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 clarinet knob
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2017-12-21 05:04

Playing clarinet up through high school led to developing a thick callus on my right thumb from the pressure of the thumb rest there. The callus was on top of the outer joint of the thumb. Though quite pronounced, it didn't cause any pain or other problems.

Later, I went to work in a local factory and spent some years in the electrical assembly department. I still played clarinet for some of those years. One day the department supervisor came around checking on things and stopped to watch me work for. He was a good guy, outgoing and pretty smart, from a rural background. He noticed my thumb.

"What the heck, Phil," he hollered, "what did you do to your thumb?" I told him what the callus was caused by, and that caused great hilarity on his part (maybe a little more than I was appreciating at the time.) He loudly carried on, "A clarinet knob!, I never heard of such a thing." etc.

Another worker, an old Vermont farmer, was walking by, and the supervisor hollered to him, "Hey Rick, you got a clarinet knob?" The other guy stopped, with zero idea what we were talking about, and drawled, "I dunno, maybe - there's all kinds of stuff out in the barn." Even I thought that was funny.

I stopped playing clarinet for several decades and continued to work at the factory, occupying several different jobs. My "clarinet knob" gradually shrunk and eventually disappeared. About 11 years ago I started playing clarinet again, and I developed another callus on my right thumb, but in a different place. This one's not on the top of the thumb but on the side - the inside side. That's where the thumb rest sits now when I play.

Seems odd that how I hold the clarinet would have changed that way, but I can't even rotate my thumb to where it used to be when the thumb rest sat on top, not and still have my fingers work on top of the instrument.

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