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The Importance of Breathing

Hello everyone,

Today is the 6th video in my 8 part series about effective practicing techniques. Today I want to talk about how important breathing is while you are playing. Of course, we always breathe while we are playing but it is vitally important that we control when and how we breath.

There are two primary situations in which breathing will create significantly more control in your playing.

1. Controlling the accuracy of your bow when initially striking the string.

2. Keeping the body relaxed during especially stressful times like performances and auditions.

There are two types of ways that we can use breathing to give us more control while initiating contact with the string.

1. Controlling the accuracy of your bow when initially striking the string.

1st method: Take a breath right before attacking the string and release your breath after you’ve made contact with the string. This technique is the most common and helps you place your bow on the string at precisely the exact time you need to. Breathing prepares your body and aligns all of the extremities in accordance with your goals. This technique is most common with faster passages and more aggressive playing. It is usually employed with ensemble playing because it helps every player play together.

2nd method: Breath out slowly before and during a stroke for quiet passages. This is a more advanced method that requires more control. However, it works especially well for delicate passages where multiple players are not necessarily playing together.

2. Keeping the body relaxed during especially stressful times like performances and auditions.

—Utilizing breathing during stressful playing can be one of our best assets to remaining calm and retaining control over your playing.

—The most important part of this technique is never holding your breath.

—Generally, when we are stressed, we will begin to feel tension in our neck and/or feet. This tension works it’s way down or up our body depending on the source fo the tension. Never holding your breath and keeping a normal breathing pattern will help release muscles that so desperately want to tense up. You have to be aware of your body and exercise great restraint to do the opposite of what your body wants to do when it’s in fight or flight mode. It takes practice to get good at defying your bodies natural tendency to tense up, but being aware of your breathing is the easiest and first part in gaining control of your body during stressful situations.