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Comparing music to sports: our hosts weigh in, starting with Jean Stilwell

Comparing music to sports: our hosts weigh in, starting with Jean Stilwell featured image

The New Classical FM morning host  and mezzo soprano Jean Stilwell, far right, performing with John Loach, trumpet, and Patti Loach, piano.


On February 7, after the Super Bowl (Feb. 4) and before the Olympic Opening Ceremony in PyeungChang (Feb. 9) sports was on my mind, and the similarities between sports and music. They often have a disparate fan base, but it’s ironic, given how similar they are in terms of training, discipline, commitment, teamwork, and dealing with success or failure. I had posted a while back, on The New Classical FM Facebook page, asking if people were going to tune in to the Super Bowl, and the responses were vitriolic, with great offense taken that I had even posed the question. One response that stood out to me was “No. I have a life.” It made me wonder why sports and music enthusiasts won’t consider the commonalities instead of focus on the obvious differences, which lead to this post, “The Parallels between Sports and Music”.

I decided to chat with some of our own radio hosts, whom are also performers. Today, a few words from Jean Stilwell, mezzo soprano and host of “Classical Mornings” with Mike Duncan, weekdays from 6 AM – 10 AM.

What does music bring to a sporting event?
Music brings energy to a sporting event. Half time shows entertain, keeping the energy flowing and the level of excitement high. Soccer/football fans beat drums and sing tribal songs for the teams. The organ at a hockey game inspires focus and excitement on the ice. It accompanies the intensity of the moment.

It does – the music is such a part of the sporting event, I don’t think people realize it. Musicians are athletes too – they sustain injuries, health issues, combat exhaustion, perform under jet lag …. and you have to get up REALLY early for your on-air shifts. How do you take care of your physical self?
Musicians are athletes too. How I take care of myself? First and foremost, is sleep! Rest is extremely important and restorative especially when you’ve just finished 6 hours of staging. Secondly, I do a lot of walking. I must have “alone time” – no talking or tiring of my voice. Serious work on the foundation i.e., abs and arms, to build a solid frame with which to work and which I can count on. Before singing I do a series of stretches to open my body; to make sure I have access to my entire body. When flying: water and no talking. Diet: moderation, limited dairy, nuts and oats, more protein, no alcohol.

Wow. It’s a regime. Both musicians and athletes have to perform, and reach their peak at the right time. How do you time things so your performances coincide with feeling your best?
I train, I know how much time I have before rehearsals begin, and I know what I have to do to get there.

If you’re interested in the medal standings so far, please visit The Olympics website:

More chats with our hosts in upcoming features. Go, Canada, GO!

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