Hand cramps and pain.

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Freedomhunter
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Hand cramps and pain.

Post by Freedomhunter » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:47 pm

Hello everyone,

I have a quick question, I have been playing the pipes now for about a year and a half, but have owned them for 3 years. Kids will do that to you! Anyways I am really starting to get some free time, but I am finding out I can only practice for 20 minutes at a time because of my hand cramps I am getting playing the chanter. The longer I play the worse it gets until I reach the point that I cannot cover the holes do to my finger placement. I was wondering if anyone was having this same problem and if there was away to correct the issue. I am hoping that playing more and more the issue will go away, but I was wondering if stretching out my hands might help. I was reading that some flute players soak their hands in hot water, but that is not very convenient if you playing in a session.

Thanks

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awilde569
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Re: Hand cramps and pain.

Post by awilde569 » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:42 am

This might seem like an odd question, but are you trying to play the chanter covering the tone holes with your finger tips or using the piper's grip which uses more of the flats of the fingers?
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outofthebox
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Re: Hand cramps and pain.

Post by outofthebox » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:08 am

Stretching could help. A good exercise that I have used is to use a thick broom handle and 'play' it as if it was a chanter. The extra thickness will stretch your fingers out - so when you go back to your chanter it will feel small by comparison. Also - anything I play on the broom handle always sounds great :wink: .

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djm
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Re: Hand cramps and pain.

Post by djm » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:10 am

You are suffering from something I call "the death grip". It is a really bad habit to develop and even harder to get rid of. I should know. Mine keeps creeping back in from time to time. I started out trying to teach myself as an isolated piper for about a year. Then I got a chance to get a lesson from a good piper passing through (Martin Nolan) who pointed out everything I had to unlearn and start over.

It usually begins when you convince yourself that the only way to cover the tone holes is by squeezing harder. The truth is the exact opposite. You need to learn to soften your hands and feel for the tone holes until you memorize their positions. Even the best pipers miss from time to time, as revealed by the odd tell-tale squeak. But this is just a matter of time, practice and concentration.

You must keep your hands and wrists soft and flexible while playing. When you tighten your hands you cut off blood flow to them and cause them to stiffen up. You will never achieve any sort of speed or accuracy in your piping with your hands in this state. Shake them out from time to time when you feel them starting to stiffen or you are getting frustrated in your practice. Keep the hands and wrists soft while you keep your shoulders and elbows strong. They're not called the pipes of the elbows for nothing.

Start over. Take a deep breath and relax. Music is supposed to be soothing, not a chore or a battle.

djm
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awilde569
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Re: Hand cramps and pain.

Post by awilde569 » Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:24 am

djm wrote: Start over. Take a deep breath and relax. Music is supposed to be soothing, not a chore or a battle.
djm
Don't tell that to those ornery highland pipers though :wink:
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the plod
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Re: Hand cramps and pain.

Post by the plod » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:47 pm

try practicing without resting your right thumb on the back of the chanter.

Mr Hulot
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Re: Hand cramps and pain.

Post by Mr Hulot » Mon May 19, 2014 1:42 am

I was reading that some flute players soak their hands in hot water, but that is not very convenient if you playing in a session.
You could always carry a hottie (Hot water bottle) to the session :lol:

Seriously it is a common problem caused by gripping the chanter either too tightly or not quite in the right place so you are putting the hand under stress. It may also be your posture which can put strain on the shoulder as well. Had it myself on occasion until I got my half set where the chanter had a thumb rest

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