Music and Sports: Perfect Balance?

Music and Sports: Perfect Balance?

Music and Sports: Perfect Balance?

Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata—a powerful piano solo that is respected as one of Beethoven’s most challenging pieces. Imagine for a moment being a skilled pianist announcing an impromptu performance of such a piece. Is this perhaps a little ambitious? Do you feel like you can perform it comfortably, soon? How about right after winning an Olympic gold medal?

French Olympic champion and concert pianist Micheline Ostermeyer did just that. Right after winning gold in shot put at the 1948 London Games, she performed this recital in celebration of her win. Ostermeyer was unique in that she was a professional in music and sport. 

Ostermeyer acknowledges how “the qualities that make a true artist are nearly the same qualities that make a true athlete.” She shared how sports helped relax her and playing piano gave her “a sense of motion and rhythm.” For what seems like two different areas of skill, Ostermeyer has proven that they are more alike than at first glance.

Music & Sport Complement Each Other - Improve One's Lifestyle

Music and sport both offer great skills and benefits that not only improve one’s lifestyle, but they complement each other so that a musician can find benefits from being athletic and an athlete can discover benefits for being musical.

Research supports having musical training can increase physical coordination and motor skill ability, and vice versa, that being an athlete can improve a musician’s skills and performances. 

Key Findings: How Sports Benefits Musical Performance

Below are a few key findings research offers for musicians who are looking to improve their physical abilities to play an instrument, or wanting to strengthen the control of emotion and mental fatigue:

  • Physically active individuals may cope with stress such as performance anxiety, especially post-performance.
  • Exercise has the potential to improve the quality of long-duration performances.
  • Intention-structured practices, such as yoga, can enhance and support posture and reduce musculoskeletal imbalances.
  • Stretching and fine motor exercises can improve range of motion, blood flow, and fine muscle strength to aid in holding and controlling an instrument.
  • Interventions using strength training, specifically endurance strength, are proven beneficial for not only improving muscular strength but also having a positive effect on perceived exertion while playing an instrument.

Key Findings: How Music Benefits Athletic Performance 

Here are example findings on how music benefits athletic performance for athletes seeking an edge in training and competition:

  • Motivational-rated music can improve ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), motivation, and arousal.
  • Music can encourage athletes to work harder during exercise and for extended periods of time towards failure (to failure studies).
  • Since there is a strong response to rhythmical qualities of music, one can improve technique and coordination of their kinetic chain.
  • Stimulative music can influence positive self-talk and “in the zone” (flow state) effects.
  • Music can affect the heart rate by either slightly increasing its rates with stimulative music or slowing its rates with sedative music.

A child growing up with both music education and athletic participation can learn many valuable skills, both cognitive and physical, that lead to a more significant development and success in learning and potentially his or her future career.

Therefore, children should be encouraged to stay active in both music and sport as long as the desire and motivation are prevalent.

As an adult, a combination of music and sport can provide many positive pathways to improving one’s ability and enjoyment in his or her chosen field of work. 

For what seems like two very different worlds of entertainment, music and sport are in fact more related and provide the perfect balance to improve and optimize one’s life.



Alfred Music | Liz Hinley  

February 6, 2018

Source Picture: 

Alfred Music