Does the face in that photo look familiar? According to his website, this man “provided lots of musical excitement when he played the baritone and saxophone in the marching and jazz bands…and was voted head drum major for his senior year.” Welcome to an early phase of the “Legend of Vinsanity.”
In high school, Vince Carter’s accomplishments extended far beyond the music room. He was Florida’s 1995 Basketball Player of the Year, and he was named to the USA Today, Parade and McDonald’s All-America teams. Who’s the band nerd now?
To all you student-athlete/musicians: we know your free time is scarce and you may be burned out. Heck, your friends may be giving you guff about your musical interests. But if you’re flirting with the idea of quitting the band or retiring your instrument, we’re pleading with you: please don’t stop the music.
You may not realize how beneficial playing a musical instrument can be to your athletic performance. Yes, there are advantages beyond the generic “you will learn how to manage your time” or “it will help you become a well-rounded individual.” Just ask Zachary Yuen.
Pianist and NHL prospect Zachary Yuen
A defenseman for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, Yuen is one of the top-rated North American skaters eligible for this year’s NHL Draft. A multi-sport athlete who also played lacrosse and figure skated as a youth, Yuen credits playing the piano for his growth as a hockey player, particularly his ability to focus in high-pressure situations.
Charles Yuen, Zachary’s father, told NHL.com that his son matched the rhythm of a piece of music with the rhythm of a hockey game. “He told us when he was eight years old that the rhythm of the game he learned from the piano,” he said. “He understood the timing—you don’t just go fast all the time, sometimes you have to slow down. [There’s] a rhythm to the game.”
Yuen started playing the piano at age five. At age 13, he earned a diploma from the London College of Music, after passing a pressure-filled exam before a three-judge panel at a concert hall in his hometown of Vancouver, B.C.
Passing the exam gave Yuen a huge boost of confidence, he says. It was a quality Tri-City coach Jim Hiller noticed the first time he saw Yuen on the ice. “He’s got a lot of self-confidence,” Hiller told NHL.com. “We talk about the piano—that probably contributes to that self-confidence to what he’s achieved in a different discipline…There’s not a situation he can’t take head-on.”
If you think Yuen’s story is a one-case scenario involving an obscure junior hockey player from Western Canada, tune your ear to the medley below:
Vince Carter: Played two instruments—the baritone and saxophone—in the marching and jazz bands. Turned down a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla., to play ball for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Drumbeats are the sounds of Revis Island
: The New York Jets shutdown corner has played the drums since the age of 13, and he plans to learn the acoustic guitar and piano. “Everything in the world slows down when I’m playing the drums,” says Revis. “It frees up your mind.”
: The number 3 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft served as the drum captain at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City.
: Picked up the guitar at age four. Played in his father’s touring gospel band, “The Legendary Singing Stars.”
: The New Orleans Hornets power forward played the tuba in fourth grade before transitioning to the drums in high school. Currently plays an electronic drum set.
: The Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher doubles as a guitarist for the cover band, “Covering the Bases.” Has performed with members of Gnarls Barkley.
: “The Admiral” learned how to read music and play the piano as a youngster; and he taught himself how to play the saxophone during his second year in the NBA.
The musical stylings of David Robinson
: At age seven, he sang in his church choir. At eight, he played the clarinet. At nine, he was introduced to the saxophone, which he played through his junior year of high school. Went on to win three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
: A classically-trained guitarist, he released two albums after a 16-year career with the New York Yankees. Studied guitar and composition at State University of New York at Purchase after retirement.
The late smooth-jazz bass guitarist and 12-year NBA veteran called music his “first love.” His coach at the University of Oklahoma changed the team’s Sunday practice schedule to allow Tisdale to play at morning services. Recorded eight albums, including a Billboard No. 1 on the contemporary jazz chart.
Photos: terezowens.com, blogs.bettor.com, nj.com, insidehoops.com