Musicians and exercise: Can a keep fit regime make you a better string player?

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Violinist, researcher and consultant Berenice Beverley Zammit explains how physical exercise and simulation of the live concert environment can help string players and other musicians perform more efficiently under pressure

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I have always loved sport. But I was always told to stay away from activities that involve using my hands. ‘Choose whichever sport you like as long as it’s just your legs you need to use. You can’t afford to injure your wrist or break a finger or get tennis elbow, can you?’ my violin teacher said. And I agreed, taking a certain pride in having to refuse to play some of the sports I loved best. After all, I was to become a violinist and I couldn’t afford to get injured. And wasn’t one meant to suffer for one’s art?

But some 30 years ago, sport and physical fitness were not given the importance they are assigned today. Unless you were a professional sportsperson, exercise was considered an activity you engaged in only if you had time to spare. And if you were a musician, it was a truth universally acknowledged that any performer who engaged in physical exercise was a rare breed indeed. After all, one did not need to be physically fit to perform…

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