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 RSI and muscle memory
Author: Late_returner 
Date:   2019-01-12 00:21

I have been spending much practice time on fast scales and arpeggios and chromatics in order to improve muscle memory , to improve improvising. I'll admit having done this a bit excessively. So I was deliberately repeating over and over fast finger movements in those nasty keys where you realise why the clarinet has so many bits of metal stuck on.

Hours after finishing one day I was hit by a dreadful pain in my right thumb/ inner palm which took hours to clear and caused a 3 week break from playing. Now its largely recovered but I'm aware that it could reoccur( no warning while I played, so how can I know )
I assume this was RSI

I am looking into thumb rest position, considering Kooliman (?). I have been using a Ridenour saddle for years, but hadn't considered that if you don't move the rest higher the saddle makes the low rest even lower, especially increasing the stretch to the low trill for Eb etc.

Anyway my question is .... is there a known problem between doing enough repetitions to get passages into the fingers and RSI?

Any advice would be welcomed, thanks in advance.


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 Re: RSI and muscle memory
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-12 01:17

Ah Repetitive Strain Injury.

Of course the right thumb is complicated by the weight of the horn and how you position your hand. As a rule of thumb (pun intended), you should actively hold the thumb out horizontally while holding the clarinet. And folks like Elsa Ludwig-Verdehr even go as far as advocating a thumb posture where it points slightly up (drawing a line from base of the thumb toward the nail). In these two postures, you engage the muscles of the base of the thumb. This is much better for distributing the weight of the horn through your arm (and the rest of your skeletal system).

I was fully down that wrong path a good twenty years ago (allowing my thumb to sag....point somewhat down toward the floor) and feared that I had carpal tunnel. I had the best success with the large, metal Kooiman (the one that looks like a robot and displaces the weight to the very base of the thumb).

However, I subsequently began using the thumb pointing slightly up (ala Verdehr) and have had normal, non painful playing ever since. It probably took six months or more for the correct holding habit to become second nature (and actually the thumb rest may have to be moved up the horn as a result!).

One other key issue (wow.....another pun) is where your right hand index finger resides relative to the lowest side key. If it is hovers slightly bellow or even just over that last side key.......that is great. If, however, you notice that finger hovering more above the second side key up or higher, you wind up pushing the clarinet with your thumb to reach.....DOWN to the last side key.

I strongly believe that this was ultimately what led to my problem.

......................Paul Aviles

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 Re: RSI and muscle memory
Author: monnarush 
Date:   2019-01-12 15:03

Thanks Paul, I enjoy reading your posts.

I am back again after much pain over the Holidays. I also use the Ridenour saddle for my thumb, in addition to a neck strap (Rico), to take the pressure off my wrists and R. hand. I think it has helped me play longer.

I am glad for your description of the placement of the R. finger & thumb information I will be checking mine today to see if my right finger rides up or sits near the trill keys. I think they are ok going from memory but will check it out.

Thanks very much for your queston Late Returner as it has given me information that I can use to make sure I do the best for my hands and wrists.

Have a wonderful & safe weekend! :)

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 Re: RSI and muscle memory
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2019-01-12 22:04

Take a look at the For Sale pages of this web site. A W.R.I.S.T device is available.

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 Re: RSI and muscle memory
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2019-01-13 04:38

It can be painful. Try resting the clarinet on your knee or between your legs for now. A few people may say the low E/B will be out of tune. Who cares, it's better than not playing! Clarinet playing should be fun. Also try a neck strap.

I've moved my thumb rests on my horns to or about 1 3/4" from the top of the upper joint. It's easy to do, but if you have worries let a repairman drill it. The trick is to use tape on the drill bit, marking the depth you want to go, then no deeper. You don't want to make a mistake and drill a hole all the way through and into the bore. So the tape around the tiny drill bit marks the exact spot to stop. Later you can have that old hole filled by a repairman and no one will ever know.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

Post Edited (2019-01-13 04:40)

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