Breathing at the Piano

Piano Qigong Exercise

Are you sure that you breathe when playing the piano?

It might seem like an odd question – of course we continue to breathe while playing! But to what extent are we aware of our breath, and how it affects our technique, musicality and comfort at the piano?

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András Schiff & Natural Breathing

András Schiff – surely one of the most respected concert pianists of our time – made the following extraordinary observation in a recent interview with Pianist Magazine (No.76, Feb-March 2014):

“For me, it is breathing that is vital. You must breathe naturally, like a singer. Pianists and string players often tend to forget the necessity of breathing and they can become very tense; then they get back pains and wrist pains and so on. Usually it can be sorted out through the breathing.”

Breathing is a subject that I have rarely seen discussed in connection with piano technique, and even less so in the context of pianists’ injuries, their causes, cures and corrections. Schiff is hitting on a point that it would seem is indeed too often overlooked.

In this article I will consider the links between natural breathing and Qigong practice, as well as offering a simple breathing exercise that anyone can try…

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