Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is Breath in Music? Part 2 - Piano Demonstration

A more in-depth lesson on breathing in music

In this second part of the previously published video about breathing in music, Robert gives you a practical demonstration.

Released on May 24, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, Robert Estrin here at and You know, a number of years ago, I had a video where I talked about breathing in music. And it's an interesting fact that there's always the sense of breath in music. Of course wind instruments, they have no choice, but even when playing the piano, you have to have the sense of the breath. And I had someone ask me, "Could you demonstrate this concept?" And I thought that's a great idea. So I have chosen the second movement of the beautiful K. 332 F major Sonata of Mozart. And I'm going to play just the beginning for you, and then I'm going to explain where the breaths are.

You might already sense where the breaths are. When I lifted up my hand, it was the breath. Watch, I'll demonstrate for you, so you get a sense of where those breaths occur.

You know, if you played it without the sense of breath, it would really lose so much in the music. I guess I'm going to try, it's going to be so unnatural for me, but listen to it without the sense of breath, if I could do that.

It's lifeless, it has no soul. Because the music has to have this natural element, because after all, even on the piano, you're imitating the quality of the human voice, as all instruments essentially do. So listen one more time with the sense of the breath. I won't show you the breath, but you'll know where they are, and I delineate it by the lifting of the hands.

You know, it's not just the breath itself, it's the whole sense of the line, the rise and the fall within the phrase that the breath supports, or the concept of the breath on the piano, where you don't physically have to breathe. But you must bring life to the music with the breath. I hope this has been enlightening for you. Again, Robert Estrin at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

margaret cumming * VSM MEMBER * on March 20, 2019 @7:06 am PST
Thanks so much, Robert. I've been wondering about this for a while as a keen amateur violnist. if I consciously match my breathing to where the music breathes that could help me with my nerves.....
Phyllis * VSM MEMBER * on March 20, 2019 @5:02 am PST
So breath marks are not actually marked in music but may be I inserted by the pianist where they have a sense or feel for the insertion?
Member * VSM MEMBER * on May 31, 2017 @9:25 am PST
Thank you very much, Mr. Estrin.
How do I reconcile taking breaths with counting beats?
Or are breaths taken under artistic license?
Robert Estrin - host, on June 2, 2017 @5:00 pm PST
Breaths are not rhythmic in nature. You must keep your counting and still have a sense of where phrases begin and end which is where breaths occur.
Akin-Ajayi Oluwaseun Collins on May 27, 2017 @5:06 am PST
Really love your analysis there, thanks.
David Montague * VSM MEMBER * on May 25, 2017 @5:38 pm PST
That was very cool. Thank you.
Lynda on May 24, 2017 @12:31 pm PST
Awesome! Thanks
Mary J Tait * VSM MEMBER * on May 24, 2017 @2:51 am PST
Thank you.
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