Klarinet Archive - Posting 000821.txt from 1997/09
From: "L. BORCHERT" <lborcher@-----.Edu>
Subj: Re: Thumbrests & neck straps
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 01:20:08 -0400
If you continue to have problems with your thumb and hand there may be
another factor at work.
Quite often, extreme muscle fatigue or joint/connective tissue
pain is the result of both continued use and, more importantly, tension.
What you seem to be describing Mark, is a condition that could lead to the
"overuse syndromes" such as repetitive type strains and carpal tunnel.
These are really only properly diagnosed by specialists. However,
the symptoms can sometimes be addressed BEFORE they become real and
Holding the clarinet should not be a strain. The position of the
hands, fingers, and body should be done in a manner that is a part of how
we operate physically every day. Without going into great detail, try to
analyze your hand/finger position from a relaxation point of view:
relaxed, naturally curved, poised above the tone holes, and RH thumb in an
supportive and lifting position without muscle tension.
When I met you at the convention this summer, I don't remember you
saying with whom you are studying. That would be a good place to start.
If you are not currently working with someone, you might consider that or
even seeing a specialist who can work with musicians on hand/finger/body
position. I have had good luck with some physical therapists who are also
If the neck strap helps relieve some of that tension on the thumb
joint, then by all means use it. Even resting the bell on your knees can
help during long rehearsals or practice sessions.
The same with the different thumb rests - if it helps keep your
hand relaxed and still support the instrument, then use it. However, this
is very individualized so you should try different ones before investing
much money. You can make your own custom fit thumb rest out of modeling
clay, like some oboists do, and sand it to fit. (You may have to break a
few before settling on a design).
This is not meant to be a complete description of any of these
problems and there is actually quite a lot of detailed information out
there on these types of musician injuries. Most of the info. is in
various medical journals. Good luck and as I often tell my students . . .
"Anything that causes tension is WRONG."
Dr. Laroy Borchert (not M.D.)
Professor of Clarinet
New Mexico State University