Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

I started rock climbing 4 years ago. What an awesome sport! I now train 3 or 4 times a week when I am in the mood. I also play fiddle everyday. Now, sometimes I have my fiddle at the climbing gym and so people ask me to play after I just climb for 3 or 4 hours. Hirshhhhhhh! Do I answer. It is so hard to pull out a tune with no warm up and fingers that do not bend… But I do it (not always) and they are happy.

Other times, I go climbing before band practice and I found that after a bit of warm up (let say 15-20 min), the fingers find their way around the neck and get flexibility back as you play. However, the muscles in the right forearm are tired and it is sometimes painful to keep a fast beat for a long time.

Along the years I played fiddle, I never stop myself from doing something else I like because I play fiddle. (Well, I will not go climbing before a concert (gig); this is just respect for the public and the other musicians) But I saw and heard so many times musician who stop themselves from doing things because it “hurts their little hands” & “break their finger nails”. Most of the time, they are not even professional. Here are some examples from thesession.org where people seem to say that climbing interferes with fiddling:

https://thesession.org/discussions/4088#comment83361

https://thesession.org/discussions/891#comment13207

https://thesession.org/discussions/7997#comment171368

https://thesession.org/discussions/2597#comment50724

https://thesession.org/discussions/891#comment13221

Please, do not refrain yourself to do what you like (maybe the hand thing is just an excuse) because of your little hands. Of course, I am no professional and my job is not threatened if I hurt my hand seriously to the point where I cannot play anymore.

Cheers!

Re: Climbing & Fiddling " My poor little hands"

I hiked 17.5 miles on Saturday. My big toes are still throbbing from my boots crushing them on the downhill sections. Thankfully it doesn’t interfere with my flute playing ha ha!

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Fiddlers don’t climb because it breaks their fingernails? Huh? Most of the fiddlers I know keep their nails trimmed to the quick.

I’m not a climber, but I do wheel-thrown pottery, and between fiddling and throwing, my left hand is one big callus. I genreally avoid particularly gritty clays, because they scrape up my hands, and I use more hand lotion than I otherwise would, but other than that I haven’t found that pottery has *physically* harmed my hands in such a way as to affect my playing or vice versa. In fact, right-handed potters tend to have rather strong left hands, which can only help my fiddling. Mentally, though, combining my two hobbies is a different story: pottery and fiddle require me to do the exact opposite things with my hands. Fiddlers need to keep their arms and wrists loose, while any capable potter will keep their body compact so that they’re drawing strength from their upper bodies, not just their wrists, hands, or even arms. Took me awhile before my brain was able to determine effortlessly whether I was handling a musical instrument or clay at any given time.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

I used to climb - and I agree, it’s a brilliant sport. I stopped because my circumstances changed - ie my day job got more dangerous than climbing - I became a cycle courier in Central London for a few years!…anyway things changed. But one of the other reasons it petered out for me as a sport was the same as what you say - your fingers do stiffen up.
As you put more stress on your fingers not only do the muscles get very strong, but all the connective tissue - tendons and gristle - also responds to stress by thickening. Also your bones - bone tissue remodels in response to stress.
However, that said, I have met one or two musicians who still climb and they say the climbing has no effect. So take your pick! - I prefer to play safe these days and just do running and cycling…oh, and my first triathlon for about twenty years recently!

Climbing & Fiddling "incredible digits"

The hand is an amazing thing.
I applaud you for encouraging everyone to continue doing the things they enjoy. However, of all the musicians it is the fiddlers who give hand therapists their greatest challenge.
Please try to keep things in perspective. Take care & enjoy each!

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Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

I’d add in the concert pianist; the hand and arm movements are even more complex than those of a violinist. An apparently insignificant injury could easily wreck a pianist’s career, at least temporarily.

The pianist Alan Schiller in his early days drove many hundreds of miles a week in the UK scratching a living giving concerts and recitals in church halls and the like up and down the country - until a BBC documentary compared his working life with that of Henryk Szeryng, an international violinist who travelled on a diplomatic passport, and then Alan Schiller’s career took off like a rocket.

Anyway, as I was about to say, Alan Schiller’s major concern in those days was the possibility of his car breaking down or getting a puncture miles from any assistance. There was a real worry that dealing with such things on his own could cause an injury or sprain that could cancel his performances for weeks.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Reminds me of an old joke:

What’s the difference between a GP and a surgeon?

The GP will stick out his hand to keep the elevator doors from closing.

On a serious note, I have a rare bone disease that causes osteoarthritis at an early age. You can fiddle with imperfect hands, as long as the range of motion is there and the pain isn’t too severe. Most hand injuries will only take you out of action temporarily at worst anyway.

As long as you don’t overdo things, a hand injury won’t kill your fiddling. You don’t have to keep your hands in a glass case to protect your fiddling.

Enjoy your hands, use them, for fiddling or otherwise. Eventually they—and you—will be gone anyway.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

I used to go rock climbing. My hands were fine unless they slipped along the rock or grabbed onto an edge the wrong way—-got a few nasty cuts that way.

No way would I do that now. I don’t even like to cook any more because I don’t want knives near my fingers. Just the idea of it is chilling.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

i was a butcher for 2 years and a cook/rock climber last summer. some close calls but nothing permanent

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

In the paper “La musique traditionelle pour violon, Jean Carignan” published by the national museum of man in 1981, Carmel Bégin cite an interview where Carignan says that being “cordonnier”(shoe maker/repairman) is hard on his hands… Joseph Allard was a fisherman (http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0000051) so I suppose it was hard on the hands too. And they are both influents fiddlers in eastern Canada and more.

I played with base and guitar players that had lost part of one or more fingers. They still playing for the love of it and were good. I also saw a guy playing bluegrass guitar and his picking arm stop at his elbow. Not bad at all… I heard some professional players insure their hands.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

TD&M, it was mainly guitarists that I heard complaining about fingernails.

Good luck for your marathon KML, are you going to go dancing after?

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Incredible "Digits", from the latin digita meaning fingers! I like it. But I think I fairly "keep things in perspective"?!?

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Willie Taylor, Northumbrian shepherd and fiddler, re-learnt how to play after losing the first finger of his left hand. Damien Barber lost a finger trying to deal with a car break-down late at night. Sh*t happens. But why the patronising expression ‘because of your little hands’. If someone chooses to protect their hands because music is more important to them than anything else, is that a reason to sneer?

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Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Oh, I’m not going to do a marathon, Carabus. At least not for a while! I just mentioned I DID do a triathlon earlier this year. I’ll shut up about it now as I boasted enough about it on here at the time!

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Climbing, Wood carving, Judo, and still playing the flute after all these years. Though right after a hard session at the wall I’d have problems playing anything requiring fast fingers. The training sessions at the climbing wall always seem to be more strenuous than the real rock outside for some reason.

Spiritually I find Climbing and Music a great combination too.

And although I have had a lot of cuts on my fingers they are all still there (touch wood) and in recent years I’ve taken to doing the woodcarving with a kevlar glove on the non-knife holding hand.

And Hamish Moore retaught himself to play the pipes after a neural disease paralysed one of his fingers - now he plays with his left little finger and leaves one of the other fingers of his left hand hanging out of the way. I don’t know all the details of this though. And I have seen a Boehm flute modified for someone missing a couple of joints on one finger (basically extending the key so that the stump could close the hole.)

I would have problems playing the flute if my toes hurt though 🙂

Where there is a will…

Chris

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Is your favourite tune "The kid on the mountain"?

Coat!

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Hi Daniel - I also have the butcher’s chain mail glove (advantage is that it can be sterilised much more easily than the kevlar), but it is rather hard to grip the piece of wood being worked on - hence the kevlar gloves. I can’t get through them with serious attacks using my best kitchen knives and other tools (without my hand in them!) so I guess they’ll be ok. A very narrow point could get through - but it could also get through the chain mail variants too. (I like my tools too much to test the chain mail gloves!)

I am most likely to damage myself when I forget to use either of them… Or using the dremel to adjust flute holes…

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Oh! And don’t forget, everyone, that carpal tunnel syndrome is also a classic climbing affliction - heed the early signs! Still not a reason not to do it though…

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Hand Me Down the Tackle might be another fave tune……


Cab for Mackay!

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Well, it’s all a matter of priorities, innit? I go to great lengths to take care of the nails on my right hand and to keep both hands safe and in good health. Being able to play the guitar and fiddle is more important to me than any other physical activity. Except, possibly, eating.

The pernicious thing about strain injury is that it can creep up on you over the years. You think you’re getting away with it, but you might be accumulating physical karma that bites you many years later.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

I respect people who make a choice of being gentle with their hands for musical purpose. Richard Clayderman and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards have both insured their hands (http://www.rediff.com/getahead/2004/dec/07insure.htm). The expression poor little hands refers to obsession, like people who have the phobia of microbes and do not go out of their house. I also met a guitar player who did not want to go planting and used his hands as excuse, and another guitar player that would not play freezbee because of his nails. ITM and other trad music is people music and people should not restrain themselves from doing other fun things. But I have to say I woud be really really really sad not to be able to play fiddle because of sore hands. I need my dose of fiddle…

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

ummmm - "what we used to use for human dissections"………… is there something you would like to add to your bio, KML? I note that you haven’t yet used Sweeney Todd as an I.D.

When I was playing classical guitar, I spent an unhealthy load of energy on trying to protect the fingernails on my right hand. I feel much better now.
I only worry about the fingers on my left hand.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

wow, other people who play the fiddle and climb! Sadly i can’t climb at the moment because the joints in my fingers really ache when i do now, probably from too much crimping. Luckily playing the fiddle doesn’t cause any pain which is good.

I can imagine that playing the fiddle after a hard day on grit would be pretty painful due to the lack of skin left on finger tips. Even so, theres no way i wont be climbing again as soon as my fingers recover. If you start getting to paranoid theres no telling where you’ll end up!

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Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Ps. I’m glad you beat me to that one, Geoff!

Jake

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Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

…… is there something you would like to add to your bio, KML? I note that you haven’t yet used Sweeney Todd as an I.D.

🙂

The bio is only a thin slice. In histopathology and neuropathology labs you get to chop up organs and brains. Not everyone’s cup of tea. Can be interesting, though.

Among the worst tasks I’ve performed was "chuck-out" where you chuck out older (but formalin-fixed) lumps of human kidney, liver, breast or lung (tumours - I kid you not) and so on. This was always on a Monday morning, and I used to have a session the night before so was most often hung over, and feeling rather vomitose.

Ah, those were the days……

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Aaaargh! I’m going to have nightmares about being chased by a grim figure in a hockey mask and steel gloves, brandishing a jagged sharpened flute.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

The classical guitarist Julian Bream was a keen amateur cricketer in his day, but persisted in batting without protective gloves, to the everlasting worry of his manager. Fortunately, he never got injured when playing cricket. However, he broke his arm badly in a car accident in 1984, but eventually recovered and was able to resume his career.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

There was a girl on a sailing trip with me about four years ago that wouldn’t do anything without gloves on because she was afraid that she would mess up her hands and not be able to play music. I noticed that because she wore gloves all the time her hands were so soft that she really would mess them up if she took her goves off. I think that wanting to protect ones hands is fine but taking it to far is probably not a good idea.
I often play music with my friends after we’ve been climbing.

Re: Climbing & Fiddling “ My poor little hands”

Glad to hear from folks who share trad music and climbing passions!!!