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I think that the same is even more true for musicians. Some of our best talent gets seriously hampered because they are not allowed to practice their instrument at all (at least athletes can work out on their missions!
Of course, there are a lot of athletes (and musicians) who have an inflated sense of their skills and their future and who think that they are making a bigger sacrifice than they are.

Musicians with the exception of vocalists and pianists, one might add...

When I was at BYU as a music major (pre-mission), my instructor said that he loved getting his students back, because, while technique had declined, maturity had increased. I've heard the same about athletics. While I believe it, I'm not sure it's a completely level trade. My wife lost a lot in terms of dancing when she went on her mission, and hasn't been able to devote the time she once had to get it back.

Which isn't to knock missions; I loved mine, and was already changing direction from music before I left. But it is incredible to see an athlete (or musician or dancer or anything else that requires intense work plus youth) pull it together after two years of serving the Lord.

jeremy guthrie (born in my hometown) is another great story. he pitches tonight for the orioles against my beloved mariners.

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