Thursday, October 09, 2008

How to be an injury-free musician

Well, I'm not a great musician, but one thing that I've noticed among friends who are good musicians is that an awful lot of them spend time in the infirmary for various maladies due to playing, especially carpal tunnel syndrome.

Enter Mr. Richard Dowling, who was recently in Minnesota to play a mini-concert at Crown College while on tour with the Piatagorsky Foundation to interest people in "flyover country" in classical music. It was strange to see a musician of his caliber eagerly presenting his work to an audience of less than fifty people--it was clear that this was a labor of love for him.

Very significantly, my daughters' piano teacher, who had told us of this (free!) opportunity, noticed the man's strength in playing, and asked whether he'd had any injuries. To our surprise, he said no, and explained how he did it; by taking a daily run in Central Park, and by doing an awful lot of walking. In other words, by training his whole body for fitness, he avoided overuse injuries peculiar to piano--and also trained himself to treat playing the piano as an exercise of the entire body, not just the arms. He even demonstrated how doing this led to an improvement in the sound from the instrument.

So if you want to be a great, injury-free musician, take a run. Also, if you get a chance to attend a concert by a Piatagorsky artist, do so. It is well worth your time!

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