Breathing technique for violinists
My new teacher has been focusing a lot on conscious breathing during performance, and I really like this idea. Actually, I had a fairly bleh performance very recently and I'm certain it was because I didn't consider my breathing beforehand, and panicked a little trying to figure it out on the spot.
Wind players have set spots to take a breath in all of their music. It's mostly down to practicality (eg not going blue in the face because you can never stop to take a breath), but I think having previously decided and unchanging spots to breathe takes another stress factor out of performance. I've been trying to think about how to apply their logic to the violin, but I can't decide where the best places to breathe would be. At the end of each phrase would kill me, and breathing after / during every long-ish note could be too distracting.
How do you place your breaths? Do any of you even think about it?
Yeah but it does need to become organic after a while. You got enough to think about as it is. The main thing is to avoid holding your breath a lot. Playing chamber music will help because I find breathing, gestures, and motion in general is at a more conscious level than solo playing. For me anyway.
Miranda Wilson sets up a part of a warmup routine around breathing.
Co-ordinate breathing with bowing...…….
I agree entirely with Paul. I usually use breathing as a form of communication, both in chamber music and in orchestra. So it becomes natural to just incorporate it that way.
Breathing should not be an issue, unlike our colleagues, the singers and wind instruments. Breathing is semi-automatic, otherwise we would all die in our sleep. If you, or your student, are holding your breath while playing, you can break that habit with long-tone scales, inhale on the up-bow, exhale on the down-bow.
I found an old copy of Britten's Lachrymae for viola and piano, where I had marked out- and in-breaths, as I tended to hold my breath for trick passages and feel dizzy.
I think working on breathing is a process by which we learn not to hold our breath unnecessarily in performance. The work is done in the practice room and is often independent of a piece, although I have been known to write in some "exhale" cues during rests in my music. Over time we can become more aware of our breath and learn to manipulate it, or rather follow it naturally. Some exercises that can make one us more aware of our breath I sometimes practice or assign students as a starting point.
Here is a little anecdote just to demonstrate that breathing is an important issue.
Sometimes on a musical score you'll see a mark that looks like a comma - it's sometimes known as a