In the last article about breathing, you got couple of suggestions how to train your breathing. How to use breath for release and within instrumental playing? First, try following exercise for release. It is not difficult, but it depends very much on your focus.

Release of your back.

Lie down on your belly comfortable way, put your head on one of your ears, if you feel to, bend your knee or even your hand, just get to the most comfortable and relaxed state.  Close your eyes and start breathing.  Then start breathing to particular parts around your spine. Start at the coccyx part and continue upright. Concentrate on the part around coccyx and start sending your breath to this area. If you manage, you will feel how the part is getting more space inside and feels released more. Breathe to particular part for some time and then move your focus further. Continue with lumbar area, then thoracic and finally neck area. Within thoracic, especially violinists may feel bigger tension on the left site next to scapula. Give an extra time to this area to release. 

If this exercise does not work for you, ask somebody for asistence. Your assistant will put his/her palms to particular places so that you feel better where to breathe. You conduct the person, where to put the palms and when to move forward. 

Try to focus on this exercise not just it will provide you very smooth but functional breathing, but also, after some time you will be able to coordinate your breathing within playing the instrument. 

I suggest you include this training at the very end of your practice time. 

…during playing:

Once you feel some tension within some back area during playing, stop at the possition(do not put your hands away, keep the position) and try to breathe to this area to reach release. Then continue playing.

Once you are able to coordinate your breathing well, you will be able to breathe to particular areas even within playing the instrument. You will appreciate this ability especially during performances a powerful tool for coping with stage fright 🙂

This ability is difficult, but you can start training it more simple way. First, you have to train basic breath exercises to connect with your breathing. Then cultivate ability to breathe within your playing following way:

Choose simple place you know well and you will be able to keep contact with your breathing and the music without mistakes. First, try to breathe to your stomach during playing. If you manage and make no mistakes, you can try to choose another body area – some on your back which usually gets in tension and try to breathe there during playing the same spot. 

Try to play more difficult spots(these will be your target to integrate breath for future…). Do not stop during playing, just slow down if you feel you need to for keeping concentration both on breath and the music and try to take a breath to your stomach, then keep the tempo again. The point is not to stop the flow of music and slowly learn to integrate the breath as indivisible part of your playing in final shape. 

Integrate breath to compositions you play.

It lasts some time to reach ability to work consciously with creating during playing, still it help us very much to release the tension and stress. So how to integrate the breath to your playing easier way?

Take your score and look at the music. Find places with breaks where you can take your breath consciously. Choose also those before and after hard spot! Create your own mark for breathing – (including one inhale and one exhale to your diaphragm). Find such places, where you manage to breath without loosing yourself in the music. Write your breathing mark to your score and work with that as it was a note to be played. Every time you play the spot, breathe according to your mark. 

Effect of this training is that even if you don’t breathe well during playing, you will have spots to get back to breath, release and stress elimination. It also helps to get back to concentration and therefore, it is very helpful tool to cope with stage fright too. 

BREATH. Basic integration to instrumental playing.

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