How Music Can Inform Your Breathing
Updated: May 18
Breathing is an essential function of the human body, and humans are responsible for around 17,000 breaths per day to live their lives simply. Breathing properly has never been more critical, with bad habits built up from one generation to another over decades, if not centuries.
However, one section of the population has managed to keep good habits - musicians. As a result, wind instruments have become the surprising saviors of human wellness and health when it comes to the music community. Wind instruments require greatly expanded lung capacities and consistent breathing rhythms, making breath training a vital aspect of mastery.
These habits and training have allowed many wind instrument specialists to take full advantage of what proper deep breathing can bring to the psyche. As a result, in today’s blog, we’ll be unpacking the techniques used by wind instrument specialists and how these techniques can be beneficial to your health.
The Bigger, the Better
When it comes to mastering proper breathing techniques, experts usually agree that the best instruments for breathing mastery are the most giant wind instruments available. A larger instrument, such as a tuba or didgeridoo, requires a much larger lung capacity than smaller instruments to play. As a result, more air is necessary to leave the body at a much faster rate for the device to make a pleasing sound, meaning the lungs have to be trained to deal with the added pressure.
However, size is not the only route, as specific instruments require copious amounts of airflow to make a sound while being smaller. The flute, for example, requires vast amounts of air to be expelled through it to make music. This is because the flute has a small opening and a reed as part of the mechanism, adding greater resistance to airflow and requiring the player to blow much more challenging and with superior technique to operate.
How Does this Help?
A study conducted at the University of Zurich discovered that patients suffering from sleep apnea symptoms reported lower cases of disturbances in the night and experienced far less daytime exhaustion after completing four months’ worth of Didgeridoo lessons.
If that doesn’t tell you enough to start thinking about how breathing can change your life, we’re unsure what else to say to you.
Breathing As One
Another aspect of classical music and its hidden impact on breathing techniques happens at the concert level as well. Conductors are well known for their desire to get the band they are instructing to play as a unified group. In fact, that’s basically the conductor’s entire job.
Conductors help their bands play in unison by using something referred to as the “empathetic breath.” This is where the conductor keeps the orchestra, or band, ready to engage collectively and instantly by maintaining a single rhythm of breath across the entire arrangement.
Ultimately, all of these techniques and breathing styles work by increasing the rate of oxygen entering the body while generating and expelling large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the same time. This is not unlike several deep breathing techniques that achieve similar goals.
For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.
And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.