Training to Perform: what athletes can learn from musicians

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Last night I was driving up to Sydney and listened to Amy Dickson’s arrangement for soprano saxophone of Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto. Her performance reminded me of a point made by Emma Ayres in her program about Amy’s practicing routines for circular breathing and her interview with Amy (11 September 2009).

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This NZ news item described Amy’s creative achievements:  Transcribing it (Philip Glass’ 1987 Violin Concerto) meant converting the soloist’s double-stopping into arpeggios, although there are “no more than 10 bars to do in the whole concerto”, she told the New Zealand Herald. “The most important thing was those endless notes that go on and on,” she says. “Which meant I had to learn circular breathing so I didn’t leave any of them out.” The result, said Herald reviewer William Dart, was that Dickson blended cunningly into the orchestra around her “creating the illusory textures ideal for minimalist music”.

This is the kind of dedication to which athletes aspire and coaches laud.

Elaine Page has some great observations about performance in her conversation with Margaret Throsby. I particularly liked her discussion of a performer’s access to video and the use that can be made of video.

Both musicians highlighted for me that our discussions of performance in sport and the evolution of a language about performance must be located in the performing arts.

The narratives we use for performance has been an interest of mine for since my time at Dartington College of Arts in the late 1980s.

Photo sources:

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Amy Dickson Twitter

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