Based on proven strategies of song-based respiratory therapy (Singing for Lung Health: SLH), the ARTS for HEALTH AUSTRIA association, partnered with two startups, ArtWave and Ludwig Med accompanied by IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems and pulmonologist Dr. Milos Petrovic present a visionary project that combines art, medicine and music therapy. As part of the “Aufatmen” initiative, a team of experienced breathing trainers, singers and music therapists create a mindful and musical breathing program for individuals diagnosed and living with long-term effects of Covid-19. This program should lead to the improvement of breathing processes and relaxation i.e. fear and stress reduction, etc.  It should also support the physical and mental well-being of the affiliated project participants; in the hopes they can literally breathe easy again. A similar project “Breathe”, by the English National Opera underlines the strong international demand for such solutions in the context of fighting pandemics, as well as their acceptance by those affected.

Adrian Eröd
(c) Gabriele Schacherl

On the basis of scientific findings on the positive effects of singing on respiratory-related processes in the human body (e.g. „Singing for Lung Health), we have created a six-week program that can be attended online as well as face-to-face. The weekly sessions include posture improvement exercises, breathing and voice training in combination with singing simple songs together as a group.

The therapeutic program is artistically supported with audio and video recordings by professional singers and musicians. Folk songs and lullabies are used, as well as specially compiled works from opera literature that illicit calming or vitalizing effects. Furthermore, explanatory videos are created with experts that give instructions on breathing and singing whilst introducing the meaning and concept of the project in a simple and clear manner. These materials will be available online for participants to download throughout the program.

ARTS for HEALTH AUSTRIA are honored to have the City of Vienna, Porticus Foundation as well as the Austrian Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection as financial supporters for this pilot project. The Theater an der Wien and the jazz club Porgy & Bess made their premises available for the video recordings. Cape 10 from Dr. Siegfried Meryn offers the ideal setting for the conclusion of the pilot project, which culminates in a joyful coming together, a “soirée” in which the artists and music therapists, together with the participants and doctors, perform works that were developed in the course of the program.

The aim of „Aufatmen“ is to support those who are suffering from long-term effects of Covid-19 through the use of art in their recovery. The training program offers long-term Covid sufferers a supplement to rehabilitation clinic programs. The pilot project, which runs from September to November 2021, is scientifically accompanied and evaluated by a research project at the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems.

Apart from evaluating the changes in wellbeing, we are looking at the clinical evidence on pulmonary functions before and after the program. Therme Wien Med is supporting the clinical test.

Literally translated in English “Aufatmen” means a sigh of relief, with this project we hope to bring just that a sigh of relief with music.

Aufatmen Ensemble
(c) Gabriele Schacherl

Artists participating in the project include: KS Adrian Eröd, baritone and ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera; Rebecca Nelsen, soprano and ensemble member of the Volksoper Wien; Anna Nekhames, soprano and ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera and Volksoper Wien, Johanna von der Deken; the Alliance Quartet and Delbeau Film. Cesár Sampson (third place winner in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018) acts as Ambassador for „Aufatmen“ in a new role for him.

Artistic direction: Jennifer Davison, Bea Robein

Project coordination: Oliver Peter Graber

Scientific, medical and therapeutic team: Dr. Gerhard Tucek (ICM FH Krems), Mag. Marlies Sobotka, Iris Zoderer, MA; Dr. Michaela Popp and Dr. Milos Petrovic (lung specialists).

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