Musicians as Athletes: Introduction
Have you heard the saying that musicians are "athletes of the small muscles"? Think about the amount of time you spend practicing, rehearsing, performing, and teaching. Think about the amount of energy spent repeating, honing, and refining your skills. Compare that to any elite athlete and the hours and energy they spend training and fueling their bodies, and refining their skills to get them every ounce and nanosecond of advantage over their competitors. It's a decent comparison!
But I would argue that we are not just athletes of the small muscles. I don't just use my fingers and lips to play the flute any more than a marathoner uses just her feet to run a race. Our bodies ARE our instruments. Vocalists understand this a bit better than instrumentalists, but we all get a little narrowly focused when it comes to how we approach our instruments.
That narrow focus is what causes us to get those pesky "small-muscle" overuse injuries. That narrow focus is what causes us to forgo sleep in favor of an extra few hours in the practice room, to eat junk food just to get us through that last hour of rehearsal, to smoke.
Think about how much money you've spent over the years on lessons, masterclasses, festivals, all to improve your technical and musical abilities. Think again about the hours you've spent practicing, rehearsing, and performing. Now, how much money have you spent on self care; massages, personal training, gym memberships? How much time have you spent training your body to be strong, mobile, and efficient?
Your body IS your instrument! Without it functioning at its peak, whatever you are holding in your hands isn't nearly the precision tool of artistic expression you think it is.
I will be publishing a series of posts about how you, a musician, are also an athlete. Not only, hopefully, convincing you of that fact, but providing you training tools to make the most of your real instrument!