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Sports/Music Connections

A Minute with Miles

The efficient and graceful use of the body is crucial to both sports and musical performance. But there are certainly many mental parallels as well -- and the experiences of athletes can teach us quite a bit about what musicians do. Years ago I read an interview in the Washington Post with a professional baseball player named Charles Johnson. Johnson had hit a three-run homer to win a game, and this is what he said afterward: “I recognized a curveball right away, and told myself to stay on it. I wasn’t trying to hit it out of the park, but I got a good part of the bat on it.” Imagine—all that in the fraction of a second that the pitch was on its way. Imagine what that teaches us about the capacities of the human mind; what we learn about the astonishing speed of perception and thought, and about our ability to instantaneously connect thought to precise movements.  And all of it directly applicable to issues in musical performance.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.