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How to Breathe while Playing the Violin or Viola

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: May 14, 2014 at 10:20 AM [UTC]

Valyncia asks in a comment on my video '5 exercises to learn vibrato’ (click here to watch)...
Little by little I am practicing vibrato - but I notice if I don't breathe I tense up in my back and shoulder... At least when I notice this I can stop and focus and start again without getting tensed...Thanks for the videos...

Lots of people hold their breath while playing the violin or viola.

This effects your relaxation, your tone production and your expression when playing the violin or viola.

When I was a child I almost choked while playing the violin because I didn’t breathe :P.

Exercise 1: When you play a piece, just watch your breath and nothing but your breath (you can focus on the other things (intonation, rhythm) another time. Make sure your breath is deep and slow. Breath through: make sure you don’t stop or hold your breath. This exercise can automate your breathing while playing. First you must do it consciously to be able to automate it and let it become subconsciously. 

Exercise 2: Breath along with the music and the musical phrasing (sentences and story telling in music). Singers and wind instrument players obviously have to be very strategic about how and where to breath in a piece of music. For string players it’s not so obvious, but also very important. 

An example is to take a deep breath in before you start a piece and on breathing out you play the first note.

Notice how a change in breathing changes your tone in a positive way! Breathing along with the music is not only good for the relaxation of your body and mind, but also for your tone production, intonation and expression.

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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