Piano Warm-ups and the Art of Breathing (Video)

An adult student and I worked on relaxation techniques that applied to her warm-ups. We practiced preparation for starting notes of broken chords and scales.

I recommended a slow and deep ingestion of air before the release of a stream, that has a perfect moment to create an opening sound or tone. Music and the synchronized breath are at ONE.

Most students will fall hard on an opening note, sending it down stream, without the necessary spring forward energy to perpetuate the flow of a phrase. A poke, jab, or premature gesture, can cause entrapment of a note that has only given birth to itself without relation to others.

Pianists must be singers, with a generous flow of circulating breath to feed phrases. We are otherwise, separated from strings inside the piano, unable to directly pluck them or draw a bow over their surface. Our challenge is to bridge a mechanical distance (hammers activated by our fingers) and create beauty from a place deep within ourselves.

The breath is the well-spring of our music. Imagination feeds the soul.

To clarify the nuances of breathing, tone production, and phrasing, I filmed the opening segment of my pupil's lesson.

The student practiced a Cb minor broken chord with dynamic contrasts, and separately, the B minor scale, three forms, in contrary motion.


A sample of breathing techniques were applied to the Chopin Waltz in A minor, No. 19, Op. Posthumous: