Richard Agnew states that:
Qigong is a perfect kind of exercise to integrate into a [music] practice routine because it involves:
- Warming up and stretching the body
- Relaxation – this is a fundamental skill of qigong
- Postural work – encouraging a neutral posture, but it is also interested in understanding the impact of different postures on the body
- Breath work, which not only helps relaxation but also massages the organs of the body and improves breath control and capacity
- Meditation – qigong can be described as a kind of moving meditation, and helps to calm the mind and regulate the emotions
Together with John Harle’s detailed study of saxophone technique and body-awareness, I shall be exploring how elementary Qigong exercises might inform and be adapted to practising the saxophone. Of course, these suggestions may be used for a variety of wind and brass instruments, with suitable adjustments. Further adjustments may be necessary according to your physical condition.
Along the way, I plan to work with other sax players to see how these approaches might enhance our enjoyment, knowledge, understanding and skills. Your feedback is always welcome.
To begin at the beginning, here is a guide for gently warming up and stretching, which can be incorporated into the first 10 minutes of your daily practice. Afterwards, rest for at least 5 minutes before playing the saxophone. It’s important to feel energised but also relaxed throughout these physical and mental processes. Finding sufficient and appropriate times to practise is equally important, therefore.
Many other examples of Qigong warm-up can be found on sites such as YouTube, featuring individuals and groups.
In the next blog of this series we’ll consider posture.