Author: kdk ★2017
Date: 2010-06-10 12:01
I have a 7th grade (13? years old) student who has double-jointed thumbs. At a lesson last night she mentioned fatigue in her right thumb. As I watched her play over the next few minutes I realized her thumb position looked contorted - too far under the thumbrest, pointing (being pulled by the weight of the clarinet) markedly downward, rotating slightly inward toward the instrument. I could well imagine the tendons across the top or her thumb were under a great deal of stress, explaining the fatigue. When I asked her to try moving her thumb out so the thumbrest was closer to the nail end of her thumb, she found it difficult to support the instrument that way. As we talked, she told me her thumbs are double-jointed, making it hard it seems for her to keep her thumb straight under the clarinet's weight.
Thumb and hand positions are so individual that I often find it difficult to "correct" odd looking ones and often leave them alone if they don't seem to be interfering with the student's facility. This student's hand is considerably smaller than mine (male and over 60 compared to female and not nearly fully grown). Her wrists and fingers aren't nearly as sturdily built at 13 as they will be when she's reached adulthood, and they will never look like mine, so my hand position is not necessarily a good model for her. I don't have double jointed thumbs, so I have no first-hand experience dealing with them. I've had other double jointed students who found their own accommodations, so I've never really tried to deal with the specific problem before.
This girl doesn't have a noticeable problem with facility, but I'm concerned with her fatigue in the area around the base of her thumb (it was only 30 minutes into a lesson that included a reasonable amount of stopping, starting and discussion) and want to try to help take some of the strain off if I can. We talked about stopping for a couple of minutes' rest when she begins to feel discomfort, and I mentioned using a neck strap, which we'll try next week.
I will try to help find a position for her thumb that allows freedom of movement for the other right hand fingers and also gives her the best leverage in supporting the clarinet, but I wondered what anyone else's experiences have been with this, especially perhaps teachers here who themselves have double jointed thumbs and small hands.
Post Edited (2010-06-10 12:25)