My teacher points out that my most regular mistake is in my breathing.
From Yoga and running, I have a very controlled breathing and I can adjust it instinctively to a bunch of accurate beats per second, which I use to mark the speed of the piece, in paralel or substitution of the metronome.
However, my teacher insists on channelling the dynamics by breathing, such as inhaling deep and holding the air in ff, breath shallowly in pp, inhale-exhale at the rythm of stacattos, etc. Not different from some martial arts. I have now in my sheet music several annotations marking where and how to breath.
I see merits in both approaches; mine and his, but I don't know how to combine them. On the other hand, I have seen very little about emphasis in breathing in teaching technique. Do you have any view on it?
I would say this is probably unhealthy. The average RPM for a normal, average human is around 12. The fitter you are the lower that number usually is because your VO2 Max is probably higher and your body requires less cycling of oxygen due to being more efficient at using what it has.
Wow al this sounds really complicated and just crazy.
Hi Michael. It is not exactly as you say. One can control the breathing rythm while taking the same ammount of air per minute. For example in running, you may use in-in-out-out, 3 ins-2 outs, 1 in, 2 outs, etc. Doing so, you can adjuts and keep the steps per minute. Obviolusly, you adjust how much air you take during each "in" depending how many times you are doing it, and that's the real control. In yoga I find more important to keep air in by unnaturally long exhalations and to do that, like swimming, you learn how to fill the lungs in an instant inhalation followed by very long and steady exhalations.
I found my old copy of Britten's Lachrymae from my student days: I had put breath-out and breath-in signs after tricky passages where I had tended to hold my breath..
Right, I was simplifying to make my point.. I don't run marathons, but I have run 10k's, weight lift, and did martial arts my entire childhood..
Ideally, we don't think about breathing at all. Let the automatic part of your brain take care of it. Singers and wind players can plan and rehearse breathing in advance, then not think about it so much during performance, but strings? The exception would be; if your teacher or coach notices that you are holding your breath, then deliberately breathe in on long up-bows, out on down-bows. Also-breath from the bottom of your torso-not the top--"Sing Fat". Vocal lessons will probably be more useful than Yoga- I've done both.
I'm wondering if your teacher is trying to get you to concentrate on phrasing, rather than on providing oxygen.
I can see some of the logic in his advice, actually. Breathing is just another tool we can use to invoke certain effects, especially if the student isn't able to do what we exactly want when simply given literal cues.
While my phrasing is inspired by a singer's, I just let my breathing free in my playing - apart from the apne I mentioned above.
Well, to follow up this topic and after one more class, he doesn't insist like, for example, the necessary bowing in one part. It is more a recommendation to improve my tone. He has noticed that I don't mark well the dynamics and he advices to follow them not only with the bow but by the "whole body and attitude", and to do that, channel the mood by the breathing. Paraphrasing... " A fortissimo is defiant. Back straight, chest out, ready to fight! Breath in deep and attack". And so, he marks ""deep breath!!!" in the sheet. And a pp is a whisper... you lower yourself and breath like a whisper.
The most common problem with violinists' breathing is holding one's breath too much. I've seen too many master classes where the teacher is saying "breathe! breathe!" to the student who is slowly turning red trying to play a certain passage without breathing.
Exactly as Mary Ellen said. Holding breath is bad. We breathe in naturally when we need air so consciously breathing out is more important, not only it's necessary but also breathe out has calming effect. This is why it's especially helpful to breathe out when we concentrate under pressure, play before a piece/movement, etc.
I think playing violin is difficult enough without adding the complication of synchronized breathing.