Biking improves cello playing
A few weeks ago I started biking on an exercise bike for twenty minutes a day- the first time I have ever done any regular exercise – and I’ve been delighted to find that biking has definitely improved the technical side of my cello playing. Perhaps it should be obvious that a job which involves intricate co-ordination is likely to be improved by being physically fitter, but it had never occurred to me, and no teacher or other professional player I have ever met has mentioned this.
Although other forms of exercise may work well, biking seems to be extra good for enhancing co-ordination. Two years ago I went with a friend who has early stage Parkinson’s to a small spa town in Northern Italy where they have developed an exercise programme which can dramatically improve Parkinson’s symptoms; they have discovered that just fifteen minutes biking every day is especially effective.
It’s easy to focus on the artistic and perfectionist sides of playing an instrument and forget that – if you step back a bit emotionally – the cello and piano are large instruments that need quite a lot of physical grappling to get around with ease. Alexander Technique can be very helpful in teaching optimum use of the muscles of the body and encouraging relaxation, but if you find things easier generally you are probably less likely to tense up or over use your muscles om the first place.
I don’t write as an expert in this area, I’m simply passing on my own experience; but it’s been so positive that I am likely to stick to this particular non New Year’s Resolution, even if I don’t stick to any others.