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Question for Michael Manring

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by meltsakana, Sep 3, 2002.


  1. meltsakana

    meltsakana

    Sep 3, 2002
    Michael,
    I attended the bass boot camp in late august. Since it I have been trying to do your practicing exercises daily that you gave in the workshop, specifically the left hand permutations. I feel they are beginning to free my fingers up, but I have several questions. One issue is this: Does your video Bass Essentials have similar information to what you discussed at the camp? I would like to reassure myself that I am doing everything properly. Secondly, After doing ALL the permutations I feel fatigue in my left arm, specifically at the forearm point near the elbow. How can I modify my exercises to conquer the fatique? I don't want to stop doing the exercises because they make me feel like I'm freeing up my fingers, but I am anxious about this arm fatigue.

    PS: I was one of the kids to have a private lesson with you! I was the younger kid of the two who came late on the saturday night and had a lesson together.

    Thank you,
    Dan.
     
  2. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for coming to the Bass Bootcamp! I'm glad to know those permutation exercises are working for you. It sounds like you might be pushing yourself a bit too hard, though. I recommend doing them very slowly and taking plenty of breaks to do the kinds of stretching I showed you. You probably want to focus mostly on developing finger independence and dexterity, so playing slowly and really concentrating should do you the most good. Try to pay attention to all the feelings in your hands and arms. Some muscle soreness is OK – it just means that you're exercising muscles that don't usually get exercise. But most pain is indicative that the motions you are using are ineffective and/or unhealthy. Only you can figure out which you are feeling and how you can adapt your technique accordingly. Keep experimenting until you find what works for you.

    The Bass Essentials video does cover the same material I worked on with you guys, but it's a little more in depth. However, I made it over ten years ago (yikes!) so things may be a little different!
     
  3. meltsakana

    meltsakana

    Sep 3, 2002
    Michael,

    I just watched the Bass Essentials video, and I am so glad I got it. I had gotten so hung up in the permutations I had forgotten half of the stretching exercises and relaxation techniques you worked on! I am really glad I got it, because I think the arm tension and fatigue will begin to lessen as I stretch in a more liberal and detailed way. I should be able to relax a little more.

    But even without using the stretching to my fullest advantage (only using finger stretching, not on bass stretching) I have improved a lot after 3 weeks of hard work. My 3rd and 4th finger are getting a lot stronger as a result of the permutations, and my ring finger is beginning to gain independence from my middle finger! Thank you so much for providing me with exercises that will allow me to continually build my technique!

    Thanks again,
    Dan
     
  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Great news, Dan! Please keep me informed about how things go for you.
     
  5. meltsakana

    meltsakana

    Sep 3, 2002
    Dear Michael,

    Well, you told me to keep you updated on how things are going for me, so here it goes. It's pretty long.

    Since my last response, everything has been going downhill. The tendonitis which I had experienced a year before, and thought I was done with, resurfaced and since talking to you, it has worsened. I have seen several doctors about it, and taken up physical therapy which did me no good. I bought several items to help me deal, including a thick strap, an ergonomic keyboard, and some cheesey arm exercise device. While the strap is nice and takes some weight off my shoulder, the problem persists. I have seen an Osteopathic & Homeopathic specialist, and also a medical Acupuncturist, but I don't have enough history with these alternative methods to tell if they are helping.

    Interestingly enough, this curse has taught me what I couldn't really understand from you at the Bootcamp. It has shown me that my body is connected, because the pain/fatigue/soreness radiates from my neck, down into my elbows on the 'tennis elbow' location, into my palm and index fingers on each hand.

    The problem usually only settles in one arm at a time, and stays with that arm for at least 7 hours before calming down, and will usually move to the other arm sooner or later. Now, it is a tingling tenderness on my right side, and yesterday it was the left side, and the day before the right... The worst part is that I have had to choose and limit, in these past months, what I am going to practice, because there will surely be some typing I have to do for school, or chord changes I need to work on for a school rehearsal the next day. So, my arms wouldn't let me work on everything, and in favor of other things, I couldn't do the stretches and permutations that I probably SHOULD have done to enhance my dexterity and get better! As a result my lefthand pinky still involuntarily contracts when I try to bend my left ring finger at the first digit: IE my bad habits are still with me.

    I don't know. I've looked a lot of places. It is very frustrating that there are no resources about this kind of thing in the Bass Guitar Universe. If you, or anyone else on this thread, have any experience with RSI or tendonitis or some websites on it, I'd be glad to see more information.

    I have the problem typing and playing and writing. It must be how I am using my body. I am seeing a specialist about this in a week; the founder of the Piano Wellness Seminar and an expert on healthy technique and methods of stress release. I'll be bringing everything to her, and I hope she can identify patterns of bad technique and tension.

    It's extremely frustrating. I have put down the bass for about 2 weeks now at doctor's requests to let my arms heal. If you have any ideas, anyone, please share them with me.

    Thanks Michael,
    Dan
     
  6. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Dan,

    I'm so sorry to hear that your problems are continuing. I think it's great that you are consulting a specialist. At this point you definitely need to be getting the best and most specific professional advice you can. Unfortunately, as I understand it, still little is known about repetitive motion injuries and you may have to continue trying different healing methods to find what works for you. There are an increasing number of doctors who specialize in music related injuries. Consider going to a hand specialist, occupational therapist and/or a neurologist as well. There is an interesting book I read by John Sarno about psychological factors in chronic pain that might be helpful to you. Sometimes the method of healing you chose is less important than finding the right health care person for you. There may be some small good news in that if the pain originates in your neck, it may be caused by something other than playing music. Eventually you'll figure it out.

    Please don't worry too much about not being able to play for the time being. Consider spending the time doing other creative things. Listen to more music -- music that you might not normally listen to. Listen more deeply and try to understand everything that's going on. Read more. Read Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Faulkner, Lao Tzu, Plato, Jung, Dickinson, Joyce, Tolstoy, Whitman… Form opinions and find someone who disagrees with you so you can debate. Find out what's going in the world. Go places you've never been. Meet new people. Go to the library. Try yoga, martial arts or Tai Chi. Go to the Park. Take walks. Try unusual foods. Learn more about painting, poetry, dance, history, science, philosophy, politics, psychology, culture… While these things won't improve your bass technique, they will give you more insight into where music comes from and what makes music important. This will give you an advantage over those who are only able to see music as a technical exercise, because by becoming a more complete human being you will be able to make music of greater substance and significance.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences here so others can benefit from what you are learning.

    Good luck.
     
  7. dennisv

    dennisv

    Jan 19, 2003
    Pomona, CA
    To Michael, and Dan,

    Michael, my wife and I were inspired by your solo performance at JT Schmid's in Anaheim, CA, as part of the Winter NAMM convention. Besides your brilliant playing, my wife (a non-musician) noticed something perhaps of greater importance. She said you seemed to have a very humble spirit.

    Dan, I experienced similar problems and would like to suggest a very helpful book:

    Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome : And Other Repetitive Strain Injuries
    by Sharon J. Butler, Jacqueline Entwistle Freeman

    It describes a gentle stretching method that cleared up a similar "tennis elbow" problem I developed from overdoing my bass playing. There was one stretch from the book I did with my neck that literally struck a nerve. I was slowly doing this neck stretch when I could feel a tingling in my forearm and fingers, particularly the left pinky and ring fingers which were hurting.

    You're right that the neck (and shoulders, and back, and everything else) is connected with pain in the arms.

    Best wishes,

    Dennis
     
  8. dennisv

    dennisv

    Jan 19, 2003
    Pomona, CA
    To Michael, and Dan,

    Michael, my wife and I were inspired by your solo performance at JT Schmid's in Anaheim, CA, as part of the Winter NAMM convention. Besides your brilliant playing, my wife (a non-musician) noticed something perhaps of greater importance. She said you seemed to have a very humble spirit.

    Dan, I experienced similar problems and would like to suggest a very helpful book:

    Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome : And Other Repetitive Strain Injuries
    by Sharon J. Butler, Jacqueline Entwistle Freeman

    It describes a gentle stretching method that cleared up a similar "tennis elbow" problem I developed from overdoing my bass playing. There was one stretch from the book I did with my neck that literally struck a nerve. I was slowly doing this neck stretch when I could feel a tingling in my forearm and fingers, particularly the left pinky and ring fingers which were hurting.

    You're right that the neck (and shoulders, and back, and everything else) is connected with pain in the arms.

    Best wishes,

    Dennis