Breathing and Music

December 11, 2017, 9:51 AM · I was watching some studio Kavakos videos today, and I noticed he had a very frequent breathing, and one that was very much in sync with the music.
I’m pretty sure most accomplished violinists have thought about their breathing at least a little bit, and I find there is quite a lack of material and attention on the subject.
It got me thinking, so I’m turning to you now, to hear your own takes on the subject of breathing while playing.

Replies (4)

December 11, 2017, 10:27 AM · I found my student copy of Britten's Lachrymae for viola, with dozens of markings, including breathing, both in and out: I would tend to play the more complexe passages holdin my breath.
December 11, 2017, 11:17 AM · I don't know. I use to jog a lot. Incorporating a cadence in breathing could mean the difference in the completion or early drop out of intended miles goal. My cadence was four in and three out, in rhythm with steps. Four. As in 4/4 time? Hmm, maybe better than tapping the toe. Not to mention avoiding holding ones breath. Sounds like an experiment brewing...
December 11, 2017, 11:24 AM · As you know, people tend to die when they don't breath...

A prominent violinist I know experienced memory slips and out of body experiences during a solo with orchestra on tour, and this violinist one day read an article about symptoms of oxygen deprivation experienced by military pilots that matches and realized the memory problems were due to not breathing for more than a minute in a really intense passage. Since then with consciously planned breathing the violinist is doing fine now.

Our bow is like a singer's breath; and out-breath is a physical release (and vice versa) and some we learn to use to our musical advantages. Controlled breathing can be an aid to lower your heart rate in stressful situations. I've even heard some people philosophizing that the duple meter coming from in and out breaths (and triple meter coming from the heart beat). Glad you're becoming more conscious about your breathing!

Edited: December 11, 2017, 1:54 PM · Our body is regulated by our mind. Our mind is regulated by our breathing. The slower rate of breathing, the more control we have over our mind.

This truth is easy to understand, but hard to achieve. I'm still working on it. This is what I try to do more consistently to achieve the results I want when play violin:
- breathing as slowly and deeply as I can, with the emphasis on slower exhaling than inhaling.
- exhale slowly especially when begin a slow and delicate note or phrase.
- avoid holding breath for too long.

Toaist Master Lao Tzu knew the best kind of breathing: the slow and calm breathing that looks like not breathing. Regular shallow and audible breathing is a sign of poor health.

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