Just Breathe

Music Together and BreathingWelcome to 2015! With each New Year come thoughts of resolutions; more of this and less of that, a bigger this and a smaller that, working towards goals and letting go of what no longer serves us. I enjoy making resolutions, and even when I am unable to reach goals that I set, I appreciate them. Having ideas to support a healthier and happier existence is a great motivator! It can, however, be daunting to feel like there is so much to do (or not do, as it may be) to reach a place of health and happiness. 

A few years ago, my mom began a New Year’s tradition of setting a mantra instead of making resolutions. A mantra is defined as a “word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation,” with another commonly accepted definition, “a statement or slogan repeated frequently”. In fact, the first mantra that my mom adopted was the Nike catchphrase, “Just Do It.” She found herself in a place where she was holding back and wanted to be more courageous. This mantra was successful in helping her move forward while remaining mindful of what she was capable of. It was a personal and powerful motivator.

What does any of this have to do with Music Together and what we do at Heartsong? Well, I have a proposition for you. What if we all adopted a mantra? A personal, powerful motivation tool that will assist in making each class a mindful and possibly more enjoyable experience? It’s an easy one, “Just Breathe.”

Just breathe. In the spaces between songs, in the middle of a fast-paced free dance, at the beginning of class before we sing the “Hello Song”, as you rush down the hall to help your potty training child get to the bathroom, when the teacher challenges you to participate in a way you aren’t totally comfortable with…”Just Breathe.” 

Breathing mindfully is a wonderful way to not only focus on a task, but is also very important to having a comfortable and “proper” singing technique. Breath support creates a steady and controlled release of air that makes it easier to sing with a smooth and consistent sound. In fact, proper breath support, especially in the lower abdomen (the diaphragm and muscles around it), keeps harmful pressure away from your vocal chords and throat.

For the purpose of singing, it is important to note that there are many schools of thought on what the “right way” is, but all agree that breathing deeply and with purpose, is a must have to support your voice. When you inhale, try to expand your belly and lower abdomen versus just expanding your chest. One way to check that this is happening is to place your hand on your belly and breathe in. If your hand rises and falls with your breath, then you are off to a good start! If you would like to know more about the process of breath support for singing, there are a myriad of articles and books available. Click here to read an article that I highly recommend on “Singing and Mindfulness” from Princeton University. Or, you can always ask your teacher after class!

I hope you will join me in adopting a mantra to “Just Breathe” during classes this year. May we all be granted one breath after another towards health and happiness in 2015!

Sally Nava
Music Together Teacher 
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The Joy of Family Music

Heartsong Music teaches Music Together®, the internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through grade two and the adults who love them.

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