Space To Breathe

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one word prompt.
The prompt today is “breathe.”


When I think of breathing, the first thing that comes to mind is music.  As a wind player, it is incredibly important to learn how to breathe correctly in order to create a good tone.  It is also important to learn when to breathe- to breathe between phrases where it makes sense musically- and to learn how to sustain your breath to make it last to the end of the phrase.

It is not always an easy task, especially when you are faced with music that looks like this:


The wind band I am part of often plays pieces originally written for orchestra, which have been arranged for wind band.  The problem is the parts that are on violin in the original version are often given to the clarinets, but sometimes arrangers forget that we need space to breathe.

It’s fine for violinists- they can breathe whenever they like without it affecting the music- but clarinettists need space in the music to take a breath so that they can continue.

Life can sometimes feel like playing one of those parts.  Demands and responsibilities pile up, our to-do lists spiral out of control, we feel we have to keep going, otherwise the whole thing is going to fall apart, and people don’t always understand why it’s so hard, but it’s impossible.  We need space to breathe.

Fortunately there is an answer: teamwork.  In a wind band there are usually at least four clarinettists, sometimes more.  You might not all be playing the same part but, as long as you breathe in different places, the overall effect is usually successful.  You take turns to keep playing, allowing others to leave a few notes out to take a breath.

I think teamwork is the answer in life too: realising that we can’t keep going indefinitely, giving out and giving out without taking in, and being honest about that, taking turns in supporting one another so that we all have the chance to get what we desperately need: space to breathe.


28 thoughts on “Space To Breathe

  1. What wonderful pictures here: of the difficulty we’re often saddled with by being asked or expected to play a part more adapted to a different kind of “player,” and of the essential value of teamwork in everyone’s being able to get the vital space they need “to breathe.” I’m no musician, but did take clarinet, and saxophone, lessons as a kid, so understand enough that when I scrolled down and saw that musical score, I laughed and murmured “Oh, my!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lesley, your thoughts on playing the clarinet (clever you!) and team work made me think about Holy Spirit being the Wind we need and our brothers and sisters in faith being the team. We are not all full of strengthening holy breath at the same time, so some can rest while others can carry the tune, then we do likewise when we are stronger. Thank you for this lovely thought-provoking post! Bless you, friend. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lesley, just showed your sheet music to my daughter who just spent the last 5 years in university playing clarinet in her wind orchestra, and she laughed because she completely understands the violin to winds swap and the lack of breathing… but you’re also right in that when we partner up with the right One, we are suddenly enabled and equipped to take it all in better! Have the best weekend, and all the blessings for the coming week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you related breathing to playing the clarinet. And that in teamwork we can manage the stresses life brings. I know I struggle in that area. I’m type A and the control freak in me often prefers to handle things solo, you know, to make sure they’re done right. Thanks for sharing, Lesley! A great reminder that when we work together, there’s more time to breathe.

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  5. I played the saxophone in high school and I understand that whole breathing thing and the importance of working together in a band to make beautiful music.
    Also even the part of “rests”…. The conductor and the writer of music writes in those period of rests for instruments and the composition of the music to work together for the good of the whole piece.
    Thanks for these good words and thoughts!
    Happy Friday to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi there! I played clarinet for six years as a child and teenager, so I get that you need occasional breathers! That music looks extremely difficult! Never really related it before that many instruments players never need to catch a breath! Wonderful story! I was #77 on Five Minute Friday today and looking up a few other posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t play an instrument, but your comparison gave me a wonderful picture of Selah. If you don’t know, selah in the Bible is instruction, often to the worship team to stop a beat (and breath). It’s also a point of rest and contemplation. Beautiful piece you wrote, thank you. God bless you. Visiting from FMF.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow Lesley, this was great. It is a great reminder to me to remember that we need to consider the needs of others, and when they are filling a role that is not typical, consider what will help lift them up and help them succeed.
    Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Lesley! I know how important it is for wind players to breathe. My daughter used to play the clarinet, and man, she would squeak like crazy if she didn’t practice.
    I love your thinking about teamwork. How can we ever be expected to carry our crosses, or our violin parts, without the help of our friends and family? Not to mention the powerful grace of God.
    May you always have the help and grace you need to play like an angel, and to help others to do the same,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ceil! I did my fair share of squeaking on the clarinet too when I was learning!
      Life is definitely much better and easier when we don’t try to do it on our own, but rely on God and others to help us through- and when we help others as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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