The students of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y., learn more than just music. In groups, they are asked to attend classes of a highly different nature. Classes that test and train them physically, and teach them the basic skills of boxing.
While it’s perfectly understandable that a musician may enjoy a little physical exercise, fitness is not a priority for these students. They have taken up boxing to improve their music skills. It all started when their professor, James VanDenmark, took up the sport himself. The world renowned double bass soloist says the classes had a remarkable difference upon his skills on the instrument. He reports better bow control, more confidence, stamina and energy. Intrigued, VanDenmark began to send a few of his female students to learn boxing, along with some conditioning and strength building. When they displayed the same results, he made this a regular feature with all his students. He now sends them in groups to Rochester gym ROC Boxing & Fitness to learn boxing basics and practice strength training. The students, he says, are now able to produce a bigger and more focused sound from the big instrument.
James VanDemark, Facebook / FaceMePLS, Flickr
According to VanDenmark, Boxing is the most rhythmic of sports, and many of the basic gestures of boxing have an immediate relationship to string playing. Since punching involves a very rhythmic use of the hands and arms, the effect is immediate. The speed bag used in boxing improves internal rhythm and hand-eye coordination. He says that since boxing provides upper body strength, leg strength and also a cardiovascular workout, there is a huge improvement in playing a large upright brass. The students seem happy too. Danny Ziemann, a 21-year-old senior, says, “I love having this one hour where I don’t have to worry about anything except punching stuff.”
Who would have thought that playing a violent sport and a music instrument could be linked? Looks like professional boxers have a new hobby awaiting them post retirement!