On game day, a typical professional athlete wakes up from a good night's sleep to eat a hearty breakfast followed by a hot shower. Next he warms up and stretches before meeting with the trainer to get taped up and massaged. The coach gives an opponent run-down and pep talk. The athlete's cross training has consisted of weights, plyometrics, yoga, wind sprints, and distance running. At the end of the day, the athlete warms down, stretches, receives a massage and a hearty meal, and returns home for a good night's sleep.

A typical horn player, however, wakes up on concert day from an OK night's sleep to eat whatever is in the fridge. He probably hasn't had a massage in a year, if ever, and the conductor has not given a pep talk or a com- poser run-down. The musician's cross training regimen ... well, enough said there.

Although musicians are athletes, they do not always properly care for their bodies in the same way athletes do. Here are three items horn players can learn from athletes.

Stretching. One of the things runners do several times a day is stretch. Ironically, most horn players do not spend any time doing this with their lips. Try these three:

  1. Massage the inside of the mouth with the tongue (30 seconds).
  2. Open the mouth as wide as possible, trying to reach the bottom of the chin with your tongue (15 seconds).
  3. In the shower, allow warm water to massage your lips (1 minute).

Efficient Practice! Because musicians use smaller muscle groups than athletes, musicians should divide their practice time into smaller segments. If your goal is to practice three hours a day, try to play two 45-minute sessions in the morning with a 15 minute break, and the same in the evening. Muscles need time to rebuild and rest when use is repetitive; therefore, the downtime in between practice sessions is vital to your chop health.

Visualization. One of the greatest tools that musi- cians can take from athletes is visualization practice. Ath- letes are known for visualizing an entire game from start to finish in their head. Every thought must be positive and successful. A musician can practice in this same manner without ever touching an instrument.
These and other tips from athletes' methods can help horn players maintain their bodies better and longer.

Annie earned a DMA from USC.

Bosler, Annie. "Prepare Like an Athlete." Cornucopia January (2010)

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