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Music And The Sweet Science

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Fight night can always seem like a symphony. The orchestrated walk-ins, the controlled chaos in the corner, and the dangerous dance between the two fighters always reminds me of a crazy musical score. Each person is playing his or her part to make something beautiful and memorable. However, this has just been a metaphor in my mind, but there are a good number of musical elements in a boxing gym. The droning sound of the speed bag, the incessant beeping of the round timer, the distinct sound of the jump rope hitting a hard floor, the thudding sound of a glove pounding the heavy bag, all contribute to the usual sounds of a boxing gym.

Apparently, there is a rhythm to boxing, which can help aspiring musicians. In an interesting story by Leo Roth Gannett, Professor James VanDemark of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music is encouraging his students to get into the boxing gym.

"Everything in boxing is taught in rhythm, whether it's jumping rope or using a basic punch like a jab," said the 59-year-old VanDemark, who immediately caught the connection when he stepped into Arioli's gym two years ago.

"In music, you learn basic things like scales and as you get more advanced, so do the rhythmic aspects. In boxing, it comes for a beginner as a mix of basic rhythmic drills and gestures and then if you get better and better and ultimately end up in a ring, it becomes improvisational, like jazz," he said.

The students who take the boxing course have cited both physical and musical benefits including stress relief, stronger fingers, and enhanced cardiovascular capacity. Of course some of these benefits will come from any type of exercise, but I can see the musical characteristics in the sweet science.