Exercise and music

Is exercise important for musicians? It’s just taking up time that could be spent practicing surely?

I started 2018 with the fun challenge of spending 30 minutes a day doing yoga with the help of YouTube and the excellent Yoga With Tim (www.yogawithtim.com). In my spare time I like to work out at the gym and take part in endurance sports. I find working out and challenging myself helps to balance the lifestyle of late nights, long drives and occasionally over indulging in tour catering or even the band rider!

Last year I raced 3 triathlons and in September completed Ironman Wales which is a 2.6 miles swim, 112 mike cycle and a 26.2 mike run to finish off. I loved the challenge despite the wind and rain of Wales on the day but understandably after 9 months of training and the big day itself I found myself with a few aches and pains afterwards which weren’t helped by then spending a month sleeping on a tour bus. Now I’m 6’3” and the bunks on most busses seem to be about 6’2” so it’s far from ideal especially if you already have very tight legs, back etc from too much triathlon. By the end of the tour and then lots of driving for my December gigs I needed to do something different hence yoga.

All of that may not be relevant to everybody but there is certainly something to learn from it and parallels between exercise and learning bass or guitar. The key to any good practice routine is making it habitual. I have always said to my students that 10 minutes a day is better than 2 hours the night before your lesson. My Ironman training schedule wasn’t actually that different from my practice routine back when I was studying bass for my degree in Jazz back at university. Regular focused sessions every day with some extra long or intense practice when my schedule would allow.

My yoga challenge this January is another great example especially for students who already have busy lives. I’m a total beginner so 30 minutes a day every day was plenty of time to make some big improvements. I feel more relaxed, more flexible and my back is thanking me for remedying some of the damage done by that tour bus!

So if your looking for a challenge to get your bass or guitar playing to the next level how about it? 30 minutes a day for 30, in the words of Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is therefore not an act but a habit.”

And on that note I have two hours of double bass practice to do now in Kew before a guitar lesson in Chiswick and a jazz gig later on in Chelsea.


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