Don't forget to breathe!
A couple of times a day, my smart watch pops up a little reminder - "take a minute to breathe!". What a crazy thing to say - I don't need a minute to breathe - I do it all day! I don't even have to think about it, it just happens - it's not something we've ever had to learn to do. But actually, my watch has a point. In the business of the day, it's really good to stop and just breathe for a minute.
The app takes you through a basic, one minute breathing exercise: become conscious of your breathing, then take good, timed breaths in and out for one minute. I've found this a really useful way of taking a couple of minutes a day to stop and relax. And I've found that that simple technique is lowering my heart rate (my watch tells me that too!) and is helping me deal with stress and anxiety. I sometimes use that same exercise when I'm feeling that things are a bit much or I'm finding myself getting upset or rattled.
Breathing is the foundation of good singing and good playing for wind instrumentalists. It's one of the first things I teach but also one that crops up regularly as part of technique throughout a musician's learning journey. You soon learn that, although you thought you knew how to breathe, actually you don't! At least not in a way that's helpful to creating great music.
But the breathing you learn as a musician has other effects. As well as lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, it can increase the levels of oxygen in your blood (it's how your body starts the process of getting the oxygen it needs to survive). But good breathing also helps you think more clearly, reduces stress and improves your metabolism and circulation.
If you've been part of one of my singing groups, you'll know that I usually start with a breathing exercise. It's a great way to get started, particularly for singers who are nervous about singing with others for the first time.
So, just for me, take a minute to breathe today - it's good for you!