Need data/info on physical requirements to play

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    amy-walts on #150900

    I was recently in a bad car accident (harpmobile totaled, right arm took the impact of the collision while holding steering wheel), and my hand specialists are trying to sort out nerve damage and tendinitis as a result. They are completely unfamiliar with the physical requirements of professionally playing the harp, and so are unable to determine when I will be fit to safely work again.

    I am trying to provide them with a description of what the requirements of a harpist’s hand/arm are. I had read years ago that the strength and endurance levels are physically similar to a tennis player’s arm, but can’t remember the source of that info. These are doctors, so any hard facts or published stats/quotes I can show them would be immensely helpful in helping them understand. (They tend to believe the harp is very graceful and delicate and how hard can it BE to pull those thin little strings? LOL.)

    Without more specific information on what a harpist’s arm must be capable of, the docs are preparing me as if I had a desk job, which as you know, is not the same thing at all. And since the other driver’s insurance company wants to only cover my treatment “until I can return to work”, I need a pretty clear and objective description for the docs of what that entails in physical terms.

    Does anyone have any information on the “science” behind playing the harp I can present them? How many pounds of pressure does the hand need to exert to pull a string? What sport is most similar in terms of muscle endurance in the arm? You harp teachers are probably fonts of information on the trivia and data of playing the harp. Anything you can provide me would be appreciated.

    jennifer-buehler on #150901

    I don’t have that info but wish you a speedy recovery.

    barbara-brundage on #150902

    I’m really sorry about your injury, Amy. I agree with Jennifer: you need someone who specializes in treating musicians’ injuries, at least to help them plan what to do for you. It’s a more widespread specialty than you might think, although the most important treatment centers seem to be Boston and NY.

    barbara-brundage on #150903

    I would be surprised if the hand specialist at your hospital doesn’t know of someone. Ask him/her, specifically about that.

    patricia-jaeger on #150904


    I’m so sorry this happened. This site may help: International Foundation of Performing Arts Medicine, at : Online questions can be sent to: Telephone, in New Jersey USA, is (201) 519 2441. If they cannot furnish the facts you need, they must be able to name sources that could. Many doctors, rehabilitation experts, and some prominent musicians are named on this site.

    unknown-user on #150905

    Hi – so sorry for your injury – how unfortunate!
    Two of us here in San Antonio have actually taken our harps to the doctors office to show them what is involved physically with playing the instrument – and that includes having them come outside to watch us load and unload from the van. They had no idea the amount of physical work involved.

    harp guy on #150906

    Well, I don’t have any information either, but I do have a recommendation.

    In addition to going to a performing arts medical facility, if you could get to Louisville Kentucky to Kleinert Kutz and Assoc. they would be ideal to work with. The were the first clinic to ever perform a functioning hand transplant. They are the leading physicians in regards to ailments of the upper extremeties and musicians fly from all around the world to see them. Luckily I live only an hour away, so they are the doctors that I see regarding my carpal tunnel problems.

    In the mean time I would try to get a harp similar to yours to a location where they can see for themselves the kind of strength and flexibility it takes to play this instrument. Maybe some youtube video material would be good if you couldn’t get someone to play it. I don’t remember who above mentioned this idea, but it’s great.

    Mel Sandberg on #150907

    Dear Amy

    Like everybody, my condolences, and I don’t have the exact answers either, but would have made similar suggestions, and obviously wish you well with the recovery.

    janelle-lake on #150908

    How awful!

    barbara-low on #150909

    I don’t have too much advice to offer on top of what has already been stated, but am sending best wishes for a speedy recovery and no lingering effects from the accident.

    I don’t know if seeing a sports medicine doctor would be of any benefit to you, though part of professional playing is being able to move your harp too.

    You might also want to seek the advice of an attorney. The insurance company can wait a bit, and don’t sign away your rights for any future action against their driver. You could seek compensation for wages lost, expenses incurred due to your injury, and pain and suffering. I believe you have one year from the date of the accident to file, but you should check; laws are different around the country.

    carl-swanson on #150910

    I agree with John Strand on this one. You need to have your doctor see what is actually involved in playing and moving the instrument. No amount of talking is going to convey the information he/she needs as well as observing what is involved.

    I too am sorry for your injury and hope everything resolves quickly and adequately. Many years ago the “great” singer Florence Foster Jenkins( Queen of the sliding scale) was in a taxi when it had an accident. She was roughed up and the driver, knowing who she was, was terrified of a law suit. But a few days later he got a call from her secretary asking if he was OK and telling him that Miss Jenkins was actually grateful to him. “You see, as a result of the accident” the secretary explained,”Miss Jenkins can now sing a higher F than she could before!”

    barbara-low on #150911

    That’s a nice story, Carl.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #150912

    A Dr. Bejjani, formerly married to Elaine Christy Bejjani, did studies on several New York harpists to compare their techniques. He may have the data you need. The study might have been published in the Journal of Performing Arts Medicine. There are doctors out there with the knowledge you need. There are Performing Arts Medicine organizations through which you can try to locate them. Many other doctors won’t bother. I brought my orthopedist a video and he never bothered to watch it. Heinz Lippmann was at Montefiore in the Bronx, and he helped harpists, but I don’t know if he published anything or left any documentation. I know a harpist who went through the same thing, if you write me, I can give you her name.

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