Getting blisters on fingers

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    unknown-user on #155501

    I love playing my harp and I’m new to it. I like to practice for a
    couple of hours a day but find myself having to give up early due to
    inflammation and the development of blisters on my fingertips.

    I’m playing a gut strung concert tension harp. I suppose all I really
    want to know is how long will it take my fingers to harden so I can
    practice as much as I want to?

    Thanks

    Participant
    Zen Sojourner on #155502

    Everybody’s different.

    Participant
    Evangeline Williams on #155503

    The times I am most likely to get blisters are rehearsals with bands/orchestras before performances…especially all-day rehearsals.

    Member
    donna-benier on #155504

    Claire, I have played harp for 25 years and a long time ago discovered that if I put a little bit of glycerin lotion just on my fingertips, I could play without getting blisters. (My brand is “Camille Beckman” but there are several on the market.) I buy it by the tube and keep one in my gig bag for long performances. Don’t overdo it, and DON’T get it on the palm of your hands..it’s slippery.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155505

    When I have heavy-duty practice time (That is, about 6 hours a day) I get these annoying bubbles on my skin. When I pop them (usually with like my teeth or something) this water-like stuff comes out, and then the remaining deflated bubble turns into a lovely callus. Great image, no? The bubbles hurt like hell though.

    Now that school’s out for the summer, and BUTI is looming near, I’m having more and more heavy-duty practice days. Oiy.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155506

    hmmmm I disagree with most people here….. I don’t think you should want for your
    fingers to harden because the sound is not as nice as with soft fingers…. then again I
    practice ALOT ALOT like Steven and spend a ton of time on etudes and exercises which
    give me awful blisters.. the same kind of water blister that Steven gets. So I know its
    annoying and that the blisters are kind of a way to show off how long you practice (kinda
    like a violin hickey) but you really have to stop playing as soon as you feel any kind of pain
    and wash your hands under hot water and apply some kind of hand lotion. And yeah
    everybodys fingers react differently to playing, mine even change by seasons. Its really
    great that you’re starting out practicing enough to get blisters…. when I started I had to be
    forced to practice lol! Well speaking of practicing I need to go and do some
    Good luck!
    Maddie

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155507

    Thanks everyone,

    Ok, I’ll tone the harp practice down a bit. It’s not as if I’m forcing myself to practice so long it’s just that I get lost in it. Once I start plucking away I get addicted and can’t stop…Lol

    I have tried the short sessions suggested here and it seems to be working well if a little frustrating because my fingers are just getting warmed up in 10 mins..I’ll just trust I can go for longer periods in time.

    Cheers
    Claire

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155508

    You really should stop just before you get blisters, and use that point to build up from gradually. Six hours is as much as anyone should practice. It is important to keep the skin well-oiled at other times, I think for protection. I believe a bit of weakened bleach will toughen the skin, vinegar might also work. Oil will keep it supple. I prefer Nivea Skin Conditioning Lotion which has a lot of lanolin, or Bag Balm. Minimize your exposure to water which softens and weakens your calluses. Glycerin is protective, but slippery. Also file any callous that is shredding so it doesn’t peel and remove more. Wear gloves to wash dishes.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #155509

    A couple of thoughts…I’m practicing again now after a 3 year hiatus(that’s
    right. 3 years of no playing!), so I had to start developing calluses from
    scratch.

    Participant
    Evangeline Williams on #155510

    So calluses aren’t always a good thing?

    Member
    tony-morosco on #155511

    I find this all very interesting. I have never developed calluses on my fingers from playing the harp.

    When I took up the guitar I developed them on my left hand fingers, and found that they can, indeed, interfere with playing the harp, so I file them down when they get too developed.

    But if I stop playing guitar for a while they go away and the harp does not cause or maintain them.

    On harp I experience absolutely no discomfort when I play despite the lack of calluses. I never even realized other people did develop them from playing harp until a few years ago when another harpist mentioned it.

    I guess it just goes to show how we are all built differently and that a one sized fits all approach to playing an instrument does not work out best.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155512

    If soft skin produces better sound maybe that’s why there are more women harpists than men harpists.

    Participant
    Zen Sojourner on #155513

    I don’t get hard, pronounced calluses, but I do get thickened areas of skin from playing.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155514

    I’ve been playing pedal for 2 years, but I noticed that I only start to develop real blisters when I’m working on a piece with lots of rolled chords.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #155515

    I always get blisters when I play for extended periods of time (like during graduation)or when playing glissandos.

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