I’ve got a student who gets very serious injuries on her fingertips. The problem is not the lack of regular practice, also she doesn’t play many hours a day, just 2 (3 at the weekends).
She got a blister on her 4th finger, left hand and she had a competition this weekend so she couldn’t stop playing. The blister broke and she was bleeding a lot every time she played just for 15 minutes.
Last year same thing happened on her thumb, right hand.it took about a month for the skin to be normal again.
I’ve read all the other forum questions on advises for healing the fingertips.
But what about prevention? I wonder if she does too much pressure with her fingertips (she plays a good forte but nothing of an ugly sound) or is just her skin condition. Is there some habit that she can change to avoid skin damage, like washing the dishes, etc?
A little personal experience that may (or may not) help. I have always had soft hands. Even though I work in a wood shop daily. Even though I’m gardening and doing outside stuff every weekend. Even though I still do the same kinds of things outside all winter. I virtually never need any lotion, etc–my skin never cracks in the winter, which is a blessing.
I play pedal harp nearly every day and have calluses, yet, even so, more than three hours in the same day will reliably produce a blister, usually deep underneath the callus.
If that is what she is experiencing, the only thing I have found that works is to not play loudly except when dynamics is what you are working on. Also, it works better for me to take it in short doses, not more than 30 min at a time.
If she uses lotion or any moisturizer, suggest she stop. If the calluses are too dry, I sometimes use just a tiny little bit right on the callus only. You also mention washing dishes. If I wash my hands immediately before playing, they will also get sore quickly–so I wash then wait 5 minutes or so before playing.
I have fairly easily injured fingers and certainly could not suddenly add an hour onto my usual time once or twice a week unless I am very careful. I play a lot more than two hours a day but only if I am playing daily. If I miss a week or two I have to work up again gradually. I could not play for more ethan about 20 mins as a young child. And I cover my fingers – I have a variety of tapes/bandaids/duoderm if they start to hurt and back right off fortes and glisses. I would never play on a full-on blister unless it was covered – I have ended up with holes in my finger doing that that took forever to heal. You just have to accept a slightly off tone and find a covering that suits you and stays on. There are a variety of things people dip their fingers into supposedly for toughening – ranging from some French homeopathic thing that didn’t work for me to methylated spirits! I wonder if she has quite moist fingers. Mine are worse in humid heat or if I have been swimming.
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