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Our 53rd Year

Why Do Music Conductors Live So Long? By Tania Gabrielle French

Did you know orchestra conductors live longer than nearly any other group of people?

It’s true. Many of the famous conductors of the past lived well into their 80s and 90s – Leopold Stokowski, 95, Pablo Casals, 96, Nadia Boulanger, 90, and Arturo Toscanini, 89, to name a few. And they were from a time when the average life expectancy was around 50 years old. There are two main reasons why.

1. Conductors flap their arms around for many hours a day. Upper body exercises are a great cardio-vascular workout because they expand the muscles of the chest and open the lungs. Plus, the movements cause your heart to pump strongly, so blood and nutrients flow to your muscles and organs.

The result – conductors have low blood pressure. Their minds are sharpened because they get more blood circulation to their brains.

2. But there’s one more vital ingredient that explains why conductors enjoy longer and healthier lives. Think about it. Why are they flapping their arms? What’s being generated as a result? A cascade of gorgeous orchestral music. Beautifully arching melodies with superior rejuvenating powers. Intricate harmonies that create new brain cells and higher IQs. Alpha-state inducing rhythms that calm and sustain inner peace.

Day after day conductors repeat this life-enhancing exercise.

Take for example, Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) who made his official conducting debut in 1909. He appeared in public for the last time in 1975 but continued making recordings until June 1977, a few months before his death at the age of 95.

Or, famed conductor Blanche Honnegger Moyse, born in 1909, who died in February of this year at the age of 102. After 40 years as a violinist, she was forced to retire due to a bow-arm ailment and so began conducting. Moyse made her Carnegie Hall debut 20 years later at age 78 and continued to conduct well into her 90’s.

These men and women didn’t necessarily follow the best diets or live simple, stress-free lives, often jetting around the world to share their talents. What they did was lots of upper body exercise coupled with a huge daily dose of positively-charged music, all of which packs a powerful double punch of mental, physical and spiritual health.

Attending live concerts, especially with the greatest orchestras and conductors, will give you a dose of this musical elixir. Music is a trigger. For greatness, for inner peace, for motivation and for joy. Don’t neglect its supreme power to change you.

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If you’re not planning on becoming a conductor any time soon, here’s an excellent longevity booster:

Maestro Exercise

1.Start humming (or put on your favorite music)

2. With the elbows high and out to the side a bit, trace (with your hands) two C’s that are back to back. The elbows are fairly fixed, only the hands and forearms rotate at the elbow. The hands go down and to the outside; then bring them back up along the same path.

3. As you continue this motion, track the perimeter of a large (imaginary) circle with your eyes. The circle is centered around your head. Keep the head facing straight ahead. Rotate only your eyes, alternating clockwise and counterclockwise for variety.

You can do this as slowly (or quickly) as you like, or while lying down.

Now you have the keys to maximizing your chances for having a healthy heart and for preventing chronic conditions that may rob you of your golden years. Go for it!

FromThe Longevity Guide – Why Do Music Conductors Live into Their 90s? by Steven Rochlitz, Ph.D.