Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Musician; Athlete - Any Differences?

When I think of the preparation modes and procedures needed to become the prerequisites before any performance, I think of the parallels between a great athlete and a great performing musician.
Let me cite two examples who come to mind in both pursuits; specifically, Ted Williams and Jascha Heifetz.
Williams, as the baseball world knows, was the last hitter to bat over .400; specifically, .406.
Just think, over four out of every ten times he batted, he got a hit. It seems unlikely that this record may ever be broken. Other greats have gotten within range of that percentile, but have not exceeded that monumental number.
Williams was a true artist, a great thinker about his art. He spent countless hours creating mental designs that were so intimate in imagery, belonging to him only, that they were like compositions. He also wrote two books that I know of dealing with the art of hitting. His entire career, like a musician, evolved about performance at a level no other baseball player has realized.
Heifetz, as the music world knows, was arguably the most gifted violinist of the twentieth century. His performances, many available, fortunately, on video, were at a level that sometimes defied believability.
At his California home, he would walk the fifteen steps from the main house to his practice studio(he actually made a point of specifically noting that it would take fifteen steps; no more, no less, every time he took this daily "walk" before working out on his instrument - this, to me, serves as proof of the sense of discipline that would catapult his day into existence. He would then take his practice violin out of the case. and begin exhaustive exercises he developed to bring his vaunted technique to a level that prepared him to work on his music. Day after day this was his regimen , similar to Ted William's books.
Heifetz was also a highly accomplished ping-pong player as well as a tennis player, and he pursued the same kinds of self disciplinary modes in these sports that made him the best ping-pong player among the musicians of his time! I also have a film of Heifetz at the piano, performing amazingly well.
There are other, however few, examples I may some day write about - enough, for now...

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