Based on proven strategies of singing-based breathing therapy (Singing for Lung Health: SLH), the association ARTS for HEALTH AUSTRIA together with the two start-ups, “ArtWave” and „Ludwig Med“ as well as the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems (IMC Fachhochschule Krems) and Dr. Milos Petrovic (lung specialist in Vienna) realized a visionary project that combines art, medicine and music therapy. Within the initiative “Aufatmen” a team of experienced breathing coaches, singers and music therapists is creating a mindful, musical breathing program for people affected by Covid-19 long-term. This program is intended to improve breathing processes and relaxation (anxiety and stress reduction, etc.), and to support the physical and mental well-being of the project participants, so that they can literally breathe a sigh of relief and revitalize themselves. A similar project „Breathe“ of the English National Opera underlines the strong demand in the international field for such solutions in the context of pandemic control as well as their acceptance by those affected.
Based on scientific findings on the positive effect of singing on respiratory processes in the human body (e.g. “Singing for Lung Health), we created a six-week program that can be taken online and (if possible) also in face-to-face form. The weekly sessions include exercises to improve posture, breathing and voice training, and singing simple songs together.
The program is artistically supported by audio and video recordings of professional singers and musicians. Folk songs and lullabies are used, as well as specially composed works of opera literature, which have a calming or energizing effect. Furthermore, explanatory videos are created with experts, which give instructions for breathing and singing and introduce the meaning and concept of the project in an easily understandable way. These materials are available online for the participants.
We were able to secure the active support of the City of Vienna, the Porticus Foundation and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection for the pilot project. Theater an der Wien and the jazz club Porgy & Bess made their premises available for the video recordings. Dr. Siegfried Meryn’s Cape 10 provides the ideal setting for the conclusion of the pilot project, which culminates in a joyful coming-together, a “soirée” at which the artists and music therapists, together with the participants and physicians, perform works that have been developed during the program.
The goal of ” Aufatmen” is to help those with Covid 19 long-term effects recover through the arts. The training program offers individuals affected by long-term Covid a compliment to rehabilitation clinic programs. The pilot project (September to November 2021) will be scientifically monitored and evaluated by a research project of the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. In addition to assessing changes in well-being, we are investigating the clinical evidence on lung functions before and after the program with the support of Therme Wien Med during the clinical test.
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 Vienna; Anna Nekhames, soprano and ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera and Volksoper Vienna, Johanna von der Deken; the Alliance Quartet; and Delbeau Film. Cesár Sampson (third place winner in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest) serves 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 (pulmonary specialists).