What does sport have to do with it?

What’s sport got to do with it?

I exercise on a daily basis. I am no professional athlete - I’m a professional singer, though. My body - and psyche - are the tools of my trade and it’s my job to keep them healthy, young, strong and pleasant to look at.

Would you step onto a stage with a broken, dusty, out-of-tune violin? I bet you wouldn’t.

These thoughts slowly but surely prompted me to start exercising some years ago. This is not the end of the story, though.

As you might have read in my bio (….......), through exercising I came across some brilliant trainers who have since instilled in me an all-encompassing mental approach to exercise and motion.

They have introduced me to ideas such as the mental aspect of training, and taught me the importance of goal setting, overcoming one’s limits and most of all planning your effort with intermediate, measurable and concrete goals. It all boils down to a somewhat natural continuous physical and personal enhancement. 

There’s no way this had no role to play in teaching music. 

When describing what I do for a living, I like to use the term Vocal Coachrather than singing teacher. I do realize it might sound a bit exotic to an Italian ear, but bear with me and it’ll make sense to you, too.

Il ,implies so much more than just conveying knowledge. When referring to coaching, we mean the process by which a given person receives help to develop abilities, resources and skills in different areas. A coach is qualified to identify the areas a student/athlete/pupil has the highest growth potential in and to draw up a tailor-made plan for the student/athlete to achieve their professional - or personal- goals.

I bet you too ,  at some point, had a well-intentioned teacher or mentor who, so eager as he or she was to help you improve, took charge of your whole growth process and turned into some kind of overbearing mother.

As good as it may feel to be looked after like that, teachers with this kind of approach tend to lose sight of a vital element:

the student’s self-responsibility..

A lot of old-school teachers struggle with a certain degree of sense of possession towards their students. At times, this feeling turns into creeping jealousy, or ill-concealed fear of being replaced by a new Maestro. A student’s decision to explore new avenues can be perceived as fully-fledged personal betrayal.

Young students thus end upshifting from one teacher’s exclusive club to the next, where they are instilled a new set of unshakeable beliefs with every new teacher they find. 

“Avoid that school, they’ll fuck up your voice!” 

Are we really sure that there are teachers out there who can fuck up somebody’s voice?

I know a lot of people feel like they were talked into potentially harmful practices by their teachers.

Why does that happen, though? What can really damage one’s voice?

No doubt - some instructors really can butcher your voice. Which is why I believe that the key to self-defence lies in

I repeat it loud


If you don’t know what you are doing and why, you’ll be misled by any self-proclaimed guru in no time.

Awareness requires a scientific, knowledge-based and skill-based approach to a given domain.

BEWARE: In their endeavour to broaden their knowledge, very eager learners often risk to bump into random articles or questionable video lessons without really knowing what they are reading/watching or having the tools to fully grasp what they hear. This issue is common to all DIY learning approaches.

How to go about this then?

A coach will have to honestly tell his/her student the unfiltered truth on how things are in reality; he/she will have to convey knowledge and skills and, in doing so, explain and demonstrate the functioning of each mechanism by highlighting cause-effect patterns. Knowledge mustn’t be instilled with a top-down approach and presented as being dogmatic. I rather believe that growth and development are paths to embark on together, and that the learning process must never lose sight of the goal, while still allowing for a change of strategy when needed.

So.... what’s sport got to do with it?

Due to its nature as a very physical, practical and person-centred activity, sport has a long tradition of drawing up customised training plans that pay extreme attention to psychological and emotional aspects as well as team work, team dynamics and shared goals. 

Some of these principles originating in sport were unsurprisingly adopted by the Corporate world as a tool to upgrade its mindset and keep up with an ever-changing business environment.

Last but not least, we can’t help but mention another element we can learn from sport: discipline.

Or rather self-discipline, i.e. the will and compelling need to self-regulate and keep up the training and lifestyle habits, rather than the strict enforcement of top-down rules.
And, by the way, the Ancient Greeks were well aware of this – their  kalokagathía teachings preached a harmonious combination of bodily, moral and spiritual virtues and skills to be honed simultaneously - not separately. Based on this, it should be no surprise to anyone that they ended up inventing the Olympic Games, a tradition that the Romans kept alive with their gymnasia and with the well-known motto mens sana in corpore sano mens sana in corpore sano (no translation needed here!)

[I’ll stick to the origins of Western ancient civilisations only, or else I might end up dwelling on the Samurai for hours on end!]

So sport has got A LOT to do with my job!

It’s got to do with mindset

It’s got to do with self-discipline

It’s got to do with the athletic preparation of a singer’s or musician’s voice

It’s got to do with targeted lesson planning

It’s got to do with overcoming one’s limits and stepping out of your comfort zone ( how cool is that?)

It’s got to do with how great it feels to put in that effort, to get back on your feet after you fall, to have a routine that gives youstability 

It’s got to do with finding yourself on top of a mountain that looked so far to reach from where you started

YES, sport DOES have a lot to do with it!