Monday, August 10, 2009

I is for ?

Intelligence, Intermission, or Injury.

I woke this morning with stiffness in my left shoulder, just about where the weight of the guitar rests. This happens at times. Years ago I learned to relax this area as I was "lifting' this shoulder to meet the weight of the guitar. Of course I did not know I was doing this until a friend of mine from the world of dance, Bob Dunn, watched me play. I have also had irritation in the area if I turn my neck to watch my hands while I play. And perhaps I just plain old slept funny last night.

While at work I did a bit of stretching and noticed that the tendon that leads to the outside of my left wrist was also sore. I had tendinitis in this area a couple years ago so I am very aware of being gentle when noticing any pain or discomfort here. Ignoring anything out of the ordinary in this area of my body is no longer an option. My adventure with tendinitis had me seeing an orthopedist, an acupuncturist, and a practitioner of the Muscle Release Technique. MRT was great as I was taught a series of stretches to do to alleviate the situation and to keep me healthy. MRT was developed in response to the growing Repetitive Use Injuries common to people who use their hands intensively. If you live in the Washington DC area, Robert True, a certified practitioner is located in Ashton, MD and did amazing work with me.

So for tonight I will apply my intelligence and take the night off from playing. I normally do this one night a week and Monday seems to work best. As I age I had to accept that I need an intermittent break from the demands the guitar places on my body. I had my wife massage the area and apply a liniment, Zheng Gu Shui, originally recommended by my acupuncturist.

If not and I choose to "play through the pain" then I is for Idiocy and eventually for INJURY. In fact maybe while I am listening to my body, I'll get out my mp3 recorder and listen to the solo works in progress that I am currently writing and/or learning. Seems like an intelligent response to my situation, musical progress without muscle injury.

Check out my solo guitar work on Scattered Hearts.  For only $4.99 you can receive a download that will support this blog, support my musical pursuits, and warm your soul to boot. Be kind to musicians, be kind to yourself.

Addendum to this post.

If you search this blog for Alexander Technique you will find quite a few postings on this topic. I was first exposed to the Alexander Technique 21 years ago on a Guitar Craft Course. Over the years whenever I had AT done to me I always benefited, but my individual application was sporadic and consisted mainly of doing a "lie down." While doing the "lie downs" is valuable to allowing your back to lengthen & widen and your entire body to rest, AT offers so much more.

In February of 2010 I began to study AT outside of participation in courses. I describe the change as that previously I had AT done to me, now I am embracing the work for myself. Issues in my left arm and shoulder are gone. Overall my use of myself is more efficient and relaxed, my awareness deepening. Individual instruction is vital in this work but a great guide to musicians is Indirect Procedures: A Musician's Guide to the Alexander Technique (Clarendon Paperbacks)  by Pedro de Alcantara. I can not recommend this book enough for insight into your musical process.

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