The wellbeing of musicians is, at last, being taken seriously. Young musicians are now not only expected to take care of themselves, they are respected for doing so. The taboos around stage fright and injury are finally breaking down and a new openness, curiosity and empathy are taking their place. Most colleges now have performance coaches, well-being lecturers and/or yoga, Dalcroze or Alexander Technique teachers on hand. In this atmosphere, musicians are hungry for new approaches to their instruments, approaches that do not separate their increasingly healthy bodies and minds from their increasingly brilliant techniques and musical inspiration, but which unify them.
The Breathing Bow ‘Expansion Sessions’ are designed specifically to do just that.
Ruth Phillips can take a group of up to ten students and help them experience, not just through ideas and concepts but through the felt sense, how the breath is the thing that unifies all the elements that go into being a string player. Students will come away with a new experience of how they can use their breath to support them and calm them, how it is always there on hand to teach them about movement, presence, rubato and phrasing.
In a three-hour workshop, Ruth will concentrate on the expansion and contraction of the rib cage, how the arms float away from and return to the body in response to that movement and how this connects us to the tension and release of the music.
In a daylong workshop, we will continue breath work before exploring gravity and rebound and how, when we’re grounded, the upper body becomes light, allowing for the left hand’s self-assured movement. In the second half of the session, through two masterclasses, we will look at how this all comes alive through the music and in performance.
Below is a rough timetable. What happens is largely dictated, naturally, by who is in the room and what their needs are.
Ruth also offers these workshops in collaboration with Jane Fenton. Jane, a cellist and Scaravelli inspired yoga teacher brings her profound knowledge of how the body moves and breathes and adds another dimension to the work. Half days and day Breathing Bow workshops are available with Ruth, or Ruth and Jane.
10am – Introductions and group discussion about how we experience the breath in the body during practice and performance.
10.30 – Meditation, becoming present in the body through the breath.
10.45 – Breathing exercises 1 and 2, lying and standing. The expansion and contraction of the ribcage, how it allows the arms to float away from and fall back to the body.
11.15 – Break
11.30 – Breathing exercises 3 and 4. With instruments. Exploring the natural tension and release in the arms as they follow the breath. Non-doing. Where movement happens on release.
12.00 – Breathing exercise 5. Connecting the expansion and contraction of harmony and melody to that of the breath, how this determines such things as bow distribution, contact point, and width of vibrato.
12.40 – Closing discussion
Afternoon workshop –
2pm – Meditation on listening.
2.15 – Through gentle yoga inspired movements exploring the feet, gravity and rebound. Finding lightness in the upper body through grounding.
2.45 – Gravity and rebound as it works for us in the arms – how this determines such things as bow speed, attack, release, vibrato and shifting.
3.15 – Break
3.30 – Breathing up and down the spine.
3.45 – Masterclass (two students). Putting it all together through musical performance and presence.
To discuss or book your Expansion Session at your school, institution or college, please contact Ruth directly HERE