Mouth types

Getting the right recorder for your breathing type makes playing much easier and the results more convincing!
Musicians, teachers, students….. they are all on a quest for the absolute truth.
The great thing here is that there isn't one single truth that trumps all others and the playing experience is determined by nature, rather than nurture.
There is a considerable difference between people who naturally inhale in an active manner (and exhale passively) and people who naturally exhale actively (and inhale passively)..

  • We call people who inhale actively inhalers
  • We call people who exhale actively exhalers

tend to blow a lot of air freely through the recorder, without applying much force.

tend to blow air into the recorder more actively and with more force.

The tone is the same for both types, as is the amount of air flowing through the windway. The only difference is the way the sound is produced. This is why different people require different mouthpieces!


The inhalers have an active intake of breath and a passive exhalation and are therefore the wind players that prefer a larger opening to blow through. This makes the passive exhaling of air relaxed and the tone beautifully free and rich in resonance.
They play with taut lips.
The right mouthpiece has a thin beak with a larger windway opening.
The naturally 'slow' airstream can flow into the recorder freely and the thinner beak means the lips remain in firm control.


The exhalers have an active exhalation and a passive intake of breath and benefit from a smaller opening to blow through. The air that they naturally blow into the recorder with a lot of power is therefore restricted and the tone remains clear and nicely centred.
They play with relaxed lips.
The right mouthpiece is somewhat thicker and rounder and has a small windway opening.
The naturally 'fast' airstream is directed and the lips can close around the thicker beak in a relaxed fashion.

left is Inhaler and right the Exhaler model

Breathing Types, The Theory

1 The INHALERS use their chest muscles actively to breathe in, expanding their chest a little and allowing it to rise slightly. They pause briefly then release the air passively. The active inhalation follows directly after the air has flowed out of the lungs. The muscles of the stomach and sides stay as relaxed as possible during inhalation leaving more room for the lungs to expand. Inhalation lasts 3 to 4 times as long as the release of the air from the lungs.

2 The EXHALERS breathe out actively by pulling in their sides and, after a short pause, they allow the drawing in of breath to follow automatically by relaxing their flank muscles. They use very few muscles to inhale. After inhalation the active exhalation follows immediately. The chest (pectoral) and stomach (abdominal) muscles are hardly used during this. The stomach muscles only hold the abdominal organs still. The active use of the flank muscles to exhale lasts 3 to 4 times as long as the passive admission of air into the lungs.


For us as a recorder makers it is important to be able to make the right recorder for the inhalers and the exhalers. You know the feeling, when you try a new recorder and something is not at all in line with your way of playing (regardless of the quality of the instrument).
This has a lot to do with the size of the opening at the top of the windway in the mouthpiece.
Also, exhalers like to have the fingering ergonomically placed with holes 3 and 6 and/or 7 bored off centre so that they can keep their hands tilted.)
Inhalers prefer to have the fingering in a straight line. This has to do with body positioning which in turn affects hand and arm positioning.

We hold to the principle that it sounds the most interesting and the most natural when a player uses the windway best fitted to them so that they can conform completely to their own “Type”. A person’s own physical playing technique combined with the right recorder can contribute to this because the player will be more relaxed and therefore able to get closer to his own soul and power of expression.
Try, however, to assess your own playing technique very critically. Sometimes many years of training have been given by a teacher who has tried to teach you the opposite technique by conveying their own playing technique to you. Most breathing schools are aimed at exhalers.

...Please don't worry about ‘incorrect’ techniques you may have been taught. As soon as musicians pick up the right instrument for their type, those old habits will soon be a thing of the past. The body returns to its former self and will soon feel more at ease. The key principle here is of course that the right instrument is made available to the right person!

The following characteristics can be seen by the different types of breathing
Inhalers Exhalers
Like to move a lot whilst playing but the instument remains static (they move around the recorder) Play statically but move the instrument (they “play” with the recorder)
Fingers straight on the recorder, preferably with the tips over the openings Prefer fingers slanted on the recorder, wrists turned inwards
Relaxed fingering with active opening and passive closing of the holes Hammer more with their fingertips and close the openings actively
Play with a lot of lip tension Play with loose lips
The air moves more slowly Air moves faster
Cheeks are puffed Cheeks more tensed/taut
Playing seated; prefer (actually!) to rest lazily against the back of the chair so that they have more breathing support in their sides. Playing seated; prefer to be upright without a backrest so that they can use their flank muscles properly
Playing while standing; often the right leg forward and leaning on their heels Playing while standing; often the left leg forward and leaning on the fore foot


drawing of the moon

INHALERS are born when the percentage of moon energy is higher than the sun energy. We call this the LUNAR breathing type (Active Inhalation).

INHALER Lunar genteel companion 1683

INHALER Lunar Weigel musicum theatrum 1722

drawing of the sun

EXHALERS are born when the percentage of sun energy is higher than the moon energy. We call this the SOLAR breathing type (Active Exhalation).

EXHALER Solar complete instructions for the common flute 1780

EXHALER Solar complete tutor for the flute 1750 

For the determination of ones own breathing type the influence of the sun and the moon has to be evaluated.
You can refer to the website to determine your own breathing type. Fill in your birthdate at zur Berechnung and find out your breathing type.

For all clarity, here is a part of their website:

“This doctrine starts with the observation that there are two (opposite) respiration types. We call these types inhaler (Einatmer) and exhaler (Ausatmer). Each person can be assigned to exactly one type and your type cannot change during yours lifetime.
The inhaler stresses her inhalation. Inhalation is supported by an upside-down position. When sitting the inhaler stretches her legs and has an easily lifted head, she needs a seat-back. At desk her elbow joints are stretched and the wrists are bent as possible. The inhaler does not like to walk on high heels. The head is raised, when running the torso is bent forward. The inhaler runs with stretched kneeling and arm joints, her arms swing clearly; she prefers left curves. The inhaler necessarily needs a warming-up before any sport activity and holds her extremities at the body. She breathes in the thorax and feels cold very easily. The favorable climate are humid zones.

Lunar (inhaler) sitting
Solar (exhaler) sitting

We very often observe type-adverse behavior. If an inhaler for example walks highheeld steadily she will (over a short or long period) get serious health complaints. Unfortunately these complaints are not always associated with the wrong respiration behavior (see in addition the case studies). Therefore determing its own respiration type and learning the type-correct behavior is of great importance for your health.
The exhaler stresses her exhalation. Exhalation is supported by a prone position. When sitting she does not need a seat-back and prefers bent legs. The exhaler tries to bring her feet under the seat and writes with stretched wrist. The exhaler can stand well on high heels. The head is easily lowered (despite an upright torso). Her arms swing calmly, the arm joints are never stretched; she prefers right curves. She keeps her arms somewhat distant from the body and prefers retaining work; she breathes into the abdominal cavity. The favorable climate is dry, only an exhaler tolerates desert climate.”