at my end, that it is actual real physiotherapy that you are doing playing any wind instrument. and as you say, singing is also a wind instrument, but i'm afraid i was never blessed with a singing voice.

they used to laugh at me when i said i try play a tune on my harmonica [mouth organ :) ] i used to be able to play it reasonably well, but still have a go each day,, even if i can just play part of a tune ,, i have one here right now,, :) but gave it a rest for a few days, till my breathing improves. :)

i hope you find great interest in learning to play the flute, and hope you succeed , your a marvelous man mic,, a great tryer,,, a gift to be admired,, all the very best my friend jimmy

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I try to convince people of taking exercise, bcuse It has worked fantastically for me. Of course, I started really slow. I couldn't walk 2 minutes on the treadmill. I persisted, because I want to get over this illness. It mustn't become our master and depress us. Never! We must all stick together and try to beat this and improve our health. Stand tall jimmy, you can do it too. It might take time and a few set backs, but you can do it. if a weakling like may who have bronchiectasis and multiple infections, you can do it too! Thanks for your praises, much appreciated.


hi again mic,

yes exercise is definitely a great thing, no doubt about that. i remember on this forum when you could hardly walk but a couple of minutes on the treadmill, it really is great to hear you've came on leaps and bounds [if you pardon my expression :) ] i admire your determination as really thats what its all about, its so true what you say, "it mustn't become our master" as it would most definitely depress us, its a battle we must "know" and" believe" we'll win, we will have set backs, we both know that, but the old saying comes to mind "pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again" i've been much the same as you mic, with multiple infections, collapsed lung, pneumonia etc,,i was doing fine , now bothered with this gunk,, again i've been worse, so its just one of the set backs that happens,, yes thats a great saying "stand tall" we must do that,, i,ll get over this wee bad patch, you give me great confidence mic, thats one of the great things about the forum, theres always someone to help someone ,, many many thanks mic,, take care now,,, jimmy


By saying "this wee thing" does that make you a Scot or Northern Irish (descendant from the Scots)? You might like james Galway on his flute wherever you are from!

Hope this You Tube works:

By theh way, are you using Chrome, because I cannot get any sound on Chrome. I found a lovely little browser called Slimjet which works a bit like Chrome and is more sympathetic. At least You Tube works on that!

It's free too!


hi mic, i am scottish, living just outside edinburgh, in the "relative" countryside, which is slowly being built on !!

i have now listened to george galway for the first time, i thought he was marvelous,

i use chrome and manage to get youtube

i hope you don't mind me putting a post on for you, and about you, as i find you such an inspiration, and feel you deserve it,,,

you could show some of the young ones up :D with no offence to the young ones off course :D

kindest regards jimmy :)


:-) of course, you can show things to encourage everyone!

I don't know chrome doesn't want me to listen to YouTube. I tried to find out why. But I had started with Slimjet and found it quite pleasant, an able to listen to music.


its strange how the links from you tube don't work ? i couldn't get yours, then tried to put links on myself, they didn't work either,, maybe its me mic,,i get by, but i'm not exactly computer literate :)

thats why i named the tunes on your post,, their just as easy to find on youtube really

,,i must say i listened to quite a few of james galway,s flute "magic" :) . i never imagined a flute would sound so nice,, beautifull :),,

but as you say "things to encourage everyone" we all need that, and are indeed thankful for that

...jimmy :)


As for You Tube not working, it's not you, it's Chrome (They did say there is a problem, but have left it at that!). Change your browser (I've got Slimjet which is good). The change will allow you to listen to You Tube.


wil try "Slimjet" mic, when i'm a little less tired,, but i do get a crackle at times with google youtube, i thought it was me or my speakers,, yet it cant be the speakers as it sounds ok on "my music " i have stored ,, thanks mic.


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Good for you :-)


thought you might enjoy mic ,,, jimmy


Go for it Jimmy and good luck


Thanks Nanaeal, I'm eager to receive this Yamah 211 that I bought from

They were very helpful when I put the question to them. Of course, they are there to provide business, but their service seemed really genuine.


Hi Helingmick I think you need to educate me what's a Yamaha 211. It doesn't sound like a flute. anyway have fun. You are an inspiration. I'm thinking hard about what hobby will help my breathing.By the way one PR two peopl . Se to be upset by " being followed on the new system but I would love to know how you get on with the flute so can I follow your blog.


Nannyeal, hahahaha! I know that Yamaha builds motorbikes! But it also builds musical instruments like pianos, keyboards and ... flutes. The Yamaha 211 is a rather good flute I'm told, so I have invested in this. I'm waiting eagerly for it to arrive.

In the meantime, I am watching James Galway on You Tube where he explains how to obtain a sound from the flute:

As you known he has been called the golden flute, so It's interesting to listen.


I'm not that bad Helingmick I knew about the key boards but didn't know they made flutes sounds wonderful. Do hope you will let us know how you get on. I love James Galway. Dave (huby) introduced me to him many years ago. Wonderful


Of course I'll let you know Nanaeal. I'm quite eager to receive it. It might be tricky to get a sound out of it. I watched james Galway purse his lips and show how he does it. Then He played! AaaaaaaaH! Tell you later.


Great. I know listen to James is magnificent


Music lifts the mood, even sad music. I read this article about it. it described all the hormones that are affected by music, and basically make us happy!

Sometimes I cry over beautiful music! Strangely this burst of emotions feels good!


I was so moved by this beautiful and true encouragement. Thank you so much.


your very welcome mic,, it gave me strength and encouragement especially when i needed it,,,,jimmy


Yes I go to a choir, part of Music for Rveryone in Nottingham. There are over a hundred of us and we make a pretty good sound, singing all sorts of music. Yes I do think it helps my lungs ( I have bronchiectasis and it help bring up the muck and expand my diaphragm) but more importantly it's fun. Our conductor is coming to speak to our BE group next year.


bwp, thank yo for consolidating my idea. I feel I'm on a new road. I started singing at church when a ldy died and her husband was so distraught that he left it for a while. A lady from the choir came to our pew saying, "Come on , we need some more men" I was the only one, but I met, a small, but really happy crowd. so worth it! Tg=hanks.


Hi Mic, there are lots of choirs - The Sidney de Haan Research centre for Arts and Health pioneered research into the benefits of singing for people with copd. They set up choirs with BE groups in Kent including the Canterbury and Coastal BE group.

That came to an end but people wanted to carry on and I've just found this on the BLF site so you could call to see if its still going. Ben is a really nice guy.

Singing for Health - Whitstable

Where: All Saints Hall, Church Street, Whitstable, CT5 1PG

When: Tuesday 2.00pm - 3.00pm

Contact: Ben White, 01227 282136,

The Sid de Haan centre is based in Folkestone and Canterbury Christchurch. Grenville Hancox is a director there and runs a choral choir at Christchurch so I imagine he would have been with the choir who visited your church - very beautiful man with a shock of silver hair.

I want to put on some more links but keep losing what I've written so will post this then edit it as i get the links sorted.

Ok here's the one for Sidney de Haan Centre: (just found I've got a credit on page 2 for help in setting up the project, sorry couldn't resist, such a baby ;) )

I'll leave it at that but there's loads you can google to find groups. Good luck and with the flute - i've always fancied the sax myself, never too late :)

You take care Mic :)


O2Trees, i did belong to one of thsoe choir which met at All Saints Hall. They still do, but the leader went to do a PhD in music! The only leader now is a guitarist who works at Brokedale farm (John).I elft when the leader left, I am concentrating now on my church choir and want to do something to swell their number and improve in standard. I've signed up with the RSCM, the Royal society of Chuch music where they have a programme called Voice for Life.

I cannot relaly go to their workshops in London, but I can follow their programme in their book. Thanks enormously for the info. I did read De haan's research. I am a member of Rethink where we had a physiotherapist who introduced it for mental illness ( my wife's condition) . So I put the question if there was also a group for COPD. I was directed to All Saints (Church Lane in Whitstable - meets every Tuesday at 2 pm till 3 pm.)Thank you . Take care.


I was diagnosed with moderate COPD two years ago and have since started playing the sax again, now with two amateur orchestras. I've also stopped smoking about 18 months ago and now take thyroxine. My last lung function test a year ago showed no change in spite of having far more energy. I had the pneumo jab plus flu jabs and have, touch wood, had no chest infections for about 2 years. Prior to that it was about 2 per year.

The orchestra rehearsals also seem to energise me.I think that the sense of being part of something bigger plus the social side plays a part. My breath control isn't as good as it was but my breathing feels better afterwards.Its not the same as singing, more like blowing up a balloon. I also enjoy singing but need to be drowned out and find it harder in terms of breathlessness.

It would be interesting to know if playing an instrument helps COPD and which type ie resistance no resistance. I'm having a lung function test on Friday so will post.


Lilliput, This is brilliant. Just hearing you of being energised really comforts me, because I read several people on the net (expert, ill and non expert who just play) they all seem to recommend playing an instrument. True that belonging to a group of people with akin thoughts and joy, lifts the spirit

I know from personal experience that the clarinet is a reed instrument and probably wants a lot of pressure. I have no experience of the sax, apart from its sound. It seems a powerful instrument, such luscious sound!

I'm waiting for a flute.( I just bought this as a Christmas present to myself!) Seeing various videos on You Tube, they all say that it requires a lot of breath. almost as much as for a tuba. I watched James Galway's mini master class, very enlightening.

It's all in the placement of the mouth. it must be like this for the sax too. Really brilliant that you stopped smoking, that is a phenomenal step. You might have had to get rid of the accumulated smoke deposits, but your health should improve. Also I did read that in the research lab, the test on people who use an instrument don't show a drastic change, but all researches show that people feel better, breathe better. There's a girl who had asthma; instead of using her inhaler, she gets on to her flute! This calms her down and helps her breathe. Yes, there's a great future in playing an instrument. (i'll post here as soon as I receive the instrument too, I'm quite keen and the waiting makes this more acute too!)

Hope your test proves you right too. Best wishes,



From the very first time I saw Acker bilk playing 'Stranger On The Shore' on 'Top Of The Pops, when I was a child, I always wanted a clarinet. I never got one.

To me, it's the most beautiful wind instrament, with it's deep, rich tones.

I did price one up after your last mention of flute playing Mic, but, I'm not one to treat myself when there is a never ending list of things the house needs.

I also remebered that even as a child, I couldn't blow a trumpet nor blow up baloons in my 20's, so I've always had weakish lungs. I have no idea how much puff it takes to blow a clarinet so I put myself off getting one.

My father suffered from Severe asthma and later copd, he played a banjo and guitar all his life, self taught. It gave him great comfort.

I have decided I must get a treadmill next year as it is essential and I might add a clarinet to that, once I find out if it is hard to blow. Lol.

I watched an America program about people with Emphysema and they all met weekly to excercise their lungs by blowing a mouth organ. Unfortunately, none of them could play one, they just blew in and out. I thought, what a blooming racket haha. It would have driven me mad. x


casper99, of course, you have to set your priorities. Of coursse, you have to make your own research on what is good for you. It would be a waste of money to buy something you can't use.

I have made this decision after I have improved to the point that now, I feel confident to start this.

I chose the flute, because I know the clarinet is a reed instrument. This imposes, in my opinion, more pressure to produce a sound. So yes, I chose the flute for "its ease of play". not knowing the reality yet, but being pretty realistic. Hope you make the right choice. after having scored the research of pros and cons.. I have to leave you and go to the gym! Regards, Mic


Just back from lung function test. Nurse said my result was normal which has me pleased and a bit confused as I thought COPD was irreversible. She said that if I needed to discuss results to see doc. She did say that most reading were the same and some have improved, peak flow in particular. I was given a lung age rather than FEV. For 2 years running FEV was about 74%; my lung age now is 62, I'm 54. I smoked for 30 years so wouldnot expect a perfect result. Good news generally!

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Lilliput, I am so pleased for you. keep off the ciggies. If you find it hard sometimes talk to some who have given up on smoking. Someitmes the crave comes back. Think of.. (queen and country? perhaps) most of all think of how good you have improved. Have you been referred to pulmonary rehabilitation yet?

Have you attemted to do some exercises?

Here are some from you tube which are specific for your lungs:

Put yourself in vibrant mood! All the best, Mic


Thanks for your lovely reply helingmic. I would never go back to smoking! You are right about the exercise; I was doing fairly well partly to lose weight but now work far more hours and its gone by the by. Must try to get back to my walking group on day off. I've not been referred to pulmonary rehab, just get the yearly checks at the doctors. Tbh I don't think I need it as I can now exercise,I just lack the discipline at times. I'll check out the utube video though.

Hope you are well.


lilliput (an evocative name!) Well! christmqs is on us! It's a time to take stock, reflect on the events that took place. Winter is the season when Spring is in gestation, to quote a friend of mine. You can prepare yourself so when teh time comes to act, you'll repeat to yourself the scout motto, Ever ready! Have a lovely Christmas preparation and ... gestation!


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