Music Educators' Energiser
"I just forgot to breathe" explained Australian swimmer Leisel Jones of her Olympic silver medal breaststroke 200 metres, won by American Rebecca Soni by more than a body length - and so she relinquished her world record.
"It happens all the time whether it's a good swim or a bad swim," she conceded.
It happens all the time to public speakers and musicians. I've seen it often in my examining and working with performers in workshops. In fact, in Confident Music Performance I quoted such an instance:
Stress can leave you breathless
I examined a clarinet-playing diploma student who simply forgot to breathe. As he normally had good breath control, he was surprised at his uncharacteristic behaviour under stress. We both laughed and this relieved the pressure.
When threatened, spinal muscles tense the back and the diaphragm and intercostals muscles tighten. These reactions may specifically affect our normal breathing pattern, so that even trained singers and wind musicians may unconsciously hyperventilate or else hold their breath, or panic because air supply seems inadequate. (page 15.)
Jones gives more clues as to her pre-event preparation - or lack of it:
"I was just so unfocused on what I was doing. I was rushed, I was late for marshalling, I really just got up and raced. I probably over-thought things a little bit too much. Looked too much in-depth into my swims."
Exam Overdrive? Why do so many students (perhaps egged on by their parents or teachers) create undue stress for themselves by skipping grades? Most are naïve about the greater expectations for that higher grade. Caution them that a more do-able level can achieve excellent results with less pressure. Sufficient to our lives is the stress thereof.
Breathe, breathe, breathe! I've been teaching about lungs and intercostals muscles and diaphragms for decades but when I'm under pressure, I know that the adrenalin rush can hamper my own breathing. Without breath, what are we? The word ‘inspiration' relates to - breath. When I remind players (and myself) to breathe, incredibly, music - and life - flow smoothly.
|This article was published on Wednesday 27 August, 2008.|
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