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11 March 2010 @ 11:01 am
Sore Right Fingers and Wrist  
I've been playing the flute for about 6 months after a hiatus of several years. I'm playing with a community band, and as our big yearly concert is approaching, we've been putting in lots of extra practice time, and I've been putting in more of my own. For the last week or so the amount of time I've been able to practice has gotten shorter and shorter because the ring and little fingers of my right hand have been sore. Now the pain has moved into my my right wrist (the outer side.) Do you have any tips for correcting this? I've been looking at my right arm position relative to my wrist, but I don't know if there is anything wrong with it or not. Those last two fingers are my weakest, but they're some of the most important. I have joint hypermobility (double-jointed) and when my fingers are tired or when I'm stretching my little finger to play the lower notes, the knuckle of that little finger has a tendency to "pop out," making it painful and harder to move. How can I strengthen not just my fingers but my joints?
The Simpsons' Illegitimate Spawn: squishythtsgoodsquishy on March 11th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how to help with the finger issue, but I remember my flute teacher had wrist problems for years due to poor playing position. If you hadn't played for several years, perhaps your technique is a little off? Some things to double-check if you haven't already:

1. Shake your right hand out, then hold it up. Your hand should be relaxed. Your forearm should be perpendicular to the floor, your hand parallel to the floor. This is your natural hand position for when you play.
2. Notice where your thumb goes. It may be directly under your index finger, or it may be off to one side.
3. Insert flute into your relaxed hand position. See where your thumb falls and mark it somehow--my teacher used one of those Bo-Pep plastic thumb holders (even on her nice flute) or recommended getting moleskin from the drug store to have a permanent reference point on the flute to know where your thumb needs to be.
4. Notice where your pinkie lands while in the relaxed position. Move your footjoint so that it is where your pinkie is, instead of moving your hand to meet the footjoint. For a lot of people, that means the rods of the footjoint align with the middle of the body's keys. (Too many people align the Eb key with the E key, either the part that's pressed or the part that opens, and that is *not* ergonomically correct.)
5. You may find that wearing some sort of wrist brace will help keep your wrist aligned properly, which in turn may help the finger issue.

As for fingers hyperextending, my teacher had an interesting little exercise. Pretend you're holding a medium-sized ball, like a softball. Keep your hands open as if the ball is there, but bring your fingertips together. You want to press each tip together, keeping your fingers slightly bent at that first knuckle. (This is harder to do if your nails are long, BTW.) Just keep repeating this over and over a few times each day. I forget the reasoning behind this, but I recall it helping.
Kristenluckydragongirl on March 12th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, this helps a lot! I'll take a look at the way I hold the flute. I'm sure I've picked up all kinds of bad habits, since it's been a long time since I had a teacher. What is the proper position for the right thumb? When I was a kid my teacher had me use one of those bi-bep things, but she placed it under my middle finger, which felt unnatural.
I'll try the fingertip thing, thanks again!
The Simpsons' Illegitimate Spawn: squishythtsgoodsquishy on March 12th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
The proper position for your thumb is where it lands when you do #1-3 above. It's different for every person. Mine ends up slightly to the side of my index finger after I shake my hand out. I think, for a lot of people, your thumb should be under your F key or a little left of there--so, yeah, having it under your middle finger is unnatural. Marking it with the Bo-Pep or a piece of moleskin will let you know where to put your thumb every time.