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Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother? (Read 9823 times)

Offline thatrandompianist

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Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
« on: September 03, 2012, 06:09:41 PM »
Hey all,

A small 3 years ago I started to learn the piano. Before that I didn't know anything about scales, pedals or sightreading. However I fell in love with it and even though I did not practise too much, I managed to progress decently.
My ambition to just be able to play any piano piece I like without being limited by technique on a large scale and to play the pieces I like for the rest of my life without being limited. I am currently working on the 4th moment musicale of Rachmaninoff and progressing decently (to give an idea about the level).

However, I want to do some physical exercise in the gym. I just want to taste the fruit of a lifestyle where you go everyday or once per 2 days to the gym working on your body. I do not want to be a bodybuilder, but I definitely want to build up some mass.
When I shared my plans with my teacher I got told that exercising is really bad for the piano technique. I was already anticipating that if I would go to the gym, I would have to work on the nuance and on pianissimo musically. However, I did not anticipate that I may have to choose between either one.

The thing I could imagine is that if you do a lot of weightlifting, you would get big fat sausage like fingers, which renders my piano technique. However, it would be downright weird to train my whole body and have noodle arms.

This leads me to my questions:

-Can I combine both lifestyles?
- Are there any ways of exercising your arms without affecting your fingers? (From experience).

I hope that people can help me with this problem with nuanced answers. Answers like "It's either never play piano well or never exercise" sounds too catastrophal. Where is that fine line where any sort of exercising affects my piano technique?


Thanks,

ThatRandomPianist

Offline mikeowski

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Re: Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
«Reply #1 on: September 03, 2012, 06:44:41 PM »
I have worked out pretty much every second to third day (more than every 2 days is useless, see Overtraining) for quite some time (~21/2 - 3 years) now, with some short pauses inbetween. I started even before playing piano, and it didn't affect me in any way.
Even when I'm taking longer breaks (as right now, 2 weeks already, muscles take about 1 week to recover 100% from a hard training), my technique doesn't suddenly improve.
Just for your information, I play for example the Rach 23/5, so I do need at least some level of technique, which, as far as I can tell, is not influenced in a bad way by physical workout.

I think your teacher is just cautious because s/he doesn't really know wheter or not it will affect your playing or not, so s/he just automatically says no. But that's BS.

Also your fingers don't get fatter by working out, they do if you eat too much.
Again, from experience I can say: my fingers didn't get bigger from working out (they were just big to begin with lol) and neither will yours.

So my conclusion:
I don't know what happens when you try to become Arnold Schwarzenegger, but normal workout doesn't do a thing to your piano skills.

tl;dr: Yes.

Offline thatrandompianist

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Re: Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
«Reply #2 on: September 03, 2012, 07:51:55 PM »
Thanks for the encouraging words, Mikeowski. I am getting hope that I can mix them both.

However, I do not find your authority on Rachmaninov's prelude in g minor convincing. It definitely is not an easy piece. The thing is that everything apart from the left hand in the middle section are chords. Whereas the left hand in the middle section does not require too much finger flexibility. The thing I am afraid of loosing when I go to the gym is that finger subtleness/flexibility. Whereas I cannot play scales as fast or pieces like the 4th moment musicale of Rachmaninoff.

I will have further discussion with my piano teacher and a friend who is more or less a bodybuilder and biologist. However, I would love to have more opinions of people. Are there any people who disagree with Mikeowski?


*edit*
If I would go to the gym everyday, I would go for shorter periods of time and possibly alternate musclegroups every second day.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
«Reply #3 on: September 03, 2012, 08:17:51 PM »
So long as you manage your workouts so that flexibility, not strength, is emphasized, you should be reasonably OK.  Be very careful, though, if you do exercises involving strenghthening the  finger muscles: there, you do need strength, some, but you need agility a LOT more.

Might I suggest, instead of body-building and all that nonsense, ... ballet?  Many studios of the more serious sort do have classes for non-dancers and adults.

For the doubting Thomases... the Pittsburgh Steelers (a US football team of some note) has been training with the Pittsburgh Ballet for years.
Ian

Offline quantum

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Re: Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
«Reply #4 on: September 03, 2012, 09:59:31 PM »
Have you heard the pianist Gen Hirano?  He made piano and bodybuilding work for himself.  There used to be many videos on YT of his excellent playing, here is one:
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline j_menz

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Re: Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
«Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 12:19:22 AM »
In my, admittedly now somewhat historical, experience you shouldn't have any problems combining the two at all.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline thatrandompianist

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Re: Can two lifestyles work without affecting eachother?
«Reply #6 on: September 04, 2012, 05:38:05 AM »
to Iansinclair,

I've discussed this topic earlier as well regarding making sure that the fingers doesn't carry any weight. Weight lifting would be useless in other words. However, I heard that pull ups and possibly push ups wont strengthen the fingers. Does any experienced person know what arm exercise does not affect the fingers?

Like I said, I want to work on bodymass, so cardio is a minor option. I would not want to look close to the person in the video, he got for my part a little bit too buffed up. However, I don't look for a full cardio training (condition) and I know that does not affect the fingers at all.


to Quantum,

Lets say I want to be like Schwarzenegger (I do not want that). am sure I would still be able to play piano. The thing wha tI am wondering is that if I am able to play pieces like Chopin's etude in C major and Scherzo in c# minor with good quality.


to j_menz,

Mind to elaborate your own historical experience? What did you manage to play and what do you play now? And how much did/do you train?


Please do not consider all my questions intrusive. I am just very cautious of ruining my piano fun in the future and want as nuanced and unbiased statements. I know that I cannot get that from professional pianists, but just as much as from people who exercise.