Find some Practice Pals!

by adminKFS on · 1 comment

Just finished a fantastic week at the Celtic Colours International Festival here in Cape Breton. It is always a wonderful time to catch up with musical pals and meet new folks as well.

I was a little nervous for this years’ festival just because I hadn’t performed in a few months due to the repetitive stress injury but I’m happy to say that things were feeling pretty good!¬† However, I was reminded that¬† performing and just playing with other musicians is much needed practice- not just practicing on your own. You’d think at this point in my career I’d take this granted! But I always find myself surprised to see the improvement in my playing and recollection of repertoire after good spells of playing with others.

I did mention this type of practice a while back in another blog but I think its worth reiterating. If you consider yourself a learner, you may feel like you are not ready to play with others. It’s true that you do need to work yourself up to a certain point-but once you have a few tunes under your belt that feel comfortable, it may be time to find some folks to play with. Things don’t have to be perfect.

Playing with other people helps spur the creative process. Things come together in ways you don’t think of. It’s a good opportunity to learn new repertoire. Just hearing the tunes and familiarizing yourself with the repertoire is a great help. It gives you goals to work towards.

So how do you find folks to play with? Start with a local session, fiddle club or group classes. I used to teach a Celtic ensemble at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. After a few months of getting to know each other, the students began to get together regularly on their own to share tunes and ideas and practice what they were learning in class. The improvement was much greater than had they just gotten together for the weekly class and worked on their own. Their confidence soared and it showed in the music.

If none of these organizations are available in your area, the next best thing would be to attend a fiddle camp. There are tons to choose from and you’ll find them running throughout the year. A camp is a fantastic week of immersion through sessions, dances and other activities and you are more than likely to meet life long musical pals.

Fiddling with Injuries (the ongoing series…)

by adminKFS on · 8 comments

Hello everyone! I’ve crawled out from under my blog rock!

Over the past few months, as some of you know, I’ve been dealing with an overuse injury involving my wrist that has caused me to take a break from playing for a few months and has also limited my time at the computer. Regretfully, I’ve had to cancel most of my summer engagements but I’m happy to report that things are getting better I am now back to practicing- slowly but surely. So I thought I’d write a short piece relaying my story – I think we need to talk more about these issues as musicians- awareness is key to prevention.

Originally, I was diagnosed with having mild carpal tunnel syndrome back in April of this year. I did have a little tingling in my thumb, first, and middle fingers of the right hand, especially after typing and playing. But my main complaint was having stiffness in my right hand, and especially in my middle finger. The only thing that would relieve it was warm water and a bit of movement. The specialist I was seeing recommended that use the splint most of the time to keep my wrist neutral – especially at night- and to take Alieve.

The symptoms seem to have coincided with physical therapy I was doing for my shoulders. You may remember a blog that I wrote a while back, “Fiddling with Injuries “, about a chronic shoulder injury that I was dealing with. My pec muscles have grown extremely tight over the years and I noticed that when I tried to stretch them out I was feeling pain in my right wrist rather than a stretch through those muscles. The specialist said that this could be related to with the issues I was having in my wrist but the diagnoses and treatment was still the same. I was referred to another physical therapist who specialized in performing arts.

To make a long story short, over six weeks things seemed to get worse rather than better. The less I moved my wrist the worse the symptoms got. It was an extremely frustrating process – and expensive. I felt that the specialist and the physical therapist were not listening to my symptoms. In my gut I felt but I was not being treated for my actual condition. By the time it came to the faculty concert, at my first camp I could barely move my fingers at all. I knew then I needed an extended break.

Eventually, I found another specialist and therapist that I trust and carpal tunnel syndrome was pretty much ruled out. A program combining acupuncture as well as comprehensive stretching and conditioning seem to be doing the trick. I have a lot of work to do but I am happy that the symptoms are improving.

So through all of this I’ve learned many things can mimic carpal tunnel syndrome. Finding the right help is imperative and there is a lot of help to sort through. It can seem overwhelming to find the right professionals to work with.

So far so good. I’m gearing up for the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton in October. I will keep you posted about my progress through this blog.

Please feel free to share any of your experiences with injuries in the comments section. We can all learn from each other!

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