There’s a good article (found via this blog entry by Bart Collins) about the injuries musicians face, and some advice on how to avoid them. It’s true that musicians suffer some unusual problems due to the instruments we play, and the odd positions some must take in order to play, along with the long hours we spend either performing or practicing (or both).

You might want to avoid one bit of advice given, though. The author suggests that you

“Stretch unobtrusively on stage when it’s not your turn to play. You can do this by scanning the audience or turning to gaze at fellow musicians as they play their parts.”

Hmmm. Stretching, yes. Gazing at your colleagues, maybe not. If I understand the writer correctly she’s suggesting that you turn, and in this stretch, your head, pretending to “gaze” at other players. This can be an extremely dangerous thing to do! We musicians are sensitive sorts. If we see someone stare over at us while we are soloing it can be a bit distracting. If we make a mistake, heaven forbid, we’ll then get annoyed. If you look immediately after a mistake you are in deep trouble! Staring at those in your line of sight is fine, but of course then you probably aren’t stretching. So, in my opinion, I’d suggest you not take that advice. Gazing out at the audience … well … that just seems silly to me. I have a feeling we are supposed to be paying attention to the music and conductor. I could be wrong, but … maybe not. But I can tell you for certain that conductors get pretty ticked if it doesn’t look like we are paying attention to them! Sometimes this is tricky; sometimes the conductor is so bad it’s better to not look! But we players know how to look like we’re looking! :-) (Some musicians aren’t into that game, but I’m quite content to have a happy conductor. The only thing worse than a disgruntled conductor at the podium is a disgruntled inadequate conductor standing in front of me.)

It is very true that it’s good to vary the works you are practicing, or at least the licks from those works. The repetitive is what gets us in trouble much of the time.

Anyway, just my little opinions here. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. (But, early in my career, I got “caught” staring at a musician once and nearly got my head ripped off!)

Just an aside: I find that computer use is much harder on my hands than playing oboe or English horn. We oboists are fortunate to have fewer problems with injuries.

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Grucza

    Yeah right now my wrists are feeling a bit bad, but it’s from
    typing.  When I’m playing my viola, they’re fine.  I guess I
    need to keep fiddling with my computer setup.

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    After working far too many hours yesterday and today on updating a page here, my hands are definitely not happy! (For me it’s not so much my wrists as it is my hands.) I just need to make sure I take breaks now and then.

    I also used to do needlework and my hands no longer allow me to do that; holding a needle makes my fingers very unhappy. Ah well. I think that’s about aging. Sigh.