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I have to fight off a degree of "GI Joe kung fu grip" in my right hand when playing shakuhachi--it leads to an achey, squished right thumb. I'm not sure what the best solution to this is; so far I have just been trying to be very mindful and keep that hand relaxed without losing my fingering. It can really show up when playing through a long piece. Working on it and adding it to the things to be aware of.
Has anyone else experienced this?
I definitely have that, but that's because I'm a beginner I guess.
Has anyone else experienced this?
Probably everyone, to one degree or another, from the beginning of time.
Sometimes it's useful to experiment with attaching some abrasive surface at the point of thumb contact, such as a 1cm x 2cm piece of 150 garnet or emery paper (cloth, the black stuff). This can be adhered safely using good old rubber cement from the stationery store, and more permanently—if you decide to stick with it (harhar)—with a good grade of spray adhesive. The rubber cement can just be wiped/rubbed off and the spray mount can be removed with hexane (brand name 'Bestine', also available in stationery/craft stores), which will remove organic adhesives or grease from virtually any surface, even nitrocellulose lacquer with out affecting the finish, bamboo included. In fact, it's a good idea to get some Bestine to clean the area of attachment if you decide to stick something on there for a while, as it'll improve the adhesion.
No shame in this. I've known very good players who've done it, or similar.
Last edited by edosan (2009-05-14 15:48:22)
Also, it's good to experiment a little with the position half a centimeter can do wonders. Regarding long flutes I have noticed that many players point their thumb straight down to lessen the tenssion.
I've been quite obssessed with practicing a new embouchure altely and my toe has been hurting/tingling in the last 2 days. Ice can be good.
And I'll try the thumb down position, thanks.
The most common reason for thumb pain is that you are not holding the flute correctly. Of course, I don't know in your case but many people hold the flute with the meaty part of the thumb. You should have the flute sitting on the side of the thumb where the thumbnail meets the skin. There's no way one can use the death grip when holding it this way. If holding it "correctly" it feels that the flute will fall out of your hand if there's any less tension. There are other reasons for holding it this way. Mostly to do with it enabling you to do many techniques easily later that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise. But also it has to do with avoiding wrist trouble later. If you need help just contact me and I'll show you on skype what I mean and why (for free; it's a holiday).
Last edited by chikuzen (2009-07-04 17:35:43)
Thank you! I think I got the position right (tiny surface contact, right? and... do you bend your thumb at all? or does it hold the shakuhachi sideways?) - it doesn't hurt when I play this way.
And I really want to avoid wrist trouble.
It may bent just a bit but bending usually steers it towards a "resting on meaty position" since it might already know that. I'd keep it as close under the #2 hole as possible depending on your fingers. remeber, keep the knuckles a little above the level of the shakuhachi. If the wrist is bent, it's death to a bunch of techniques and stresses out the muscles in the forearm.
And you know what, what a difference did it make, it's much easier to play now. Can´t believe it.
Posture may be loosened by walking around a bit while blowing, monks used to walk up and down hills while blowing, keeping their breathing calm as they walked.
Also, if you are clever enough, you could change hands during a piece, as you take a new breath.
"...there is an optimum thickness of flute for everyone's hand to hold. If the flute is too thin for your hand, you will end up using extra tension in holding it. Attaching something to the part of the flute where your thumb sits to increase thickness can help release this excess tension."
Yep, for me it's much thicker than what's considered normal. YIKES!!!!!!!
I had thought of you and the taimu actually. An appropriate fit, yes?
Ideally there's a nice balance between length, girth and weight, but that's hard to find.