Do you play an instrument where you need absolute control of your breathing? And all the muscles that are employed to control prolonged exhaling? Then this article about musician muscle training is for you!
Musician muscle training
Did you know that your abdominal muscles should be flexible rather than strong? Yes that’s right. It’s not the muscle training you are used to from the fitness studio. We are not going to build up new muscle mass, but we are going to train our muscles so that they can endure prolonged fatigue and be flexible during it.
What we need is abdominal and pelvic muscles to be stretched and release with control, so that we can control the sound we make.
We do that by directed our air stream and manipulating its velocity, volume and pressure. Also the path it takes. The longer it takes the more we can form it into the sound we aim for. We need strong hip flexors for that so join the training —> here.
We need our muscles to be flexible and stretchable, we need to be able to relax them as well. That is what the musician muscle training is all about. Tension and relaxation in just the parts of the body we need at the moment we need it.
Too much tension will cause pain and too much relaxation won’t let us play anything, so we need to develop a sort of energy passage through our body.
As wind instrumentalists and flute players especially musician muscle training is all about the air flow.
Respiratory muscle training – 3 progressive exercises
blowing in the wind
Yeah, that’s right, we need to whistle on the wind bow we ourselves create! So here are three useful exercises to train our respiratory muscles. At first, we will train our capacity exhaling and inhaling. This way we get a feeling of how much air we can contain and where it actually goes.
Musicians like to sit and control their breathing, don’t they?
So there we go, make yourself comfortable and sit down.
- Exhale every bit of air you have got inside of you. When you think you are at the limit, exhale some more, there is still air! As you are completely empty, inhale slowly filling up the bottom of your pelvic zone first. When you pile up the air slowly to the stomach and the chest, lift your arms slightly to the side and take the air also in your armpits and your back. Hold a few seconds and exhale slowly and completely again. Repeat this exercise three times in a row and several times a week.
- As in the first exercise take in the air slowly but concentrate on different parts that need to be fully filled with air, e.g. the upper back, lower back, stomach, chest, pelvic zone. Only when they are filled, complete inhaling with the other zones. Exhale slowly but keep the air in the chosen zone for last!
- Now we will concentrate on exhaling and the involved muscles. Inhale fully and quickly. You know now what it feels like. On the sound of the consonant “f” exhale very slowly, trying to achieve 20 sec or more. While you exhale let your diaphragm go downwards instead of upwards. As the air goes out, have a downward and outward movement of your pelvic muscles, diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Kind of the opposite of exhaling. In fact, the movement should be of inhaling even though you let the air out.
Can you feel that your rips can actually expand? Especially the lower ones as they are not fixed to the sternum in front? Amazing, isn’t it? To find our more about it read my article about diaphragmatic breathing and learn about more exercises!
Abdominal muscles training – 2 useful exercises
Do we get defined abdominal muscles by paying the flute? No, unfortunately not the kind you see from bodybuilders!
But yes, you will train them to be flexible, move fast or slow and be at your service. To find out more about the diaphragm and abdominal muscles you can either read my article or have a look at wikipedia
For the following exercises lie down comfortably, but straight!
- Lying on your back take a big and heavy book, or your cat or other pet and put it on your stomach! Inhale an try to lift it with your abdomen. Now exhale again very slowly let the air out on the consonant “f”. Try to achieve 20 sec at least. But most important: keep the book, your beloved pet or whatever you put on our stomach, up high. That means your abdomen expanded and do not let it down until you run out of air. Repeat this exercise for at least three times in a row.
- Still lying on your back, put your fingers below your rips and see if you can actually enter below them. This is to see whether your muscles are relaxed. They need to be able to relax, to be flexible. Don’t worry you won’t need your pet for this! Now put your hands on your stomach and keep it low. Inhale quickly but only into the chest (it should lift). Now do not inhale or exhale, use only the air inside of you and move it. Yes, you read right. Move the air from the chest to the abdomen (which should lift, while the chest sinks) and then back again. Do this five or six times until you need to breathe again. This is crucial for the flexibility of your abdomen and diaphragm.
It would be best if you had a yoga mat to practice this on. If you don’t have one yet, be sure to check out the offer on the yoga mat I use —-> here.
Your mat should be thick, non-slip and maybe have a strap for carrying.
I personally have the one mentioned above, but you might also like to have a look at the following one. Especially if you like it softer, because this one is extra thick and comfy —–>Health and Fitness mat.
Congratulations on your patience and tenacity
Now you able to translate this to your instrument. In many different ways this will get your playing to the next level. Especially concerning the sound quality which is also determined by a good and natural vibrato that can only come from a flexible use of your diaphragm, abdominal and respiratory muscles. They all concur to the beauty of your sound and are very much your personal business card. If you like to read more about diaphragmatic breathing you can check it out here.
Use this new and fundamental skill to develop your very own vibrato and sound. On that you can read more in my article about the vibrato on the flute.
Now especially after studying your instrument, but also after training your abdomen and respiratory muscles be sure to make use of stretching techniques adequate for your posture.
I will be treating stretching for flutists especially in my next article —-> here.
So stay tuned and let me know
if I can help you any further in the comment section!
Get your hip flexors trained professionally so you will have more energy, control and fun playing the flute. When I found this training I was finally where I needed to be : hip flexors.
Happy respiration – inspiration – transpiration- admiration