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Tremor in bowing arm

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by Torgi49, May 4, 2016.

  1. Torgi49


    Jul 1, 2013
    San Marcos, CA
    I'm an older player (66) and have only been playing for 6 years (not counting 2 in junior high school 50 sum years ago. I have recently developed an intermittent problem during arco passages. My right arm will tremor, sometimes sever enough to cause the bow to bounce off the strings. I've been to doctors and been advised it's not Parkinsons, but some sort of application specific tremor which might be treatable with botox injections (SAY WHAT?) I'm not inclined to go that route. Does anyone have any experience with this problem?
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I'm no medical expert and haven't experienced your symptoms, but on the face of it, it sounds as though your muscles are "pinching" a nerve which is causing a muscle spasm. If that's a correct diagnosis than Botox to kill the muscle tissue that is activating the nerve may indeed work. As a relatively safe experiment you could try having a Doctor inject some Cortisone into your forearm muscles which might provide relief for a while, and if it does, it would help confirm the diagnosis. You could also try things like lowering or raising your end-pin, sitting versus standing or vice versa, or using a bow with a different shaped frog. or a different grip. Any of those things might work too, IMO. Good luck.
  3. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Have had a similar trouble as a side-effect of blood pressure medicine, so don't discount outside sources. Have you changed meds/diet/job/stress/wife/location/hair color?
  4. Torgi49


    Jul 1, 2013
    San Marcos, CA
    Thanks Tom, I have switched from German to French bow, which actually helped for a while. I sit, as standing for more than 30 minutes caused me back pain (getting old sucks!). But I will try some end pin variations
  5. Torgi49


    Jul 1, 2013
    San Marcos, CA
    Thanks for the input - not taking any meds, retired over a year ago, same wife for over 20, hairs been grey for awhile (what's left of it). This condition actually goes back a couple of years. At first I just thought I was just nervous during a concert. But now it even happens practicing at home. The good news is that it seems to diminish after playing for a while. But it can be unnerving at the beginning of a concert or rehearsal.
  6. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I'm no expert, but I have to wonder whether you may be using too much muscle to control the bow. I know everything's easier when the arm is more relaxed.
    Neil Pye and the_Ryan like this.
  7. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    I think this is the problem in a nutshell - tension in the bow arm. I don't have a solution, other than to say "relax", which isn't all that helpful. I'd suggest getting to a teacher, see if they can spot where the tension is coming from
  8. bassmastan

    bassmastan Guest

    Jun 25, 2011
    Watch yourself in the mirror, specially with German bow if you hike up your shoulder you will pinch a nerve that leads to the bicep. This will make your bicep feel weak or tremors. It's really hard to tell when your hiking it up, ask someone to come behind you while your playing and push down. That or an issue with feet placement while playing.
  9. Jon Stefaniak

    Jon Stefaniak Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Tokyo, Japan
    Nobody's going to give a good diagnosis without seeing you play. Having a teacher watch is good advice.
    The easier said than done answer is to figure out what you're doing differently when things are going well and just do that.
    By intermittent, do you mean it comes and goes at random, or is it something that only happens when doing certain things with the bow?

    Best of luck!

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