by ALEX STENING
First-year MM French Horn
On May 2nd 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr, will fight Manny Pacquiao in what will be the highest grossing boxing fight in history. Floyd “Money” Mayweather is an undefeated five-division world champion American boxer who is the world’s highest paid athlete. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is an eight-division world champion Filipino boxer who was also a congressman of the Philippines. In boxing, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Anticipating the fight, I can’t help but imagine the superhuman training these two world champion boxers are enduring. Mayweather starts his day well before sunrise jogging through the streets of L.A. in solitude. In the gym, he jump-ropes at blinding speeds, chops an 800lb log of wood with an axe, and uses a strap connecting his head to a weight, lifting it by his neck as his crew chants the mantra “Hard work. Dedication.” Pacquiao also starts his day well before sunrise jogging up a mountain with his team in the Philippines. At the top, he meets vigorous abdominal exercises. Jogging back to the gym, he exercises with resistance bands and a variety of punching bags that contribute to his electric hand speed.
As vastly different as the two boxer’s backgrounds and unique approaches to training are, a trait that makes them the greatest fighters in the world is their ability to focus. They must be extremely present, visualize the punches they wish to execute while anticipating the opponent’s moves like a chess game. 12 rounds 3 minutes each in boxing, and the slightest millisecond slip of focus is enough time to allow the opponent to throw the one punch that ends the match.
In a less violent way, a musician’s mind needs that same intense focus while playing music. We know from experience that the more we think to ourselves while playing “Here comes that darn high note” or “I don’t like BHOP pizzas” or any unrelated thought, the more likely we will be hit by the jabs and uppercuts of our performance.
It’s amazing how much focus it takes to get through an etude or piece without missing one note. I’m just scratching the surface of this fascinating skill; trying to hear and sing every note in the moment as I’m playing. When done correctly, I may gain a burst of energy from my performance, feeling revitalized and satisfied with my efforts. Just like pushing someone on a swing or hitting a punching bag, the more energy you put into it, the more energy comes back.
To learn more about increasing your focus, try looking into Adversity Training adapted by Don Greene and Dr. Noa Kageyama.