Orlaith O’Driscoll, a 4th year student at Clonakilty Community College, Co Cork, who plays the cornet, wanted to prove a long-held theory about brass players.
The 16-year-old checked the lung capacity of 50 brass players and 50 non-brass players to see if there was a noticeable difference and found there was.
“I found out that, in fact, there was a very significant difference in the lung capacity between brass players and non-brass players,” she said.
Orlaith went a step further, she took 10 beginner brass players and measured their lung capacity over eight weeks to see whether there was a noticeable difference in their lung capacity and found there was.
“I wanted to prove a theory that brass players have a larger lung capacity than non-brass players and they have. It is statistically larger.”
Brass instrument players rely heavily on lung capacity to perform at their best but there is very little statistical evidence on how playing affects lung capacity.
Orlaith said she used to play the cornet before she got braces but now has to make do with playing the trombone. “The trombone is a big old honker but I am going back to the cornet as soon as the braces come out in about five months.”
Orlaith comes from a musical family. Her dad is a trumpet player, her younger sister plays the violin, and her older sister is a pianist. Her mother plays the accordion and all her uncles play brass instruments.
But Orlaith forgot to measure her own lung capacity. “I was so focussed on the investigation I just completely forgot about myself.”