Are you breathing?

Photo by Bob Osias on Unsplash. 

I have discovered over the years that some students naturally hold their breath as they reach very difficult sections of the music. One situation is when the music needs to be moving at a faster pace than what they can currently perform. I sometimes ask the question are you breathing in one of the two scenarios. The first is when it’s obvious to me, though not usually for them. The second is if I suspect they are and a student has a coat or bulky clothes on such as during winter months when it is not as obvious to me. If the students says “I don’t know”, I ask them to play again and observe. Other times they are aware once the question is asked. If the passage is difficult I try to have them slow down and focus on breathing before trying to move the tempo back up again. If the music is fast I suggest they try to breath at a regular interval such as inhaling for one or two measures and exhaling for the next one or two measures. 

Need a short work at a fast pace to challenge the students to continue breathing through the situation? Maybe consider Agitation, Toccata (The Chase) or Scherzo all of which are sold separately or can be found in Vignettes for Solo Piano. Other solos found in the book to consider would include Augmented Reality and Acceleration of Time.