Featured Cello Lesson: Blowing Bubbles!

Breathing: "But I've been doing this since birth!"

Breathing is one of the most valuable skills I've acquired as a cellist/vocalist. It relaxes nerves, releases energy into the cello, provides smooth calm muscles, and gets much needed oxygen to the brain. (and I'm sure much more too!)

This weekend, I took a trip to the nearest dollar store and picked up some bubbles. Best idea I've had in a long time! Not only is this just a really fun thing to do. But I found this to be a great way to "get outside your head stuff" during a lesson. We were literally outside. [Bonus: The weather must've been the most gorgeous introduction to October I've ever witnessed in the NW!]

I had so much fun, you might find me at a park, just blowing bubbles sometime this weekend...

The Depth and Length of Your Breathing

Above, you can see how the breath of my student, Rohan, was changing the bubbles. We experimented with all different types of breath combinations.

  • Slow and Shallow
  • Big and Fast Release
  • Long, Deep, Sustained
  • Short, Fast and Abruptly Cut
  • etc...

There might be times in your repertoire where those are necessary. It's important to be able to maintain flexibility so that you're not limiting your musical options just by a "I've never done that before" limitation. If you experiment with the number, depth, and length of your breaths then you can truly have the freedom to choose whichever you think fits the song the best.

Breathing Between Phrases

Another activity Rohan and I did, was this: hold a prepared cello posture ready to start the song, take a deep breath, blow one set of bubbles, play the first musical phrase, FREEZE, blow another set of bubbles, play the second musical phrase, repeat this process until song is over.

This really helps to musically punctuate each phrase, as well as promotes healthy amounts of breath between the phrases. Both are great to have.

The Timing of Your Breath

In Mindy's lesson yesterday, we focused on the timing of when to start the song. She and I have talked about the importance of breathing already so I thought I'd refine the concept. 

It's best to start the song not when your body is tense and completely full of air. You want to push the your body to relax and then start the song. That way, you still have air left to give the song, but you're not forcing it out of you nor starting the song with a tight chest. (Great advice Steve Balderston, Thanks!)

I use that trick all the time when I'm on the stage - especially when I've got a hint of stage fright or a case of nerves.