Sharing Accumulated Experience, Insight and Expertise with You.

Our Knowledge Bank intends to provide complimentary stimulus to our classes. We publish articles, essays and blogs from faculty members, participants and members of our community that are relevant to topics and themes explored at The Exhale. Each piece is reviewed by faculty members of The Exhale, or practitioners and academics close to our organisation who share a similar field of interest, before being published. We hope that this lends the platform a sense of depth and shared wisdom that offers food for thought and contemplation. Please contact us if you would like your articles to appear here!

Classical music sustainability

Classical Music and Sustainability

by Scott Morrison

The climate crisis affects all of us. It requires us to make significant changes in our personal lives, social lives, and in our professional lives as well.

The classical music sector has not yet made the necessary changes to thrive in a net-zero world. Single-use plastics may be slowly disappearing from rehearsal rooms, and single-sided printing may have all but vanished from offices, but the most significant changes – to the values and business models that underpin the sector – are yet to be made.

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The Musician As Designer

by Clíodhna Ryan

In October 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, and one of the longest lockdowns in Europe, I began searching for something to sustain me through the dark months of winter and early spring. Kreutzer Etudes and Unaccompanied Bach weren’t quite providing the social aspect of life I needed to stay afloat. I came across a postgraduate course in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin. It was government subsidised, was nine months long, was all online, and was a significant commitment time wise. This was it! This was my life line! So, I applied, got a place, and began an extraordinary journey that changed my perception and thinking about design, it’s impact on our lives, and how transformative human-centred design can be.

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An Introduction to Colourstrings

By Rachel Erdos

Anyone who has young children or has the privilege to work with young children knows about the qualities they possess; qualities that adults and teens can feel were lost very early on in life. The ability to experience joy in anything and everything. To be engrossed in an activity for hours without any loss of flow or awareness. To be able to conjure a whole world from the imagination or to turn a repetitive task (practice, essentially) into a game. The list goes on. Is it really inevitable that these qualities are completely lost as we master a skill or just learn how to function and survive in the world?

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Preservation or Reformation?

by Johanna Schwarzl

Last week we read an interview on with director of the Styriarte music festival, Mathis Huber. In the interview Mathis says:
“It has been proven that society doesn’t miss the so-called bourgeois high-culture when it’s suddenly not there anymore. The Lamento about the closings of theaters mainly came from the cultural sector itself. […] I have observed that art is not to be found at the center of society but rather in its periphery, somewhere between public swimming pools and brothels. This observation is quite healthy, because it forces us to seek for ‘therapies’ which will bring art back into the heart of society. Of course, I exaggerate slightly but I find it curative to be made aware of the fact that the cultural sector only moves in its own bubble and mistakenly believes that this bubble encompasses the entire world.” (Burianek, Stephan: „Das klassische Bildungsbürgertum ist ausgestorben“ (24.06.2021).

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Some Advice to Young Musicians

by Janet Horvath

One of my adult students, who happens to be a heart surgeon, came to a lesson last week with an idea. For his upcoming birthday, during the gathering at his home, he’s thinking he’d like to perform three or four cello pieces with the piano accompaniment for his friends. “Tell me if I’m crazy!” he said. I told him I thought it was a terrific plan. Not only would it give him the incentive to prepare and polish some pieces, but I was certain his friends and family would no doubt be delighted and proud of his accomplishments. And what could be more special than sharing music?

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Music meets Yoga

The Alchemy

by Veronika Shoot

We live in a culture that is aimed at getting things done fast—being the best in our fields, driven by competitiveness and the pursuit of power. There is a goal-oriented vision in achievements which has also seeped its way into the music world, institutions and career paths. It is common to suffer from anxiety, nerves, sleeping problems and pressures that manifest themselves within our bodies, creating an imbalance. Often, in order to achieve something, people – including musicians – ignore the signals their body gives to call to attention excessive pressure, thinking their mind knows better.

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Standing Twist

How I Fell in Love with Yoga

by Gwendolyn Masin

When I met Clare Nicholls, I had been exploring yoga - I had enjoyed the benefits of movement in harmony with breath but I also felt that I was being led through a world where I was being shown things in random order. The arbitrary nature of how I experienced it being taught was confusing to me and kept me away from the wish to commit to: myself. Myself on the mat.

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A Few More Puzzle Pieces

How to Happily Marry Tension Release with Better Ergonomics

by Claire Stefani

Musicians move … A LOT! This is a sentence at the core of the Body Mapping approach and it left me quite perplexed when I heard it for the first time in 2013. Me, a former athlete … how could I assume that serious movement belonged only to sports? Not only do we musicians move a lot, but we humans in general behave better physically and psychologically (!) when we accept that we are in fact made of a bunch of solid parts kept together in movement by soft tissues. Still and static means trouble for our wellbeing. Dynamic balance does sound better, doesn’t it?

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Amy Likar Blog for The Exhale Photo Abby Sink

Creating the Virtuous Circle

Musical expression and physical freedom, ease and presence as the goal of practicing

by Amy Likar

Through working with and practicing Body Mapping and the Alexander Technique for over 29 years now and I have become firmly convinced that musical intention helps free the body and a free body helps free musical intention. Organizing ourselves physically to create musical expression facilitates an easier process in the practice room. Clear understanding of the body in motion leads to a more expressive approach to music making.

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Challenges for the Aging Musician

by Janet Horvath

Playing a musical instrument is an amazing endeavor. It’s thrilling when a performance is everything we want it to be and the audience erupts in applause. If we’ve conveyed the beauty, meaning, and emotion of the music, and not the physical effort, we’re gratified. Behind the scenes though, every time we pick up our instruments, we are challenged on every level.

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Feldenkrais for Your Grounding as a (Musical) Inspiration

by Paul Pui Wo Lee

Every Sunday with the musicians here at The Exhale, I feel the Zoom meeting room glow with an aura of care - an air of artistic and living dignity. This Sunday, after quite an extensive Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® (ATM®) lesson, here are some of the responses:

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Meditation on Silence

by Janet Horvath

As a young cellist, one of the first things I learned was that a page of music waits, quietly. A musical score, says pianist Jeremy Denk, is “at once a book and a book waiting to be written.” The act of playing music is an act of recreation—which brings to life the intentions of the composer.

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Body Mapping in the Music Studio – Part 2

Musicians Move! A Body Mapping Example

by Jennifer Johnson

One injury that commonly appears in young students is pain and tension in the muscles of the shoulder and upper back region. Teachers often ask about it and though its cause is always related to a head that’s not balanced on the spine, or ribs that aren’t moving freely enough with every breath, the root cause is that the whole arm has not been mapped. For this reason, I am including in this article a brief (and slightly edited) excerpt from Teaching Body Mapping to Children which addresses this problem.

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The Whisper in the Gaps

Meditation Meets Creativity in a Time of Lockdown

by Rolf Hind

One of my first yoga teachers made an observation that has stuck with me. The difficulty with yoga, he said, unlike other things in the world that yell for our attention, is that it whispers. And so its values and message are often ignored, or drowned out.

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Self Trust

A Musician’s Secret Weapon

by Amy Littlewood

‘I’ll just go over that passage one more time’. These sound like the words of a diligent student? Well… not in this case! This was me, back when I was at music college. On the face of it, my practice looked to be well structured, detailed and with hours of commitment each day. Why then, did I not feel adequately equipped when I walked out on stage?

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Body Mapping in the Music Studio – Part 1

Musicians Move!

by Jennifer Johnson

There is a story about Jascha Heifetz being greeted backstage after a performance by an admiring fan. She gushed to him “Your violin makes such a beautiful sound!” Still holding his violin, Heifetz held it up to his ear and said “Funny, I don’t hear anything!” His point, of course, was that regardless of how wonderful a violin is, no sound will emerge from it at all until the player sets the strings vibrating and that it’s the skill of the player that makes it sound beautiful or not.

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How I Stumbled Upon Body Mapping

by Aisling Casey

I stumbled upon Body Mapping while investigating better ways to explain how to do certain oboe techniques to my Conservatoire students. Many of the books I read on oboe technique either contradicted each other or contained statements that I just didn’t agree with. Eventually I came across Oboemotions by Stephen Caplan, a guide to oboe playing using the principles of Body Mapping which resonated with me as being a healthy and sensible approach to playing the oboe and prompted me to find out more. Finally, someone was explaining oboe technique based on the truth of the anatomy and HOW we use our bodies.

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Chamber Music - Why We Should Facilitate It

by Joanne Green

As a one-to-one instrumental teacher, do you play duets with your students? Or accompany them on the piano? Do you get your students together to play chamber music? Do you encourage them to play in a string group or attend group lessons? Do you encourage them to join an orchestra? I think we all understand that music is ultimately a type of social glue; a way to bring humans together into a close-knit community. To study and play only in isolation defeats the purpose of learning to play in the first place.

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Gwedolyn Masin Violinist Founder of The Exhale Blog

Reframing the Big Picture

The Origin of Human Movement

by Gwendolyn Masin

Call it an obsession, but I notice how people walk, how they stand, how they sit. When I see people, I see posture, and I feel their presence as transmitted through their body. So, it strikes me that so many violinists have been trained or exposed to teaching that either doesn’t confront posture, or indeed, teaches stance and motions that are not in harmony with natural body movements.

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