How is playing an instrument like exercising? Here’s a hint: it won’t give you big muscles. Apart from building muscle mass, there are many similarities between improving your fitness and playing music. The most obvious is that they are both extremely beneficial, but here are five more similarities you might not have considered.
1) Progress can be slow
It takes lots of time and consistency to develop your skills as an instrumentalist. Just like you can’t become an olympic athlete in a month, or even a year, it takes time to become a proficient player. Patience is key.
2) You have to pace yourself
Anytime you take up a new activity, you have to pace yourself. It’s exciting to start something new, and you may be tempted to push yourself too hard in the beginning. Fight that temptation! It’s important to take it easy and not burn yourself out. Playing for hours a day when you are starting to learn a new instrument is like doing too many reps at the gym. Aside from getting discouraged, you could end up in pain or even injured.
3) Form is important
It’s hard to make progress toward your fitness goals if you’re working out with poor form. Technique is similarly crucial when playing an instrument. Playing with good form helps keep you from getting injured and ensures that you’ll be able to continue progressing without having to backtrack to fix bad habits.
4) You need to follow your trainer
Your music teacher is like your personal trainer: he or she will help you reach your goals. Many students struggle to objectively evaluate their progress, know what to practice next, even know how much they should practice. That’s where a teacher comes in. Like a competent personal trainer, a good teacher knows what students should expect of themselves, how fast they should be progressing and how much they should be practicing. Follow your teacher’s lead–he or she can guide you and help you set realistic expectations.
5) Mix it up
If you are striving for a fit physique and healthy lifestyle, you don’t do just one kind of exercise. The fittest folk know the importance of including variety in their workouts: weight training, cardio, interval training, sports. Playing an instrument is much the same–it’s important to include variety in your practice times. Try including scales, etudes, solo pieces, and duets or chamber music. Are you a classical player? Find a jazz piece you enjoy and master it. Fiddler? Pick a classical piece and learn it well (then audition for a local orchestra). Playing a variety of music and exercises will keep boredom at bay and help you become a well-rounded player.
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