By Kapila Love 

"Breathe, you are alive!" -Thich Nhat Hanh

Isn't it amazing that breathing, the most fundamental of life processes, is one that we take for granted nearly all of the time? (Perhaps that is as it should be: If breathing were under our conscious control, we would very likely forget to breathe and cease to exist!) Oxygen is the fuel we run on, yes; breathing is fundamental to our existence, yes.

But breathing is of special relevance to us in music class: it helps us sing. It puts energy into our voices. This air we expel gives life to our songs, and this is what we offer in fellowship and love to all others in our music classes, to caregivers and children alike. And of course, breathing helps us find the energy and the means to dance with our loved ones, little and big.

Perhaps most importantly, conscious breathing brings us back to where we are — where we are sitting or standing, what we are doing, whom we are with, and how we feel. This is important. The physical act of taking a breath — a conscious breath — easily translates into keeping our focus and concentration right in front of us, right in front of our children. And giving them the gift of our attention, time, and care is one that no money can buy.

From being comes breathing, and from breathing comes … just being. And of what use is that to you, dear parents, in music class, or anywhere else for that matter? Most importantly, breathing allows you to relax, even if that relaxation lasts a mere moment. Setting aside all the mental activity you inevitably carry with you wherever you go, you may be able to see your child through a completely new lens. You may be fortunate enough to observe something about their musical or social behavior that you missed. Being relaxed and alert, you will be far more likely to respond to them in a way that is clear, meaningful, and loving.

Although children are born with a natural, intuitive capacity to be mindful — and can teach their parents a thing or two about living "in the moment" — responding in kind, breathing mindfully, as the parent or as the caregiver, can only help children reinforce their own natural mindfulness. Who knows what mysteries and discoveries lie in their paths when they are able to tune into the present moment themselves? The best part of all this is that you'll actually be there, in body and spirit, to share their precious moments with them.

So take a deep breath, be with your child, and enjoy the music as one.

Born in Nigeria, Kapila Love is a citizen of Canada and traces her ancestral home to Southern India. She was surrounded by music even before birth: Her mother trained in Karnatik music (classical Southern Indian music) and passed this formal training to Kapila from her earliest years. Kapila has sung in public throughout her life and can belt out a tune at the drop of a hat. She loves helping children and their caregivers, enjoying the outdoors with her husband, and singing by the Braes Bayou with her ukulele and guitar.