Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

My annual struggle with repetitive stress problems. last year the elbow. This year Medial Nerve compression in my right shoulder making the pinkies tingle or go numb. I would hate to have them turn black and fall off. Who would ever have thought the box would be physically challenging.

Both the Old Medically Consultative Saw Bones and Herself have strongly suggested abstinence from the box.

OK. What do I do in my newly created spare time? I might have to talk to Herself for an extended period of time. And if I don’t do resolve this ‘conservatively’, the Good Doctor will find more technically and surgically advanced techniques with which to assault my health insurance plan.

I am thinking about working on my always awful left hand piano technique and studying Jazz theory chord progressions. The other option is to learn to drink pints with my left hand which could lead to a consultation with a liver specialist.

How did anyone else deal with this?

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

No and my sympathies but play the whistle - light and easy, good fun too 🙂

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Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Learn the theremin.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Have you considered going to a sports medicine specialist? They may be able to view just how your mechanics function whilst playing and make recommendations on how to both play and keep your fingers. I feel for you, i have tendon problems that limit me, and I should probably take my own advice. I did do a round of physical therapy and was able to return to playing (although not at the same intensity). I was off for nearly a year.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

It’s really frustrating. Sometimes I can play an hour no issues. Sometimes 2-3 minutes. And you can never tell when it happens.

But the worst is dealing with Herself (probably quite properly) giving me grief for thrashing around in bed.

I am not getting any younger. Time lost is time lost. And I take lost time very seriously.

Thought about Hussar’s suggestion since I am an occasional whistler. Problem there is the bending of the elbow. Creates the tingling also.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

I don’t know anything about this outfit other than they exist in your area. Worth investigating, at any rate. http://www.ric.org/conditions/specialized-services/performing-arts/ The suggestion of a sports medicine specialist is good, too. Unlike ordinary docs, when a musician, athlete or dancer says "It hurts when I do this," the specialist’s first reaction isn’t (or shouldn’t be) "Well then, just don’t do that." This may end up being the best advice, but it shouldn’t be the only option, or at least the first option. Adjustments in technique, posture, seating, or even a different instrument can be useful.

I benefitted from a (now retired) musicians’ medicine specialist at the National Institues of Health many years ago,. They custom built me a brace to use while practicing — the standard ones are at the wrong angle for harps — and I still have it. The brace and some physical therapy allowed me to practice much more; the reduced strain allowed me to perform without the brace and without my hand falling asleep mid-hornpipe. I was not a good candidate for the usual surgery. Oh, yeah … I did have to give up the bodhran, on medical advice.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Actually probably good advice Tracie. I am in Chicago so RIC is right here. That I will check out. Thanks

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

I liked the suggestion to take up the whistle. It’s a worthwhile enterprise and will come easier than you think if you are already adept at something else. Jazz, too, is worth it. Best of luck! I struggled with tendinitis in college; that’s when I played Ravel’s Concerto for the left hand, Scriabin’s Nocturne for the left hand (this is beautiful), Langlais’s Epilogue for pedals alone, etc. etc.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Regarding the bent elbow, maybe you could attach a tube of some description to a whistle to allow you to straighten your arms a bit. Or try a low whistle?

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Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

My partner plays melodeon. Any kind of arm or shoulder problems - usually not caused by the instrument itself - make it impossible to play, and he has had to give up for spells while he fixed problems with the help of an osteopath or a physiotherapist. Like you, he has been unable to bend his arms without discomfort, so , though he also plays bazouki and guitar, he couldn’t play anything really. Sometimes he has been able to play the mandolin, but 18 months ago he bit the bullet and gave up everything for three months and absolute rest except for the prescribed exercises seems to have fixed him. He has changed the straps arrangement on his melodeon, permenantly reduced his use of screwdrivers under pressure, altered the way he steers his canal boat and sworn not to try to kill insects with a swooping movement from the shoulder.

The only instrument I could think of which could be played without any arms was a harmonica in a holder, the way guitarists play them, but he refused to make a spctacle of himself and took up chatting at the bar during sessions, with his pint in his good hand. His liver seems to have survived.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

I’ve taken breaks when life and work get in the way and found myself better off for it. It gives the body and mind a chance to forget the rote muscle memory and relearn and rework the tunes in a more musical way. ymmv… Same goes for learning a new instrument.

Whistles a good cheap ergonomically friendly choice, box seems a bit more physical maybe the concertina would be good too? Only if you stay relaxed, but that goes for every instrument.

Best of luck. I feel your pain

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

I’m a whistler and agree with the suggestions to take it up again, even trying the low whistle can be a good fix.

I had an issue last year with epicondylagia or "tennis elbow." It was pretty bad, and ironically my guitar playing mate also had it horribly in both arms at the same time. His occurred as a result of actually playing racquetball, and mine from an intense two week stint musky fishing. I could barely make a fist or shake hands with my right hand/arm, and guitar playing was really painful. Not sure where your pain is (I’m a RN, btw), but a simple brace for the elbow was a miracle fix for both my friend and I. The physics of it was easy to understand: by placing a strap, or velcro band, around my arm below the elbow, it created an alternate "elbow" below my actual elbow thereby taking the pressure of the joint. The ligament and muscles extending out from the ligament get a reprieve when the brace is on, allowing it all to heal. Low whistle playing was comfortable with the brace on, and in a week I could go back to fishing. The kind of fishing I do in the fall is really hard on my right arm, and I was amazed I could go right back to it so quick.

So, that did the trick. And low whistle playing was most comfortable~ banjo, mandolin, or guitar playing the least, but still doable.

The shoulders are the toughest to relieve, and my wife had a really bad strained right shoulder that took forever to heal even at her young age (29, and we don’t have health insurance, ironically, even though I work for the state). The quickest way to fix a bad shoulder is to immobilize it, which is really hard to do as we use it so much for every movement it seems. Whistle playing puts the shoulder mostly in a fixed position, as opposed to strumming or other motions.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Musky fishing…. That’s a whole body work out. Have not done that since high school back in the Stone Age. Recently the only fishing I did in Lake Michigan yielded more than a share of those awful Gobies. Nasty buggers.

We have been chasing the issue between the elbow and shoulder. Used the elbow brace last year with some success. This year it is the point where the medial nerve tucks under the collarbone which is the point where the edge of the strap sits on top of. The only things working so far that is helping is icing the shoulder blade and inside of the armpit at the shoulder, and not doing much else. I feel like a washed out relief pitcher who thew too many fast balls.

I have been playing piano…left hand pretty much only. not much cross over to Irish there!

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

zippydw, yeah, I gave ‘er hell those two weeks. Was stalking some nice fish I spotted on the little Rib river by our house. Using jerk-baits and my home-made marabou in-line spinners that are nothing but constant pressure on the right arm and elbow. Sucked. At least I caught the fish I was chasing, even though, like always the biggest one got away in a spectacular fashion after it was hooked.

Sounds like you’re finding what works best. Sorry for your pain. I had to really get on my wife to immobilize her shoulder, for her comfort and because I pay the bills at home and a rotator cuff ain’t a cheap fix.;) Baby it, but mostly let it rest and find what you can do in the meantime while it’s healing. Best wishes to you~ hope it heals up good and soon, so you can get back to it! ;)

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

I had to give up all stringed instruments for nearly a year due to tendonitis issues, thought I’d never play them again, sold a lot of my collection. I kept my good banjo and zouk, glad I did, because the tendonitis cleared up and I can play again, but I have to be really careful, even 30 seconds of inattention to ergonomics or pain could easily cost me another year, doesn’t take much to do real damage.

I’ll often take a couple of months off or more from playing a specific instrument just to allow me to clear my head and get some distance from whatever automatic behaviors/habits I’d developed but couldn’t just let go of.

I recently took several months off from playing the pipes, was feeling a bit too much like a player piano when I’d play them, watching myself do the same variations, ornamenting tunes the same way every time, etc. Felt quite unsatisfying even if it might have sounded good to a casual listener or my session buddies. I’d watch myself do this, but felt powerless against my own machinery that would kick into action when playing tunes sets at dance tempos.

Focused on B/C box and concertina during the hiatus, came back to the pipes just a few weeks ago. I feel like I have more space for creativity and more intention rather than automaticity after the break, so it was well worth it.

Of course, what works for me may or may not work for others.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Buy yourself a Low D Hohner Marine Band harmonica and play it left handed (I used to recommend Special 20’s but Hohner has discontinued the Low D in that line). You will be surprised how many tunes you can play on it without any modifications required, and with only a note or two changed, you can play even more (I was just working on Christmas Eve, a G tune, on the way home from work). And you will be exploring another branch of the free reed family!
Best wishes—I know how it feels to temporarily lose your ability to play tunes—not fun.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

That’s handy info AlBrown. I didn’t even know there was such an animal as a low D harmonica. Wanting something deeper I recently considered buying a bass harmonica (you know the ones… with an upstairs and downstairs…., so that it plays like the black and white keys on the piano) but it put me off that you only blow. It’s inevitable that I suck when I play.

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Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Forget trying to learn a different instrument. Us the time to do some serious listening.

Listening is just as important as playing, and if you use the time wisely, by the time you are ready to play again you’ll have a head full of ideas about how you want to change or improve your style. And if you combine a bit of lilting with the listening, you’ll find you know a whole bunch of new tunes too.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Good advice skreech🙂

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Indeed Skreech

Have done alot of that. Frustrating, because I hear something I want to jump into and have to keep from trying to play it. And there is a pretty good chance, it won’t hurt…until 3 am.

Its kind of ironic.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Ok…Whistle it is with piano work on the left hand.

I just worry on piano of getting zapped at the keyboard by a lightning bolt from Heaven when Felix Dolan hears me 🙂

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

The whistle seems to be about the one instrument whose mastery does not demand the human sacrifice of its player, in terms of irremediable deformations and violent hurt to one’s various internal strings.

(It may inflict aural immolation on people the other side of a few walls, but that’s not your problem, unless they become violent.)

I am a whistle player. My airing of dismal fancies surrounding the playing of other instruments is, of course, a cover for faint-hearted lack of enterprise🙂.

On occasions when one or other box of mine was in for repair, I dug out my flute and strove to turn my soft mouth parts back into something resembling 1960s boarding school liver in order to get through tunes on it. The last of these episodes was probably last century.

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

Thanks

Whistle has been the instrument preference

Re: Has anyone had to do an extended hiatus from their instrument? (leave the double entendres for Jeremy)

No theremin? 🙁