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No Pain, No Gain

When people talk about artists "making sacrifices for their art", they're usually referring to the emotional investment that goes into each painting, photo, sculpture, composition, etc.  The artist puts so much into it, that when the painting sells or the concert is over, the artist loses a little part of himself. Luckily, they get (most of) it back when the next project starts up.

But what about the physical toll music can take on a conductor? 
Today, I get to introduce you to an expert in sports and orthopedic medicine, to tell us about a reality every conductor faces, and how professional athletes have it easy compared to the guy with the baton.

Let's give away some tickets!!

Who doesn't like free concert tickets??  Here's your chance to WIN TWO FREE TICKETS to the April 26 concert in Columbus, AND learn a little bit more about yours truly.  Here we go!!

Q: In 2002, I earned my Bachelor's degree at Illinois State; in 2007, my Masters at Butler University.  Under which two gentlemen did I have the honor of studying at these respective institutions?
How Hard Is It, Really, To Stand Up There And Wave Your Arms?
A couple weeks ago, we talked about how a conductor leads the orchestra as its focal point for artistry and balance. This week, we answer the second most popular question asked of a conductor:

"How hard is it to wave your arms?"

When you think about swinging your arms all around, it seems almost laughable that you could hurt yourself. Heck, if a 3-year old (with enough sugar) could harmlessly do it all day, it can't be that difficult, right? But when you’re conducting for two, sometimes three hours at a time, nonstop, it starts to wear on you.
FACTOIDAccording to my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Gordon Nuber, M.D. – who not only helped me recover from micro-tears in my rotator cuff, but also happens to be the current team physician for the Chicago Bears, and previous team physician for the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Cubs, and Big Ten Conference – the damage done to the rotator cuff of all the college and professional athletes he’s treated is less extensive than in the shoulders of the conductors and hairstylists that have passed through his office during his 30+ year career.

"Conductors are at a higher risk for rotator cuff pathology due to the constant and repetitive overhead motions involved."
- Dr. Gordon Nuber, M.D., NorthShore Orthopaedics
More often than not, the pattern of a conductor’s baton stays consistent throughout a piece: 1-2-3-4 (what conductors often refer to as “floor-door-wall-ceiling”, as in the general direction the baton follows). But rest assured, there are times when things can get pretty hairy. 
Imagine playing a game of hopscotch. The game usually takes the form of 1-1-1-2-1-2-1-END.  Now, extend that same game from 10 feet to a full mile, and add a lot more variables: 1-1-2-1-1-4-1-3-6-2-4-5-1-6-2-7-3-4-3-5 ½(yes, a half)-4-3-7-2-3-3-4-1-6-etc.… you get the idea. To make matters worse, you have to jump this course perfectly every time, as well as be ready to adjust to a different style when the first style you try doesn’t quite communicate your interpretation as well as you'd hoped. Oh, and unlike in hopscotch, there's no looking down at your feet. If you lose track of your place in the music, you’re dead where you stand. I bet that 10ft game is looking a lot better right about now!
Phew! Just thinking about all that is making my shoulders sore. 
Time for some ice!

Andrew J. Lyon
CSO UPDATE:  Last night's rehearsal with the Columbus Symphony went REALLY well! Everyone is enjoying the music I selected, and we're all excited to welcome composer Michael Shelle to next week's rehearsal, to work on his "Exorcism of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and "Rain".   -ajl
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Copyright 2015 © "On The Road To The Podium"  Andrew J. Lyon, Conductor, All rights reserved.

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