Muscle pain - What causes it?

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Postby 73-1078374881 » Tue Mar 16, 2004 9:02 am

For a long time, I've had to deal with forearm pain when playing the piano. I think maaaaaybe this could be caused by playing the violin, because I've noticed that playing the violin develops all these fine little muscles that get bothered if I even lift something the wrong way! Or, it could be that I don't play the piano correctly (which is a very good possibility since I've been self-taught since eighth grade)! I'm VERY eager to hear feedback on this! Does anyone else have this problem? What do you think causes it and how do you deal with it?

Edited By IPlayTheViolinSoThere on 1079449414
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:18 pm

I.P., you should not have pain when you play the piano OR the violin! You are doing something wrong--it's not because you're using a different set of muscles. The small muscles in the hands and the long muscles in the arms must cooperate and not fight each other and cause tension, which in turn causes you to force against the rigidity and experience pain. For starters, check and see if you're holding your shoulders and neck tense when you play.

But I strongly suggest that you find a good teacher and stop trying to teach yourself. Piano technique is not a do-it-yourself skill, I don't how many self-help methods, midnight TV infomercials, salesmen or con artists say it is--not if you're trying to do more than learn a couple of Christmas Carols, anyway. Please think about this.

Dr. Bill.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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Postby Mins Music » Tue Mar 16, 2004 5:27 pm

mmm, forearm pain could be because you're concentrating on using finger strength alone - of course it's impossible to make a diagnosis without seeing you play. No doubt it is caused by tension is some area of your body. Are you 'reaching' for the keys with your fingers instead of allowing your arm to guide you? Do you have a relaxed wrist instead of a rigid non moving one. When do you notice the pain the most - as SOON as you begin playing, after an hour of playing, when you play fortissimo, or when you play pianissimo, legato or stacatto, double octaves?

If you are teaching yourself, then learn to self analyse as well. Watch how you play, 'feel' how you play. And if something is not working, try something else. Pain in your forearms will suggest something is not working. Work out what you are doing first, then try the opposite!
"I forget what I was taught, I only remember what I've learnt." - Patrick White, Australian novelist.
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Postby Ursie » Tue Mar 16, 2004 5:59 pm

Yep, I've had forearm pain and it was/is caused by playing particular music - for me Honky Tonk piano. My left forearm practically seizes up or used to until I started with my new teacher. Anyway it seems that I haven't been relaxed and have 'taught' my arm to go into this terribly tense position when playing this music or anything similar. So now I am working on being relaxed. For now I am avoiding playing Honky Tonk. Do you get the pain in your forearm always or only at certain times?
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Postby 73-1078374881 » Tue Mar 16, 2004 9:34 pm

Wow. Thanks for all the advice!!! Dr. Leland, I actually have been contemplating quitting the piano until I could possibly get a teacher in college, so thanks for the little push in that direction... I get arm pain when I play loud music, fast music, or Ravel, Quidam... and Mins Music, I will analyse my playing this week and give a full report later. :O Thanks all for the great advice!!
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:42 pm

I used to have terrible pain at the base of my neck, and i used to have forearm pain as well. I really don't any more. Playing the pian uses a variety of different motions and you should try to figure out the most efficient way to get the sound you want. You can never be COMPLETELY relaxed [you're moving for pity's sake!] but you can be effortless. One thing that helped me to relax was to be very very exaggerated. I would try to be extremely relaxed and play very slowly.[but not for Too long!] Of course everything sounded kind of weird, but I had the time to figure out what I was doing and just concentrate on getting my motions to happen without pain. After I learned to play "too relaxed" I just concentrated on re-adding the control. I don't know whether this is a very good way to do things or not, it's only how I figured some things out.
The one good thing about having a teacher is that if something hurts, they can teach to efficient and relaxed motion patterns, so that it sounds better and stops hurting. How about I just drive the zillion and a half miles to your house and we can just be music geeks together! You can help me play the violin without sounding like an upset cat, and I can help you keep your wrists intact. :D :;):
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Postby 81-1074658942 » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:13 pm

Another thing you might want to try is table top playing. When you're trying to learn a new motion pattern without ties knots in your tendons this can be really helpful. Shut the lid of the piano, and play the difficult part of your song on the lid. It helps because you can isolate the motions and concentrate on what you're doing with them, and for some weird reason it seems to help alleviate muscle tension.
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Postby 69-1080625173 » Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:42 am

If you are getting the type of pain that you get when you lift weights for example, then I would think that is a good thing. It means that you are building up the muscles in your arms. I got this when i started to do fast stuff with wide hand spans eg: C3 C4 E3 F3 F#3 G3 G2 G3 repeated fast gave my left hand a good workout until i mastered it. It may be because of bad technique though, so if you have any friends that could check your technique that would help, but not a much as a proper teacher ^_-.
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