Time to celebate!
It has been one year since I joined my gym, and I am loving it! I am going regularly three or four times a week, and it has been fun to find out, how getting fit helps my piano playing.
I got started because I wanted to get more energy and endurance for my travels. During this past year I have found a number of unexpected and piano related benefits worth sharing. They range from better performance focus to less jet lag.
Here are 10 of my favorite fitness benefits for pianists:
1. Better focus and mental strength
Focus and mental strength are huge for performers. With a piano performance usually lasting anywhere from forty five minutes to two hours, keeping focused is key for a successful concert. I also rely on top levels of focus and mental power in my prep and practice sessions. So this one is a key benefit.
2. Less fatigue
Fatigue can be a debilitating factor. Touring, traveling between time zones and constant change in location can be draining especially towards the end of a concert season. Having some extra reserves of energy is a bonus.
3. Greater emotional balance
Music is a an art form, and art deals with emotions. Not only do we deal with emotional material, but we also have to perform using our own emotions. Getting a more balanced emotional outlook is another hugely stabilizing factor of going to the gym regularly.
4. Core strength
Core strength is often overlooked by pianists. We sit at an instrument, but create lots of our movements from the center of our body. The more core strength we have, the freer and faster our hands will feel. The core of our body is also the source of our piano playing power. This is such a completely unexpected benefit.
5. Arm strength
More obvious than the use of the core is how much pianists use their arms. Watching a pianist perform, we see a lot of arm movements. Lots of playing power actually comes from the use of the arm. Added strength is a wonderful asset here.
6. Less Jet Lag
Jet lag is part of many musicians lives, and we all have our ways of dealing with it and of performing with it. There is no way to get around the tricky side effects of jet lag, but an increased level of fitness makes it a much quicker process to get acclimated in a new location. A quick workout after arriving in a new place makes adjusting to a new time zone a lot easier. I recently tried it with a whopping 13 hour time difference, and it really worked!
7. Better sleep
Having a good night’s sleep before a big concert is one of the most important things for me. Sometimes the mix of a different bed, a new city, unfamiliar food, a late rehearsal and some pre-concert worries can make sleep difficult. The natural tiredness after a good workout makes a huge difference when it is time to turn the lights off.
8. Getting around the keyboard
Skips, octave jumps, left hand passages and arpeggios are just a few things that make us pianists move around the keyboard. There is quite a bit of athleticism in playing the piano, so it is no wonder that a regular gym routine helps with getting around the keyboard more easily.
9. Better body self-image
Playing a concert also means to appear on a stage, to walk and perform confidently in front of hundreds or even thousands of people. Fitness helps increase one’s body self-image, an added benefit for a performer - and so worth it.
10. Swimming with music
This one is my absolute favorite, so much so that I wrote a blog about it including great ideas for a swimming playlist. I learn so much music when I do my laps. I love preparing my concerts listening whilst swimming. It is not only sublime, but there is a physical connection to the music much like dancing, that opens up entirely new views of a piece. This one completely sold me to fitness! I love it every time.
I hope you feel inspired to give fitness a try. It has made a huge difference for me!