Tense, Hurting Hands

Posted In: Young Harpists

  • Participant
    Laura Wilson on #166798

    Hi everyone! I’m preparing J.C. Bach/ Aristad Wurlitzer/ Dan Levitan’s Concerto in D Major (3rd movement) for a recital next Friday. The cadenza has fast scales in the right hand, and my hand/wrist is hurting-kind of that tired, tense sort of pain. Any ideas on how to relax while still playing fast?

    Thanks.

    Participant
    Briggsie B. Peawiggle on #166799

    Ooooh…..tensing up can be so bad, and it is really common when playing fast passages unless you become aware of it and make yourself stop doing it. I had a similar problem on the first movement of the Parry in D. It took me a long time to get the knack of relaxation when playing fast passages. You can’t really close all the way for every note you play when you’re going that quickly……but you can be aware of the need to close anyway, and the need to stay relaxed. I made myself take a step back and slow it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down (for practice purposes). I would play each note in the passage slowly and close, keeping my hand relaxed….hand in the proper position, arm in the proper position. It worked. I did that regularly for a long time — only during practice, and it began to build into the piece when I played it at tempo. For me, it wasn’t something that I could just “fix” — just like that. It was a habit I had gotten into when learning my first really ripping piece….and one I had to break. It also makes the tone much nicer when you are relaxed. It becomes very brittle when you get all tensed.

    Good luck!

    Briggs

    Participant
    Josiah hahaha on #166800

    Oh yes my hands will get very tired from the Parry in D… I think your hands may get tired and thats ok, but u do not want them tense.

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #166801

    Are you taking breaks in your practicing? Anything more than an hour at a time is a recipe for tendinitis. You have to rest completely during your break, and not do anything with your hands, such as chopping, knitting, writing, etc. If you are trying to larn music in a hurry, you can use some “break” time to practice mentally, but not physically. The other replies you have already received are very good! Practice slowly, relaxing between each note, and breathe deeply whenever you feel tension creeping in. Notice exactly which motions are producing pain and see if you can alter your technique a bit to make it more comfortable. It might be a matter of wrist angle or thumb action, for example.

    Participant
    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #166802

    I meant “learn”, not “larn”. I didn’t mean to sound like an extra from the set of “Oklahoma”.

    Participant
    Laura Wilson on #166803

    Thanks, everyone. At my harp lesson yesterday, my teacher pointed out that my shoulder was going up. When I stopped that, it really helped. We’re going to work on some other things after the recital to help the problem because it could lead to tendonitis. Thanks again!

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