Rochester, N.Y. - With every stroke and every chord comes harmony.
“You're always working on technique, you're always focusing on that,” Eastman School of Music student Andrew O’Connor said.
That’s a technique O'Connor has not only developed in a practice room, but on the gym floor with jabs and upper cuts.
“I just find that in general, exercise helps with bass playing,” O’Connor said. “Being a musician, it's a very physical thing in and of itself, especially the bass when you consider the size of the instrument and the strings. There's a bunch of tension where you have to pull the strings down.”
It’s a concept Eastman School of Music double bass professor James VanDemark helped create after he took up boxing two years ago.
“It's similar to music where it requires great technique and enormous amount of discipline,” VanDemark said.
Boxing is now a part of the school's Wellness Initiative for Students at Eastman, also known as “WISE.”
VanDemark says using hand and eye coordination helps his reflexes, making him a better player.
“Reflexes are so critical in music and they're very critical in boxing,” VanDemark said.
For O'Conner, he says it strengthens muscles to help make it through lengthy concerts.
“All those muscles get built up and you do use them when you're playing,” said O’Connor. “Definitely helps the endurance of playing.”
“Everything in boxing is learned in a rhythm and obviously everything in music is learned in a rhythm,” VanDemark said.
That’s what makes this relationship a perfect harmony.
VanDemark says boxing also helps boost confidence on stage.
The training is led by Dominic Arioli, also known as “Coach Dom.”
Arioli has trained Golden Glove fighters and leads one of the few organized high school boxing programs in the country at the Aquinas Institute of Rochester.