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SFCM's Student-Led Clubs Aren't Limited to Just One 'Movement'

Between running, soccer, basketball, and High Fitness, there's no shortage of ways to keep students active in between performances and practicing. SFCM student clubs have grown to a nearly a dozen options.

March 11, 2024 by Alex Heigl

From George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg's tennis matches to Charles Ives' time on the baseball diamond, there's no shortage of classical musicians who stay performance-ready by leading a sporting life. And at SFCM, a number of students have taken that to the next level, creating athletic clubs on campus to rally their fellow students to do the same. 

SFCM student options for clubs have grown to nearly a dozen options from Cinema Club and Recording Club to socially-oriented athletic groups that get musicians active. SFCM's current class of students can also choose to get moving with clubs for basketball, soccer, running and High Fitness (a combination of aerobics and high-intensity interval training). At times, the Conservatory has also featured hiking and yoga clubs, in addition to La Raza, the Black Student Union, the Jewish Student Collective, and Pride Network.

SFCM's Basketball Club

SFCM's Basketball Club in play.

Students range from serious former athletes, like Mumtoz Ochilova (opera), who played for her national junior basketball team in Uzbekistan for four years, while others, like her co-head of the Basketball Club, Isiaiah Diaz (Technology and Applied Composition), didn't pursue the sport as seriously. But they found common ground at SFCM and organized weekly pick-up games, which soon expanded. "The response was way larger than I expected," Diaz says. "A few weeks into recruiting for the club, we already had large groups going to play basketball on our scheduled days. As of now there are 30 people in the basketball group chat and we're looking for more. Hopefully we can get an event going for the end of the year." 

Kate Mayfield

Kate Mayfield.

Yifan Shao (composition) took over Running Club from his friend Yvette Kraft. Although he'd run some cross-country in high school, he says he's "not really a high-level athlete," but still adds that his running time gives him "a steadier performance in nervous situations." As for the response to other students from the club, he jokes, "They were mostly out of breath. But even though the group is tiny, we are pretty mighty."

When Kate Mayfield (violin) arrived at SFCM, she found that there were no instructors in the Bay Area for High Fitness, which she'd been participating in through high school. So she took matters into her own hands and became a certified instructor in the system in 2022 and brought the class to the Conservatory. "I cannot emphasize enough how crucial exercise is for my mental health, especially as a violinist," she says. "High Fitness is such a dependable and consistent mood booster, no matter what else is happening in my life. I wouldn’t be able to manage the stress of living the chaotic life of a musician without High Fitness. It also has helped me work through performance anxiety – whenever I have a big performance or audition I always make sure to do High Fitness earlier the same day so that my heart rate gets up and I release some of the nerves and stress."

Since bringing it to the school, Mayfield and High Fitness have earned a few rave reviews from classmates. "This class has improved my body image and mental health, and has helped me balance my priorities," trombonist Britton Fugazzi says, while opera student Nathan Bryon adds, “This class is hugely beneficial and increasingly popular with students at the school, as it is inclusive, fun, intensive, socially driven, and convenient!”

SFCM's Soccer Club

SFCM's Soccer Club.

"Soccer Club is a great way for SFCM student to run their little hearts out whether they've played soccer before or are complete beginners," the club's organizer Julian Sommer (cello) said.  Either way everyone will get crushed by Vincenzo.  I had never played soccer before coming to SFCM but now I don't feel right if I miss our weekly game."  

Though she doesn't run a club at SFCM, pianist Raquel Fisk bounced back from an over-practicing-related injury to become a fitness influencer in her own right: She partnered with SF gym chain Fitness SF to produce a series of workout videos that focus on how musicians of all stripes can keep in shape while not at their instrument.

Learn more about student and campus life at SFCM.