Music and Movement

Amazing athlete and coach Ido Portal recently used my arrangement of Childs Grove in one of his Youtube videos.


I was fortunate to take a number of workshops from Ido recently, focusing on bodyweight strength, movement, and balance. Besides music my other main hobbies are Brazillian Juijitsu(BJJ), and alongside that, strength and conditioning training. I believe a healthy body is important, and getting up and moving is a good opposite from sitting playing guitar for long periods of time.

Though on the surface they seem like very disparate activities I often find alot of similarities between brazillian juijitsu and music. In both things I am trying to accomplish an end goal as effeciently and with as much technique as possible, without muscling or forcing things. Forcing things will only get you so far in the beginning, and will retard progress later down the line.

Both activities involve alot of thinking, critical analysis, and problem solving. You have to step back and look critically at what you are doing. You use drills, technical exercises, and repitition to smooth things out and develope effecient muscle memory. While the learning curve is often quick at first, after a while things slow down and progress is often measured in months and years rather then days and weeks. It becomes more about the journey than the destination.

In both music and BJJ I find I perform the best when I am not worried about the outcome, and just focused on the present. I try to react to the moment, and am not dwelling on what happened two minutes ago or what is going to take place a minute from now.

Kind of like being in the zone.


Anton Emery

Comments 2

  1. Great post!

    Learning to focus on the present is really important, and so difficult for a lot of us. You make me wonder if I'd be a better musician if I'd stuck with the sports I was (gently) forced to play in grade school… Although probably not unless I'd gotten more involved with it.

    How would suggest people work on this?

  2. Thanks William. Yea, I am not sure if folks who play sports make better musicians. I do think one can draw parallels between practicing for the two things, I see music alot like a sport. Though we are just using our two hands, possibly our mouth, and the instrument. One is still building a physical skill, muscle memory, and trying to execute that skill the same time whenever you pick up your instrument.

    As far as focusing on the the present, that is harder. Its rare that I get there myself, when playing guitar. I try to segment my practice sessions, so there is a time when I am being very deliberate, focusing on technique, stopping to correct my mistakes, and really analyze things. But usually after I am warmed up and have done some sort of technique practice I like to give myself some time to just sit and play. Usually its pieces or tunes that I know well or have been playing long enough that they are in muscle memory. I find its with these pieces that I am most often in the "zone" I have to worry less about the physical execution of it and can concentrate solely on making the music. Striving for perfect tone, relaxing in both hands, really making things sing. I think I can do that because the larger issues of where my left hand should be fretting and my right hand should be picking are already taken care of. So its easier to really narrow in on the little things.


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