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 30-Year Gap
Author: Stacie S. 
Date:   2018-12-28 22:59

I am new to this board, but here is a little info about myself (sorry it's so long): I started playing clarinet in 6th grade (1980-1981) and played for 4 years in school. I was at a level where I beat out a senior for first chair when I was a freshman in high school, which shocked me because I thought for sure I would get 2nd or even 3rd clarinet. I quit band when we moved and I changed schools because it just wasn't cool to be in band at the new school. However, I continued to play/practice on my own for 6 more years (bought sheet music and made sure to keep my clarinet in perfect condition during that time). I had to sell my beloved clarinet when I was 20 due to financial reasons.

Now, less than a year before my 50th birthday, I have taken up playing again. It has only been a week, but I was lucky enough to have a neighbor loan me their daughter's Selmer (cannot remember the model # off the top of my head right now). I bought reeds (2.5 and 3.0) and a book to help me remember how to read sheet music and that contains a fingering chart. My husband told me that I wasn't too bad after having not played for 30 years, minus the squawks/squeaks at first. I will say, I still hate/despise the higher notes, as I always had.

My problem is, I broke the bone below my right little finger (the metacarpal) when I was 20. Well, it didn't heal straight, and my little finger turns in a bit (making a fist, the little finger goes under the ring finger a bit instead of directly next to it). I have found this to make hitting the lower keys a bit difficult. I know the left little finger keys do the same thing (minus one of the right ones). Anyone able to play without any problems after a hand injury? I also found that my hands were killing me after practicing for about 2 hours the other night. That may just be age (arthritis runs in my family, but I don't really have any symptoms of that right now).

Other than that, I have set a goal for myself to get to where I can audition for the local concert band. I have not set a time-frame because I can't practice every single night after I get home from work, but I would like to do that within a year (which may be a little aggressive). I also plan to buy my own clarinet once I get to where I know for sure I'm going to stick with it (looking at the Yamaha YCL-550AL as my first choice, but not sure I can afford that).



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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: monnarush 
Date:   2018-12-29 02:42

Welcome :)

I also played 4 years in school and then a long gap and just picked up playing a clarinet again, I am 56 and I do have arthritis and had to take a break till I get my hands calmed down. I started back in January of this year, and I bought a Ridenour hard rubber clarinet. I love it so far, very nice and good workmanship and the sound is fine for me. I have no asperations to do anything beyond playing for my own enjoyment and I love to always learn and improve. Good luck hope the hand gets better!

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-12-29 03:09

A couple of thoughts:

> It has only been a week, but I was lucky enough
> to have a neighbor loan me their daughter's Selmer (cannot
> remember the model # off the top of my head right now).
< <snip> I also found that my
> hands were killing me after practicing for about 2 hours the
> other night.

A 2 hour practice session within your first week of playing? You're going to add a repetitive stress injury to whatever else you have going on. Even with healthy, younger hands and wrists, that would be a lot of playing time right away. Whatever else you do, back off the time and build your muscles and tendons up a little more slowly. Break your playing up into shorter sessions.

> My problem is, I broke the bone below my right little finger
> (the metacarpal) when I was 20. Well, it didn't heal straight,
> and my little finger turns in a bit (making a fist, the little
> finger goes under the ring finger a bit instead of directly
> next to it). I have found this to make hitting the lower keys
> a bit difficult. I know the left little finger keys do the
> same thing (minus one of the right ones).

Once you have your own clarinet, you could work with a skilled tech to modify the keys to accommodate your RH pinky better. The possibilities really depend on how difficult it is for you reach each of the individual keys. If you can get to one or even two of them, you might be able to have the other touch pieces moved or extended. If there's no arrangement of the RH pinky keys that you can get around comfortably, you can have an Ab/Eb key added on the left (some clarinets come with them). It will be awkward trying to get around to all four keys with only the left hand, but I imagine it's possible if you work at it.

Karl

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: RKing 
Date:   2018-12-30 00:10

First of all, welcome back to music!

I agree with Karl, a two-hour session is too much in your first or second week back. Scale back to multiple short sessions (20-30 minutes) and give yourself plenty of recovery time in between.

I am sorry to hear about your right hand. I suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and had that operation a few years ago. I also have arthritis in my right thumb and I am probably going to need some work done on that in 2019. It's tough to get old, but it beats the alternative. :-)

If you were that good in high school, I doubt it will take you a year to get back into the groove. Many community bands do not require auditions and if you can find one in your area you can join it and actually play your way into shape.

Cheers,

Ron

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2018-12-30 09:46

Perhaps a neck strap would alleviate some of the pain. I use one at our 2+ hour rehearsals, though not at the concerts we play. You probably could make a home made one and save on buying one.
Funny, I was a Band Director doing a clarinet clinic about 20 years ago when I got the idea when noticing one of the students wearing one.

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/
austinmacauley.com (PDF samples here)


Post Edited (2018-12-30 09:47)

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: CrypticFat 
Date:   2019-01-14 06:21

I feel your pain! Two months before taking a diploma recital I lost a finger! Luckily it was reattached, two years of therapy later and I could start playing again, now seven years after that and I'm roughly the standard I was, maybe a little better. I would encourage being much more gentle with yourself than you would want to, all the muscle memory is still there but you'll have to build your strength up and get used to maybe compensating for that little pinky that keeps wandering!

For the pain, that's a clarinettists nightmare, I've been developing arthritis for a few years, keeping it at bay with playing to exercise. I suggest breaks during practice sessions plus long hot baths to help your whole body relax (hands aren't the only thing doing the work!).

Max

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2019-01-14 09:24

The other thing that you might try is an Albert clarinet. It has a simpler job for the right-hand pinky, and larger keys...the nicer ones also have rollers to slide between the Ab/Eb and C key in the right hand.

The "Vintage Clarinet Doctor" (search on these words) often has the best collection of Albert clarinets for sale at reasonable prices that I know of and they are all freshly overhauled.

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: jack 
Date:   2019-01-14 10:44

Think about getting a closed hole plateau (holes closed by pads like bass clarinet) clarinet. So doesn't matter about precise finger placement on the six holes normally closed by fingers.

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-01-14 11:35

I had finger placement problems when I had carpal tunnel syndrome. I solved the problem with a plateau clarinet. As has been said, they don't need such precise finger placement, just dab your finger roughly where you think the keys are and it all comes out right in the end.

Tony F.

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 Re: 30-Year Gap
Author: Burt 
Date:   2019-01-15 02:50

Some clarinets, including the Ridenour 576BE, have a left-hand Ab-Eb key. It should also be possible to get a tech to extend the right-hand Ab-Eb and F#-C# keys toward the top of the clarinet.

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