Yoga and saxophone performance: the integration of two disciplines

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The integration of yoga into the music curriculum has the potential of offering many immediate and life-long benefits to musicians. Yoga can help address issues such as performance anxiety and

The integration of yoga into the music curriculum has the potential of offering many immediate and life-long benefits to musicians. Yoga can help address issues such as performance anxiety and musculoskeletal problems, and enhance focus and awareness during musical practice and performance. Although the philosophy of yoga has many similarities to the process of learning a musical instrument, the benefits of yoga for musicians is a topic that has gained attention only recently. This document explores several ways in which the practice and philosophy of yoga can be fused with saxophone pedagogy as one way to prepare students for a healthy and successful musical career. A six-week study at Arizona State University was conducted to observe the effects of regular yoga practice on collegiate saxophone students. Nine participants attended a sixty-minute "yoga for musicians" class twice a week. Measures included pre- and post- study questionnaires as well as personal journals kept throughout the duration of the study. These self-reported results showed that yoga had positive effects on saxophone playing. It significantly increased physical comfort and positive thinking, and improved awareness of habitual patterns and breath control. Student participants responded positively to the idea of integrating such a course into the music curriculum. The integration of yoga and saxophone by qualified professionals could also be a natural part of studio class and individual instruction. Carrie Koffman, professor of saxophone at The Hartt School, University of Hartford, has established one strong model for the combination of these disciplines. Her methods and philosophy, together with the basics of Western-style hatha yoga, clinical reports on performance injuries, and qualitative data from the ASU study are explored. These inquiries form the foundation of a new model for integrating yoga practice regularly into the saxophone studio.