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The Belt Story

March 3, 2013 fm

Of all the people who crossed your path of life at the age of ten, how many people do you remember?

I’ll always remember Norbert Zwicker. Norbert Zwicker is a passionate man. Today a schools inspector in Franconia, Northern Bavaria, Norbert was my first clarinet teacher. I spent my first year with him as a clarinet rookie.

There’s one striking fact about Norbert Zwicker. Of all the lines I’ve heard in life, of all the speeches I’ve listened to, of all the movies I’ve watched, of all the books I’ve read – one phrase sticks out.

And that’s a phrase by Norbert Zwicker.

I use it a lot in my public speaking seminars. It has everything a great phrase needs. It’s metaphorical, visual, easy to remember, and… different!

That’s why I could never forget it in almost 30 years. It’s an advice that helped me play the clarinet more powerfully. It’s an advice that helped me sing in shady karaoke bars with poise. It’s an advice that helped me speak in public more effectively. It’s an advice that Norbert Zwicker gave me in the very first lesson.

He came to our house for the first time. I was ten years old. The recently acquired clarinet was lying on the table in the living room. With a tone of humble authority my teacher said:

Before you touch the clarinet, Florian, I have to tell you something. So far in life, you’ve breathed through your lungs. From now on you’ll breathe through the holes in your belt.

Whether you play a wind instrument or speak in public – follow Norbert Zwicker’s simple advice. When you breathe through the holes in your belt you’ll breathe the way  you should breathe. You activate your diaphragm; more air is pumped into your body more rapidly. Air you definitely need when you use vocal variety.

Do you remember jokes? I’m not good at that. I’ve also forgotten many lines in life. But I’ll always remember what Norbert Zwicker told me. When I play the clarinet or speak in public I’ll always breathe through the holes in my belt.

Thank you, Norbert!

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