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posture etc

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by Scott McC, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Scott McC

    Scott McC

    May 13, 2006
    I read in one of your answers that you suffered from some tendinitis issues. I have also had some problems, but have managed to get through them, though, I find I am now very concious of how I play the bass. I was wondering if you could offer some insight into how you approach your instrument physically. Thanks.

  2. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the question!
    Dealing with an over-usage syndrom is a psycho-physical problem. The main thing that seems to cause it, in my experience with hundreds of students and playing the bass now for 39 years, is stress ... both mental and physical. Mental stress can be manifest physically so the two are so closely linked that one should-not, cannot be separated from the other when trying to solve tension issues. Tension and stress do not have a "good" or "bad" but are likely to be experienced by all of us. How we "deal" with it is important. If one's approach to the instrument is with a lot of negative critique ("I never get that in tune." "I can't ever do spiccato" "I'm a bad player." "My teacher said this is the way it should be done and I suck if I don't do it that way"), that can create undue stress on the mind and the muscles. If one is anxious about getting a job, that can be stressful ... etc. Most of life offers stress and it is how we use the stress to motivate or debilitate us that is important to acknowledge before one can eliviate the tendonitis or other ailments.
    I approach the bass from what I call "a Natural Forms at Rest" approach. Where the body's forms are supported by muscle and used, therefore, efficiently. It takes numerous lessons to acquire this as a philosophy and this forum is too limited to really go into detail: but generally if you observe your natural forms and utilize their at-rest shapes, supported, to play the bass, I believe you will be the most efficient and therefore have the least amount of tension in your playing.
    Good Luck! and feel free to continue the thread...
  3. Scott McC

    Scott McC

    May 13, 2006
    Thanks. Your reply was almost like reading my horroscope or something, it definetly hit home. I thinks I feel better already:) I am very curious to hear about this 'at-rest shapes' business. Thanks again.
  4. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    If you look at your relaxed hands and simply take that form (supported) to the bass... those I call "Forms-at-Rest." Same holds true in the way one sits or stands. If you can make those stances look as if you would take that form "naturally" then you're getting to what I believe are the most efficient forms for yourself. A few other things I do to keep irritation at bay: I pivot (LH) and rarely, if ever, stretch the fingers beyond the hand's width of palm. When one stretches or flexes fingers open, beyond the width of the palm, one stretches the muscles across the hand which puts stress on the tendons that are operated (as you know) by muscles in the arm, which are attached to the elbow. So those tendons can be irritated by the pressure that the hand muscles put on their movement. Likewise, the muscles in the shoulders press down on the shoulder when we raise our arm beyond shoulder height. After years of this the bursa (sak of fluid) which protects the shoulder bones from being crushed or worn-down by the muscles can become inflammed: bursitis! So I do not raise my arms over shoulder height. This means I must, for a low f on the e string, lower my elbow and place the hand at a moderately severe angle to the strings. This makes vibrato less wide. For a long time this is the position, but for a short duration, say for a wide vibrato on a relatively short passage, I raise the arm up. For the bow, I generally maintain a look where the hand is "hanging" from the arm (French) and the arm is always OVER the stick. I do not prescibe one position tho' for all strokes. Legato may be torqued forward whereas spiccato less so, towards the frog.

    Awareness of the feeling of stress and/or irritation is the critical thinking part that helps establish more efficient, personal, forms.
    Ciao! and Stay Cool! :cool:
  5. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Lakewood, OH
    PNeher - great advice. i have recently been going through some tendinitis issues as well and can agree that it's both mental and physical stress.

    thanks for the advice.

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