Can boxing help improve musicianship?

Posted on: December 7, 2011

In Saturday’s (12/3) Wall Street Journal, Scott Cacciola writes, “At the Eastman School of Music, students toil away in classrooms and concert halls hoping to one day join music royalty like Yo-Yo Ma and Renée Fleming. On a recent Saturday, however, a group of them filed into an industrial building with much different goals. … Here at ROC Boxing & Fitness Center, a no-frills gym, about 20 music students are subjects of an experiment by Eastman professor James VanDemark, a double bassist who believes boxing breeds better musicians. To test that theory, students are spending about an hour a week this semester with longtime trainer Dom Arioli, who has them work the heavy bag, hone their jabs and bang out push-ups. … The Eastman students say the benefits are manifold, ranging from improved posture and cardiovascular fitness—which help them produce bigger, more precise sounds as musicians—to stress relief. … Mr. VanDemark, 59, took up boxing two years ago. … He said the sport hinges on rhythm—the one-two combinations, the steady breathing and even the speed bag, which boxers punch in triplets. ‘Ba-da-dah! Ba-da-dah!’ he explained. It became clear to him that boxing and music intersect. ‘It’s all about muscle coordination and rhythm,’ he said.”


Posted December 7, 2011