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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby iiipopes » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:27 am

tubapix wrote:A little off topic but the concert band I play in has 2 elderly people with emphysema. One clarinet and one tenor sax. They are both on oxygen generators. Both doctors recommend they continue playing to keep their lungs as open as possible.

Yes, we have a tenor sax player in the same situation. And, yes, even for me, one of the reasons I came back to brass ten years ago was due to the manifestation of a genetic clotting disorder. My doctor agreed: keeping the vital capacity up as much as possible might help sustain me if I get another clot in my lungs.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby sethbrown » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:51 pm

Back when I was in college, I felt that swimming was beneficial due to breathing being such an important aspect. In addition, it is just a healthy workout in general. I don't have that access to a pool anymore, so i just try to run (helpful, but not quite like swimming).

Though I would lift, I would avoid doing anything that would work on my abs or intercostal rib muscles. Though I'm sure the effect is minimal, I didn't want to do anything that would prevent my lungs from being as efficient as possible!
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby lost » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:58 pm

Intercostal muscles help your chest move to breathe more efficiently. How would developing those impact your playing?
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Leland » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:51 pm

lost wrote:Intercostal muscles help your chest move to breathe more efficiently. How would developing those impact your playing?

Might make you play too loudly. :tuba:

I usually hear, "More tuba, please," only once. :oops:
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Donn » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:00 pm

I took the point about intercostals to be, would want to avoid any sort of "muscle bound" condition, like the guys who can lift prodigious weights but can't scratch their back. If intercostals are underdeveloped for their purpose, breathing more would be something to try.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Lee Stofer » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:28 am

One should not concern themselves with over-developing any muscles, as it relates to wind instrument playing. Even in the days that I was running upwards of 5 miles a day, doing Army PT and going to the gymn 2-4 times a week, I was not able to develop any musculature that impeded free breathing and playing. In fact, it was during this time that an Army Band co-worker commented that he thought I could "jump-start a hot air balloon."

Since retiring from the Army and spending long hours standing at a repair bench with little time for anything else, if I need to get back into playing shape fast, doing several long, slow runs and some stretches during the week helps as much as actual practicing the instrument. If I go to a rehearsal and find myself with an air deficit, going running the next day fixes it and I'm good then. Wind instrument playing is physical, and good tuba playing is REALLY physical, so optimizing the body that God gave you is a really good idea. Getting enough sleep, recreation and a good diet tailored to you is also important.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby southtubist » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:59 pm

Fitness is critical in my opinion. I grew up looking like a whale, and then lost over 100 pounds after being disgusted with myself. After losing that weight I felt so much better- I could breathe better and all that. Most importantly, exercising and eating a healthy diet gave me greater mental clarity. Also, managing your health requires self discipline, which is also required for anything else (like playing tuba).

I started swimming regularly three years ago. At the time I was still playing tuba as a performance major. I noticed a huge improvement in my playing, particularly in being more relaxed. To swim long distances efficiently you must be relaxed- a lot like yoga I guess, but more demanding in a cardio vascular sense. Around the same time I started rock climbing a lot. I ended up looking like a gorilla after a while of that (more into bouldering than long climbs). It didn't make me more tense or "muscle bound", but I did notice that my fingers did better in fast passages. . . However, I wouldn't rock climb if I was a professional piano player. Now I don't climb and I just do triathlon style training. It's more about fun than fitness for me these days.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Tubanomicon » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:27 pm

Some great answers here. Thanks, everyone! :)
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Bill Troiano » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:55 pm

I wish I could still swim for fitness. I did it for around 15 years. Then, I got greedy and started training with some Jones Beach (ocean) lifeguards that I knew from teaching school. I eventually broke down in the shoulders, probably from using swim paddles and opting for speed. I went for physical therapy and chiropractic care. Finally, I opted for rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder. The dr. asshxle who did the surgery found that the damage was more extensive than he thought after looking at MRI's and x-rays. It was supposed to be same day surgery. It turned into an overnighter, followed by extensive rehab. I had basically no cartilage there and he put in pins to hold it together. It never got completely better and I could never throw a ball long distance with my sons again, unless I tried to side arm it. Then, I was supposed to get the right shoulder done and I said fuggedaboddit. In time, it improved and I tried swimming in the LI Sound (north shore of LI). I went easy, but in a short time, I began to experience more shoulder pain, so I just gave up. Enter the Nordic Track ski machine.

In that period of time when I was swimming laps (usually a mile in a 25 meter pool), I felt great. I had to play Pictures once with the LI Symphony and that was during my swimming days. On the day of the concert, I went to the dress rehearsal, and did OK, but I would've liked it to be better. Then, instead of going home between the dress rehearsal and the concert, I went swimming at the Hofstra University pool just across the street from the concert hall - a beautiful 50 meter pool. I swam my mile and then went to a Chinese restaurant just for wonton soup and some light appetizer. Then, I went to the concert. I felt pretty relaxed. Long distance swimming will do that to you, probably like long distance running. I did a good job on Bydlo, but I did crack one of the g#'s. O well.

I would recommend distance swimming in a pool for anyone who can do it. It's great all around exercise.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby pecktime » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:28 pm

Exercise improves everything including mental health.

Human beings have evolved to be active. A 1/2 hour walk every day did wonders for me. Now i run every day.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby sethbrown » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:48 pm

lost wrote:Intercostal muscles help your chest move to breathe more efficiently. How would developing those impact your playing?


I guess when I say that I don't mean the actual intercostals but the muscles on top of the ribs. Again, just getting at I didn't want anything tightening or prohibiting the lungs from being able expand.

Sorry for the confusion; that's my mistake :oops:
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Rick Denney » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:14 pm

This is a tough topic. I've been everything from my current fat self to an Ironman triathlete, and I just don't see much correlation between basic fitness and tuba playing. I do see a high correlation between face time and playing, and given that I work for a living (and travel a lot), I had limited time for things other than work or sleep. Any extended athletic training would therefore necessarily interfere with extended tuba practicing. My tuba playing went down quite a bit during those years. I was spending about 15 hours a week training, including some long session on the weekends (6 hours or so, typically). I just didn't have a large amount of discretionary time left.

Over 16 or 17 years since I did the Ironman, I've steadily expanded dimensionally (well, at least in the horizontal dimension) and musically. The only loss of playing ability I've suffered has been related to so-called benign essential tremor, which has no cardiovascular component.

But it's just impossible to defend being unfit, despite that I am currently unfit (at least by standards of my past).

So, here's what I suggest: One needs enough physical fitness to attain the objective of dying young--when you are at least 95. But there is a difference between fitness that promotes good health and fitness that becomes a compelling and dominating hobby in its own right. Had I continued my endurance-sport training, I'm quite sure that I would be thinner now than I am. But I would have blown out my knees, and my left shoulder, which I toasted doing long-distance swims, would be debilitating instead of just annoying. Neither of those fit with the notion of dying young as late as possible, and many old athletes struggle with the damage their athleticism has caused. There has to be some balance between exercise that promotes fitness and athletic training that causes damage. The machines that eliminate the damage also eliminate the motivation to use them, at least for me.

(I also found that swimming caused sinus problems because of the chlorine.)

For me, maintaining a high state of fitness was too demanding. I never found the balance--how to be just a little fit. I always hated the first three or four miles of a run, though once I got past them everything smoothed out and I started enjoying it. But I just can't stay fit enough to get past 3 or 4 miles without devoting too much of my discretionary time to it. I think I'll end up with a regimen of brisk walks, which I already do often but not regularly enough.

But I think the only effect regaining some fitness will have on my tuba playing is in lengthening the number of years I can do it. I'm not sure I can get that 1 second of sostenuto that Bloke mentioned, but I wouldn't mind getting an extra decade of being able to carry the beast into rehearsals.

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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Bill Troiano » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:47 pm

Rick, you are the master, I mean, the resident genius.

Yes to everything you said. I think my joints are messed up primarily due to having hemochromatosis (iron overload syndrome). I ran track in HS and had ankle issues a lot. Fast forward to my swimming years, and I also had sinus problems related to chlorine. I started using a nose clip when I swam and plugs in my ears. Swimmer's ear isn't fun either - basically an inner ear infection. Then, the swimming messed up my shoulders. Again, I think it's due to my condition with hemochormatosis. Then, I got into the gym thing and had other joint problems from overdoing and /or genetically messed up joints.

I had some time, being that when I was a teacher, I worked basically a 7 hour day (of course, there were long days, and concerts and things). So, I could usually hit the HS pool for an hour before coming home. Now, I'm retired, so I hit the gym the first thing in the morning. If I can't do it early, I won't too it. So, I'm fortunate that I could make some time for fitness stuff. If I had an 8 hr. a day job or longer, I would never have considered fitness.

So, how much is fit and how much is an obsession or even just a hobby. I'm on the border here at times. But yes, I don't think any of it translates to helping tuba playing, other than being more fit should have a positive impact on one's well being which could influence tuba playing. I did mention that I swam a mile 2 hrs. before playing Bydlo, and I felt relaxed and played it pretty well. So, perhaps an hour or 2 before a major performance, a long distance, steady state cardio workout can open up your lungs for a brief period and the endorphins can make you feel nice.

See you in a few weeks, Rick.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby lost » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:15 pm

I don't think anyone doubts "being fit" has a negative effect on playing an instrument and it seems all the comments in this thread support that.

What I did completely disagree with is the idea 'developing muscle' would have any negative effect on tuba playing or any playing for that matter ...which was hinted in the original post.

First, it takes a long commitment and a great diet to build NATURAL muscle. Second, varying degrees of muscle building occur, none of which equal pumped bodybuilding-competitive bodies for what we are talking about here. For someone to think that a moderate regime of strength building will equate to looking like Mr. Olympia and not be able to move from all the muscle seems silly, no?

Stronger abdominal muscles somehow affect your ability to breathe? Everyone has abdominal muscles that are often hidden by abdominal fat, which to me seems more likely to cause a problem than having sculpted and strong abdominal muscles (which also means you have a very low percentage of body fat).

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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Leland » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:21 pm

P90X/X2 "grad", as they say. ---->>

I'm careful with my running, I haven't biked more than sixty miles at a time, and I can only swim good enough to pass swim qual in boot camp. But I like my yoga and pilates as much as I like free weights and pullups. ;)

Oh yeah, I briefly mentioned, "We're tuba players, we already breathe differently from everyone else" --

When I was getting my medical screening prior to shipping to boot camp, the doc — who appeared, let's say, "well-experienced" — had me breathe in and out as he pressed his stethoscope to my chest. I inhaled, and right away, he said, "What instrument do you play?"

:shock: I exhaled, and told him I played tuba. "Ah, I see," he remarked, then went to the next enlistee. I asked him later how he knew, and he said, "For some reason, wind players breathe differently from anyone else. How you guys fill your lungs is a different pattern than how other people do it."
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Uncle Markie » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:40 am

I am now 68 years old, have arthritis in my hips and knees. I fortunately live where I can walk to many places, and once things "loosen up" in the morning I take walks. In the summer months I try to swim in the ocean daily for at least a half an hour (swimming the surf is very different from a pool). My weight goes up in the winter and down in the summer. I recently acquired a kettlebell and have been doing some exercises with that. It helps to keep things moving.

I don't find much of this has an effect on my tuba playing, although exercises helping my shoulders when I'm conducting. (Anyone who has seen my conducting knows I use pretty minimal movements anyway - no wide parabolas in the air from me - ever). Sitting at the computer doing the arranging requires more getting up and stretching than the tuba ever does. The guy who invented working at a desk was trying to do us in.

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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:20 am

I started a physician-supervised weight loss program yesterday after hitting a new high that shocked me into dealing with it. 800 calories a day (for the first week) is not much fun, in case you're wondering! But I am hoping it will make breathing easier and therefore playing as well. We'll see.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Leland » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:14 pm

Michael Bush wrote:I started a physician-supervised weight loss program yesterday after hitting a new high that shocked me into dealing with it. 800 calories a day (for the first week) is not much fun, in case you're wondering! But I am hoping it will make breathing easier and therefore playing as well. We'll see.

800? Wow. At least you're doing it under supervision. Stick with the doc's plan and let us know how it goes.

I never ate less than about 1700-1800 when I was losing the most weight (on workout days, I was eating 2500+), but it was a steady 1.5 to 2 lbs per week. But, I didn't have direct medical supervision, so I couldn't guarantee my own safety with anything more drastic.
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Michael Bush » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:37 pm

Leland wrote:800? Wow. At least you're doing it under supervision. Stick with the doc's plan and let us know how it goes.

I wouldn't be doing it if a doctor wasn't watching, both because it's risky (but the 800 calorie/day phase only lasts a week) and also because I wouldn't have the discipline to. If I did, I wouldn't be this size to begin with!
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Re: Fitness and Tuba

Postby Paul1964 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:42 am

two times a week I am in the swimming pool doing 1 Km freestyle swimming. During swimming you need a good breath control. I also ride a racebike once a week. And playing the Bbb Tuba is also doing exercise
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