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Doniell Cushman loves to use her teaching experiences to inspire ways to improve music, teaching, and learning.
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Written by Doniell Cushman
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor, or person who holds a degree or position in the medical, scientific or research field. My education has come from my own experiences, so please speak with a medical professional before treating or handling any injury, and follow their advice. Make sure to tell them you (or your student) are a musician, and that this is important to your body's health and maintenance. This may help them determine how to go about your treatment without detriment. None of these statements are endorsed by a medical professional, or by the FDA.
Hand care is of the utmost important to all musicians. Injuries stemming from systematic abuse or from extraneous accidents can endanger the livelihood of a player at any age. Respecting your body and its comforts or limits is something we don't appreciate at a young age. That is why a football injury from high school can mean loss of enjoyment in life20 years later because you might be unable drive your daughter safely or comfortably to her soccer game, or swing her around in your arms, and so on.
Some of the most common injuries are the hardest to treat because healing can be a long process. Blisters, calluses, cuts, broken bones, pulled muscles, bruises, tendonitis, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome are among the most rampant issues we deal with as a musician. And, let's face it. Our hands are often the key to our instrument. So how should we care for them?
At the end of the day, you want your hands to feel good. You don't want to wake up a week from now with an aching pinky because you put all kinds of torque and pressure on your joint when playing. It would take weeks to months to years to heal properly if not caught and cared for. Be aware of how your hands are cared for. Stuff lotion in every possible place. Keep nail trimmers everywhere. Gently exercise and stretch before playing. Treat your body and hands with the respect they deserve.
I'll end with my favorite analogy for my younger students: Does Usain Bolt get up out of bed and run a marathon every morning? Nope. No marathon runner would do this without warming up and stretching. No one in their right mind jumps out of bed straight into a race without throwing on clothes, using the bathroom, washing up, stretching, etc. So, don't just sit down and play or practice. Put some thought into how you want to succeed, and you can accomplish anything.