Flute Playing and Health?

The Chiff & Fipple Irish Flute on-line community. Sideblown for your protection.
est
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:17 am
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: Kind of a beginner with a keyless flute and an antique wooden flute with keys. Used to play accordion back some time ago, but trying to focus on the flute, until I can get some degree of command over it.

Flute Playing and Health?

Post by est »

I've read a couple of news stories about research discussing 2 different benefits from breath related activities:

4/7/8 is a technique that is supposed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is what the body uses to bring you down from stress. The technique involves drawing in breath for 4 seconds, holding it for 7 seconds and then slowly breathing out for 8 seconds. The story I ready suggested that had been shown to help some folks who had trouble sleeping..to sleep. However, it has long been used to help people to relax.

Then today, I ready about this device, PowerBreath, which had been shown to reduce blood pressure. It basically provides breathing resistance which is supposed to stimulate the production of some sort of agent that helps reduce constriction of blood vesssels.

So, I wonder if the work we have to do to play the flute over longer periods of time has very real health consequences. I know that I have noticed that if I miss my morning flute practice I tend to be a lot grumpier. I don't know if the 1+ hour of effort lowers stress or just brings me pleasure, but it does seem to be real. I'm considering buying one of those PowerBreath things, not to lower by BP, but to see if it may help strengthen my diaphram so I can play longer on a single breath, lol.
User avatar
Terry McGee
Posts: 2538
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 4:12 pm
Please enter the next number in sequence: 1
Location: Malua Bay, on the NSW Nature Coast
Contact:

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Terry McGee »

Hmmm, flute playing as stress relief? A PhD in that one, est. But it might help explain why flute players (at large, and in my experience) tend to be pretty laid back. Pipers notoriously grumpy, and fiddle players highly-strung?

There's been a lot of discussion over recent years about the medical benefits of singing (endorphins) and music-playing and dancing (problem-solving), so flute playing could well be in the same ballparks.

My box-player mate and I have been trying to get out when weather permits (it's a La Niña year here in Australia so we're at the flooding rains end of the weather spectrum. Makes a change from bushfires!). We went out to our usual haunt, a wharf in Batemans Bay, but there was a threatening breeze coming up - the kind of thing that messes with flute and whistle jets. So we sought out a more-sheltered place, in the lee of a fish and chip shop that also runs boat cruises on the river. Quite a few people around, and most seemed to acknowledge us with smiles, thumbs up, pausing for a chat, etc. Nice.

After a while a lady in uniform sat down opposite us, and I wondered if we were about to be asked to leave. She was smiling though. We got to the end of the set, and she identified herself as the "skipper" of the cruise boat, which was moored nearby and taking on passengers for the luncheon cruise. She asked if we were doing anything in the next few hours, and would we like to come on the cruise? Apparently, a lot of the people who had milled past us to embark on board had suggested to her that we should be invited. We deferred on the grounds that we had already been going for a few hours, and both had obligations in the hours ahead, but we left future possibility open. But hey, nice to be asked, eh? Especially when she went on to tell us the days each week that she was skipper, making it subtly clear that she wanted us on one of her days!

So what has that all got to do with the topic? I'll put forward the notion that there is a further "feel-good" factor in playing music for an unsuspecting public. Providing of course that your level of music playing has developed beyond bumbling idiot or mental health threat, and that you can find a nice place to play where people aren't inconvenienced if they don't like it!
User avatar
Conical bore
Posts: 459
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:12 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Location: Pacific Northwest USA

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Conical bore »

I can't say if playing flute all by itself has health benefits beyond what Terry mentioned (which are true!), because we're probably all different in how much we focus on deep breathing with diaphragm, all the "right" ways to do it compared to just leaning back and playing flute as if we're talking to someone.

I know I'm personally pretty lax in trying to develop my breathing by exercise, vs. just playing tunes and trying to build stamina that way. I've always been bad at rote exercise unrelated to the music. Those who intentionally work on their breathing may have measurable benefit.

WRT that PowerBreathe gadget, yeah, I read an NPR article about it.
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-sho ... d-pressure

I'm normally very skeptical about gadgets, but NPR (US National Public Radio) is usually a reputable source that doesn't go in for alt-medicine nonsense. It sounds intriguing as an "easy" way to improve breathing that could apply to flute, as well as having other health benefits. Of course easy paths tend to make one skeptical, but it's not very expensive and I may try the gadget. If I do, I'll report any perceived benefits and please do likewise.
User avatar
Nanohedron
Moderatorer
Posts: 37502
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: Been a fluter, citternist, and uilleann piper; committed now to the way of the harp.

Oh, yeah: also a mod here, not a spammer. A matter of opinion, perhaps.
Location: Lefse country

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Nanohedron »

I've been looking at this out of concern that the topic might be touching on violation of CCCP 10, but honestly, I don't see it so long as discussion of the contrivance's pertinence to fluteplaying is to the fore. Earnest discussion of its other touted medical benefits is not permitted except in private. If anyone has better arguments against it, please contact Ben or me.

My 2¢: The PowerBreathe thingum very probably has a positive effect in strengthening the diaphragm. Beyond that, its benefit to fluteplaying probably depends on the individual, although it's true that strength can make fine control easier.
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano
User avatar
Terry McGee
Posts: 2538
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 4:12 pm
Please enter the next number in sequence: 1
Location: Malua Bay, on the NSW Nature Coast
Contact:

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Terry McGee »

est wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 12:31 pm Then today, I ready about this device, PowerBreath, which had been shown to reduce blood pressure. It basically provides breathing resistance which is supposed to stimulate the production of some sort of agent that helps reduce constriction of blood vesssels.
Hmmm, an instrument that provides breathing resistance with the aim of altering blood pressure. There's a technical name for that, isn't there. I know - "the Scottish Bagpipes"!

I'm not sure that pressure training would be all that relevant to flute playing, as we are dealing with a family of instruments that depend on flow, not pressure. (The only such instruments incidentally, the other woodwinds are pressure driven.) I am aware that humans at large tend to not develop or use all the lung capacity available to us. It would be interesting to know if flute players score better than average at this, and if Irish flute players are at the apex of that group. If not us, who? And how dare they?

A glance online for "deep breathing benefits" scored "About 112,000,000 results (0.57 seconds)". Breathtaking! Someone like to check them out for flutical relevance?
User avatar
Nanohedron
Moderatorer
Posts: 37502
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: Been a fluter, citternist, and uilleann piper; committed now to the way of the harp.

Oh, yeah: also a mod here, not a spammer. A matter of opinion, perhaps.
Location: Lefse country

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Nanohedron »

Terry McGee wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 12:24 am
est wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 12:31 pm Then today, I ready about this device, PowerBreath, which had been shown to reduce blood pressure. It basically provides breathing resistance which is supposed to stimulate the production of some sort of agent that helps reduce constriction of blood vesssels.
Hmmm, an instrument that provides breathing resistance with the aim of altering blood pressure. There's a technical name for that, isn't there. I know - "the Scottish Bagpipes"!

I'm not sure that pressure training would be all that relevant to flute playing, as we are dealing with a family of instruments that depend on flow, not pressure. (The only such instruments incidentally, the other woodwinds are pressure driven.) I am aware that humans at large tend to not develop or use all the lung capacity available to us. It would be interesting to know if flute players score better than average at this, and if Irish flute players are at the apex of that group. If not us, who? And how dare they?

A glance online for "deep breathing benefits" scored "About 112,000,000 results (0.57 seconds)". Breathtaking! Someone like to check them out for flutical relevance?
:lol:

I can tell you this: At a session I dropped a peanut (shelled, please) into my flute, closed all the holes and covered the embouchure with my mouth, girded my diaphragmatic loins, blew for all I was worth, and that sucker went sailing. My fluteplaying wasn't any better for the display of might.
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano
User avatar
Terry McGee
Posts: 2538
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 4:12 pm
Please enter the next number in sequence: 1
Location: Malua Bay, on the NSW Nature Coast
Contact:

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Terry McGee »

Heh heh. Presumably the conical bore offers an advantage here over the Boehm as the air will tend to speed up at the bottom end....

I wonder how far away can you blow a candle out? And can you make a candle flame flutter with the power of your low D?
jim stone
Posts: 17107
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2001 6:00 pm

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by jim stone »

Here is an abstract of a paper on a related topic, from the Annals of The Salzburg Kazoo Collegium, Dec. 2020.

Abstract--'Kazoo: menace or panacea?'

A long term demographic study shows that playing the kazoo lowers the musician's blood pressure and slows her heart rate. There are also benefits to thyroid function as well as lower cholesterol. However the effects on the audience are reversed. Also 57 percent of the audience report an existential crisis, and say things like: 'Why go on?'

These reports support the larger contention that, generally, playing an instrument that is good for the musician is bad for the audience. We submit this contention deserves to be taken seriously, after our demographic study, despite some of the histrionics surrounding the subject, e.g. 'Five-String Banjo: Strings of Death,' Picker's Review.'
'
User avatar
stiofan
Posts: 490
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2003 1:43 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: I've been a C&Fer since 2003. Currently playing wooden flute & (mainly low) whistles, along with the cello.
Location: Sonoma County, CA USA

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by stiofan »

For the maximum cardiovascular workout, don't forget the hyperbass flute.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbass_flute
Image
User avatar
an seanduine
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:06 pm
antispam: No
Location: just outside Xanadu

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by an seanduine »

Sounds an awful lot like Pranayama.
Recently some of these concepts have seeped into the pop-conciousness in things like ´Square Breathing´ or ´Combat Breathing´.
The speed reading on this bundle of nearly pre-historic breath-mastery techniques is anything that adds awareness and control of your breathing can be beneficial.
A modern physiological take is this can stimulate and sooth your vagus nerve and help your mind-body state.

I dunno. What I do know is long tones on the flute sooth my soul and improve my embouchure. :D

Bob
Not everything you can count, counts. And not everything that counts, can be counted

The Expert's Mind has few possibilities.
The Beginner's mind has endless possibilities.
Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi
PB+J
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: Hello. I'm a historian and musical dabbler living near Washington DC. I play the bass and guitar in Irish music I play the flute.

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by PB+J »

I got into playing the flute largely because I was writing about Francis O'Neill and thought I would need a more direct understanding of the music. But my other motive, As a man of a certain age, was physical, keeping the old bellows going and pushing myself.

It feels good to play the flute, that is, when it's not frustrating, but I'm not sure about health benefits.
User avatar
chas
Posts: 7671
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2001 6:00 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 10
Location: East Coast US

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by chas »

stiofan wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 2:02 pm For the maximum cardiovascular workout, don't forget the hyperbass flute.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbass_flute
Image
Here's a sorta buddy of mine on the contrabass:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QSQMyB1C0g
Charlie
Whorfin Woods
"Our work puts heavy metal where it belongs -- as a music genre and not a pollutant in drinking water." -- Prof Ali Miserez.
jim stone
Posts: 17107
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2001 6:00 pm

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by jim stone »

I must have one!
User avatar
Nanohedron
Moderatorer
Posts: 37502
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: Been a fluter, citternist, and uilleann piper; committed now to the way of the harp.

Oh, yeah: also a mod here, not a spammer. A matter of opinion, perhaps.
Location: Lefse country

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Nanohedron »

jim stone wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2022 11:23 am I must have one!
Permit me to suggest also an assistant, to shoulder the indignity of lugging it around.
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano
Narzog
Posts: 443
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:21 pm
antispam: No
Please enter the next number in sequence: 8
Tell us something.: Can play several instruments at an unimpressive level. Currently most interested in whistling with a side of acoustic guitar.

Re: Flute Playing and Health?

Post by Narzog »

I was a chest breather years ago, and now from whistle/flute playing, and fitness related stuff that require proper breathing, I breathe through my diaphragm properly now. Chest breathing is supposed to raise stress levels and other weird things I think. Idk how true that is. But cold technically be a slight health benefit from playing wind instruments.
Post Reply