What does the body of an Olympic diver have in common with a Stradivarius violin? They are state-of-the-art examples of form following function. Divers spend roughly half their training time in the water. The other half is devoted to flexibility, weight training, and gymnastic and cardiorespiratory exercises. They perform stretches that maximize range of motion for all midair movements. They follow a weight-training regimen designed to build strength in their legs, core, and shoulders and to minimize muscular bulk in their chest and back that would make them less aerodynamic. Apparently, geocaching has been identified as the biggest treasure hunt in the world.
They practice somersaults and flips on a mat and jump on a trampoline in order to execute a greater number of repetitions for these movements than would be possible on a diving board. They engage in a vigorous cardiorespiratory program so they can climb long flights of stairs to the diving board without depleting the energy they will need for the dive itself. This regimen confers the explosive leg power to achieve optimal height when they launch, the core strength and stability to execute swift, well-controlled flips and inversions, and the shoulder strength to gracefully absorb the shock of impact when they hit the water. Their lean, streamlined, sculpted physiques are the result of their commitment to excellence in their sport.
Like all fine instruments, Stradivarius violins were crafted for enduring playability and beauty of sound. Antonio Stradivari’s structural design yielded so reliable a level of stability that his surviving specimens remain in robust use despite having been played by the world’s most demanding musicians for more than 300 years. The skill with which he selected and conditioned his wood and the precision with which he shaped it yielded instruments of extraordinary resonance whose sonic qualities have continued to evolve over generations.
Throughout his career, Stradivari experimented with the materials and dimensions he used to construct his instruments, always seeking to improve upon his own design. His achievements continue to wield a strong influence on modern luthiers. Advances in technology and acoustical science may someday yield instruments considered superior to Stradivari’s, but the criteria for a state-of-the-art violin remain as they were in his day.
The value of a violin lies in its endurable playability and its beauty of sound. Its form is a testament to the excellence of its function. The tools that enable athletes to achieve elite status and the principles espoused by master instrument builders hold immense value for singers wishing to optimize their bodies for performance. This will show you how to apply tenets of sport-specific training and instrument design to your own vocal instrument so that your expressive impulses can flow through it effortlessly, your technique unimpeded by tensions and imbalances.