Fingers!

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becca and her flute x x
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Fingers!

Post by becca and her flute x x » Wed May 16, 2007 12:43 pm

Hey, ive recently gone to the Doctors about pain I have been experiencing after playing my flute, I have found I can play for about half an hour before thie aching sensation appears in my fingers I can play through it but I am constantly aware of the pain. The doctor suggested I go to an hand specialist ARGH!!

Was wondering if anyone has this or has experienced whats ive (tried) to describe??

Appreciate any comment
Thanx.

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MonikaFL
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Post by MonikaFL » Wed May 16, 2007 5:20 pm

I went through a period of having similar issues... for me, it was a combination of playing on a flute with an in-line G (I have tiny hands and that's a really difficult reach for me) AND just overall tension due to various things such as not holding the flute properly, the flute not being balanced, feeling like I needed to squeeze the keys.

Which hand is having issues? (or both?) Does it start to feel uncomfortable as soon as you start playing and get worse from there? Have you tried holding your flute differently, maybe adjusting the headjoint to do so? (headjoint doesn't *have* to be centered)
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FLflutist
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Post by FLflutist » Wed May 16, 2007 5:49 pm

When practicing, take short breaks... practice for about 20 minutes instead a half hour and take like a 10 minute break in between each 20 minute practice session... that's what I do and I don't experince hand cramps anymore :)

And also what MonikaFL said... Could be because you're holding it wrong or you're not holding it comfortably.

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flautists_r_us
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Post by flautists_r_us » Wed May 16, 2007 6:23 pm

I know this isnt my topic, but would the same go for left shoulder pains?I mean does everyone go through periods of shoulder pain????I usually hold my flute pretty level and my backs up straight, but I get horrible pains in my left shoulder if I play too long. My mother explained about one shoulder getting stretched and the other getting "scrunched", and it made perfect sense...So, *does* everyone go through shoulder pains too.
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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Wed May 16, 2007 6:42 pm

flautists_r_us wrote:I know this isnt my topic, but would the same go for left shoulder pains?I mean does everyone go through periods of shoulder pain????I usually hold my flute pretty level and my backs up straight, but I get horrible pains in my left shoulder if I play too long. My mother explained about one shoulder getting stretched and the other getting "scrunched", and it made perfect sense...So, *does* everyone go through shoulder pains too.
Absolutely not. I have NEVER experienced any pain whatsoever from my playing, and you should not be either. If you're experiencing discomfort, you need to address that with your teacher, and possibly a doctor (if any changes you make don't help). There are many potential causes of pain, but none of them NEED to happen, and there's the potential for lifelong disabilities as a result of improper playing habits.

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woof
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Post by woof » Wed May 16, 2007 7:39 pm

flautists_r_us wrote:I know this isnt my topic, but would the same go for left shoulder pains?I mean does everyone go through periods of shoulder pain????I usually hold my flute pretty level and my backs up straight, but I get horrible pains in my left shoulder if I play too long. My mother explained about one shoulder getting stretched and the other getting "scrunched", and it made perfect sense...So, *does* everyone go through shoulder pains too.
Actually everyone being different and built differently shoulder pain is not all that uncommon and may be from a number of cause from boudy structure to improper stance. I had shoulder pain (not unbearable but still there) for the first few years I played and it occasionally comes back now. I think the suggestion to stop, stretch and rest for a period of time is a great one-it really helped me get through it. I also read of someone who would play lying on their back on the floor-not a position for long term but they claimed it helped their shoulder??? Good luck, take it slow and you will get through it, also have your stance checked to see if there is something that can be corrected.

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flutepicc06
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Post by flutepicc06 » Wed May 16, 2007 8:06 pm

woof wrote: Actually everyone being different and built differently shoulder pain is not all that uncommon and may be from a number of cause from boudy structure to improper stance.
Body structure varies only so much from person to person (seeing that we're all of the same species), and in the vast majority of people (those with relatively normal shoulders), how you're built is not an excuse for pain. For some reason, flutists seem to have come to accept that pain comes with playing the instrument, which simply is not true. A careful awareness of what your body is doing while you play, as well as some preventative exercises (such as stretches) should be able to eliminate pain for the vast majority of players. Of course there will always be a few people out there who literally are built differently due to a congenital defect or some prior accident, and in that case, pain may be understandable, but in most cases, simply excusing pain as normal is not the smart thing to do, IMO.

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MonikaFL
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Post by MonikaFL » Wed May 16, 2007 9:17 pm

I had the shoulder pain thing too, at the same time I was dealing with my hands and wrists... like flutepicc06 said, it really shouldn't be that way. My teacher did wonders helping me learn to stand/play/hold the flute correctly and now, when I feel pain, I know it's because I'm doing something wrong.

Definitely talk to your teacher about something like this, and let him/her guide you through it. You don't want to shorten the amount of time you get to play music (because these problems will catch up with you as you get older, if you ignore them!)
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Post by fluteguy18 » Thu May 17, 2007 8:36 am

I have had issues with both of my hands and resolved all of my problems. You might just be playing in an awkward position. I have noticed that if you play with your head slightly turned to the left, and the music stand you are sharing with the person to your right, is to your right, then it often causes tension in your shoulder, neck, back, arm, and fingers of your left side. However, chances are, are that you need to readjust your hand positioning. This usually happens when players start with bad habits, or start with good habits, but as the player grows into an adult, their hands grow but the flute doesnt.

I highly suggest bringing this up with a teacher, or even a hand specialist. You could go onto John Lunn's flute webpage [he is now an author, but there is a link to his flute stuff on the homepage], and there are MANY articles about hand pains. There is also a list of performance health medical facilities throughout america. I myself only live 1.5 hours away from one, so I will probably take advantage of it this summer.

As for looking in the mirror here is what I suggest you do. Look at your hands. They should be relaxed, and curved naturally. You right hand should NOT be leaning inward. Your fingers should be curved [pinkie included], and from your perspective, your right hand should make a rounded backwards 'C'. Your wrist should not be bent at an angle, but be straight and in a natural position.

Same with your left. Relaxed hand, straight wrist etc. etc. You might want to go to larrykrantz.com and read those articles as well. There are many articles of how you can discreetly modify your flute so that it fits your hands better [ homemade cushions, key extensions etc. etc.]

I also recommend looking into purchasing the book 'Body Mapping For Flutists" you can get it on fluteworld.

I would take this very seriously.

becca and her flute x x
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Fingers..

Post by becca and her flute x x » Thu May 17, 2007 1:10 pm

Thanks for all this advice, I think the practising in smaller chunks is a great idea and im gonna have a go at this. Also thanks for the advice about moving the headjoint etc, im gonna have a go and see if any of this helps.
Also have spoken to my music teacher about this who suggested the "Alexander technique" any ideas?
thanks

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flutepicc06
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Re: Fingers..

Post by flutepicc06 » Thu May 17, 2007 2:35 pm

becca and her flute x x wrote: Also have spoken to my music teacher about this who suggested the "Alexander technique" any ideas?
thanks
Alexander Technique is essentially teaching yourself body awareness, and exercises to be sure you're positioning yourself ergonomically as you play. It's something that should be learned from an AT certified teacher, but could certainly help you figure out the source of your discomfort and eliminate it. I would encourage you to look into it further.

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Post by fluteguy18 » Thu May 17, 2007 4:50 pm

If you are looking into the Alexander Technique, then in addition to flutepicc's advice, I strongly recommend purchasing the book 'Body Mapping for Flutists' by Lea Pearson. Basically, she is certified in the Alexander Technique, and wrote that book applying the A.T. principles to flutists. Very interesting. It is full of excercises, tips, illustrations, and a lot more. It has helped me a lot, and has helped my flute professor a lot as well. I think it costs about $26 on fluteworld, but it is well worth the money considering what you get in return if you apply the excercises correctly.

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sidekicker
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Post by sidekicker » Fri May 18, 2007 5:35 am

Regarding shoulder pain: it is very common, but I agree that there's no reason it can't be corrected by locating the cause. Flutepicc is right on that; pain is not just one of those things in flute playing we must accept as a given. However, everybody is going to have a different "cause" for it.

One thing I noticed was your remark about holding your flute "level". That's not a really natural position to play the flute in and may be a contributing factor to your pain. We learn this in marching bands from directors and section leaders who often insist that flutists have their flutes perfectly level because it looks better on the field. It's not essential, though, and can really be uncomfortable in the long run. Perhaps you could lower your right arm position slightly. I'm not saying you should slouch; just that maybe you could relax a bit to a lower position. Also, pay attention to your left elbow. Some flutists (including myself) tend to jut it out (especially when playing on an in-line G instrument) instead of allowing it to come down to a more natural and comfortable position. Look at yourself in a mirror and see where you are on that. My best guess is that your shoulder pain is a combination of excess tension in your shoulders/arms, poor hand position from trying to "level" the instrument while playing, and maybe not having enough breaks during practicing. Stretching before, during, and after, practice sessions is something everybody should do (as flutepicc suggested).

But I agree with everyone here who has said that it's best to have your teacher first check that your body position is correct. If you are still having problems after that, consider going to a doctor to see if something else is afoot.

Good luck.

SK

ick27
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Post by ick27 » Fri May 18, 2007 11:00 am

The flute can and should be played without pain, but must of of experience some pain or discomfort sometime during playing careers. It's important to be self-aware and to try to understand what causes pain or discomfort when it occurs.

I also recommend Lea Pearson's Body Mapping For Flutists book, but I want to point out that body mapping is different from the Alexander technique. The Alexander technique generally requires a number of lessons with a certified Alexander teacher. This can be hugely beneficial, but expensive, and teachers are usually located only in big cities. Body mapping is a different somatic technique, which explains the actual anatomy of the body. A body map is our conscious or unconscious understanding of how to use our body to achieve a certain goal. If a person doesn't understand the physical structure of his or her body, then they may have an inaccurate body map and won't function as efficiently, often resulting in discomfort or injury.

A major difference between Alexander technique and body mapping is that F. M. Alexander thought the student was incapable of understanding their condition or improving their functioning on their own, while body mapping relies solely on the increased understanding and awareness of the student.

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woof
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Post by woof » Sun May 20, 2007 8:10 am

Body structure varies only so much from person to person (seeing that we're all of the same species), and in the vast majority of people (those with relatively normal shoulders), how you're built is not an excuse for pain. .[/quote]

Not to beat a tired horse here but there is an important point to be made. We should all realize that people are as different structurally and physiologically as they are in the way they look. These difference while seemingly minor are the reasons some of us run faster/slower, think faster/slower and tolerate drugs differently etc- hardly insignificant. Some of those difference mean that some people are more prone to developing pain playing the flute as well and in treating that problem we need to realize that "one size does not fit all". I guess each has to find their own way through their problem-hopefully with the help of a knowledgable teacher. I know a few flutist (not a lot) but all of them I spoke with had pain issues they worked through (including myself). The good news is that with some adjustments those issues can be minimalized.

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