Breathing for pianists
Players of wind instruments have a bit of an advantage on the breathing front; their playing is dependent upon it. They also have a disadvantage; their playing is dependent upon it!
In the orchestral workshop sessions I run, the wind players and I will sometimes pause to discuss where breathing will happen in order to maintain musicality and preserve life! More often than not I find myself adding, ‘String players, you breathe there too!’
Whilst pianists and string players can play without breathing in specific places, musical playing is intrinsically linked to breathing. Musical phrases, like poetry, are communicated within a framework of breaths.
Further to the my previous blog post about practising, another great technique to include with piano practice is singing. I have a five year old student who is learning ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’. How do we start? By singing ‘Old McDonald had a farm!’ By singing the melodies of any music we are learning we internalise melodies, and phrasing becomes a natural process.
Singing is a basic and natural activity. No music should be divorced from singing. Practice piano by singing the melodies, clapping melodies, moving to the beat. Nothing half hearted - really sing out those phrases.
And then start learning the piece.
Oh, join a choir too!