by Steve Eulberg
I remember the question from the cardiologist I visited on my 33rd birthday.
I was there because my heart was skipping beats periodically and heart disease runs in my family.
After the stress test failed to produce any abnormalities they concluded that the source of this anomaly may be just day-to-day stress, rather than being physical activity-induced.
So their strategy was to be certain that I was building a strong physical system that could withstand the mental, social and emotional stressors of an inner-city pastor.
But still the question made me pause….
“In what forms of exercise do you regularly participate?”
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “I remember how to spell that word: e-x-e-r-c-i-s-e.”
(There were NO forms of exercise in which I was regularly engaged.)
The following week I began a program of swimming, which has always been my preferred method of exercise: low-to-no impact, aerobic and using many muscles groups, in addition to focusing on breathing. That program has continued to this day. Everywhere I have lived and travel, I do my best to find a swimming pool and make being there regularly and often a priority in my schedule
So, by now you might be wondering what this has to do with music?
Usually when we speak of exercises in music, we are playing a fingering pattern, or developing a hammering pattern, or becoming more dextrous with hammer-ons or pull-offs, or learning bends and releases, not something aerobic like, well, swimming!
Patrick Gannon, PhD, in an article written for the International Musician (journal of the American Federation of Musicians), borrows from the world of sports psychology to help the kinds of mental training needed to deal with performance anxiety.
He begins with Exercise As Medicine for Your Music. (This short article is full of tips for how exercise can help you relax and learn more effectively!)
Just this week, as I began to feel the weight and pressure of decisions and preparations and deadlines and schedules that I face, I decided to take his advice and increase the length of time I was swimming in my daily swim sessions.
Wow, the sense of calm and centeredness, the depth of sleep without anxiety of dreams, were very noticeable.
So now, my question is for you:
In what regular exercise do you participate?