A piano teacher who recently discovered yoga posted a couple of Facebook links to a wrist pain cure which she is selling; stating the nemesis of pianists is sore wrists. The professed wrist fix is, in fact, a basic combination of pronation and supination stretches of the forearm muscles with flexion and extension of the wrist with the arm fully extended. Firstly, illustrations of these stretches are demonstrated online for free.
Secondly, with proper training playing piano should always be painless. If you are experiencing pain, it is important that the cause of that pain is determined. Extended periods of training with poor technique or lack of body awareness can lead to an RSI or repetitive stress injury. It is important to remember that some of the precursors to injury include restriction of motion, fatigue and possibly a sense of loss of control for starters. If you are experiencing any of these, I recommend you stop playing immediately, consult me to find out if you are employing an inappropriate playing technique and your medical team for further evaluation and treatment. It is also important to consider how the body is being used away from the piano. Often day to day habits are major contributors of issues.
Having studied musclo-skeletal injury prevention for musicians for decades, it is evident that the focus on making beautiful music at all costs has unfortunately contributed to the failure of training musicians to be as aware of their bodies as athletes. To make matters worse, piano teachers often have very little understanding of how the piano works or of a healthy physical approach to playing the piano. Commonly whatever habits have been learned, are passed on to students leading to false comments such as “sore wrists are the nemesis of pianists” and the perpetuation of the problems.
Thirdly, in my experience, the next caution is with regard to claims of instant fixes. It is highly possible to make students more aware of their bodies but that in itself does not create ease in playing. It is essential that there is a thorough understanding of body mechanics to be able to demonstrate proper usage and recognize improper usage. Actual injuries must be referred to medical specialists for treatment. With sophisticated knowledge, it is possible to work in conjunction with a rehabilitative medical team to insure proper body mechanics are learned and that the injury is not repeated.
When musicians are trained with the same care as high performance athletes their abilities soar and the tone they produce is amazingly beautiful.
Love your body; love playing beautiful music pain free.
© Copyright by Heidi Peters, heidipetersmusic.com, Winnipeg, Canada, October 2014. All rights reserved.