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Posted by AndyW on Thursday, October 12, 2017

The first half of the 'Clawhammer From Scratch' tunes don't involve much pinkie work. But the second half do, and at one point my left arm was getting extremely fatigued as I learned to use my pinkie whilst playing all these tunes off tablature. After a while though it got better, and I assume this was due to the previously unused muscles strengthening. Huzzah!  Or so I thought.

Today, as I built up my one finger one fret playing to a reasonable speed the left arm fatigue is back. The different combinations of fingering I am using must be once again making me use previously unused muscles. The one positive I take from this is that once these muscles strengthen what I am finding awkward should become much easier.

I still find it crazy that fatigue from the fingers can extend not only through the hand into the forearm but also into the upper arm. Outside musical instruments though there can't be many situations where pressure is applied from the fingertips. 

My practice for the next few sessions is going to be pretty unadventurous just running through my ten tunes concentrating on fingering and rh wrist position. I'm finding changeovers from A part to B part easy, but B back to A is a bit stuttering. This is due to my tendency to play through my tunes once then move on. So I'm going to slow my metronome back down and concentrate on playing single tunes through over and over again to get the changeovers smooth. I'll probably have to limit myself to one or two tunes per session to manage this and it could take some time, but that time will give my finger muscles a chance to strengthen. Once I get all ten tunes playing through smoothly I think I will move onto the 'kitchen sink versions' which means the same tunes but this time with hammer-ons, pull offs, slides, rests etc etc

8 comments on “Fatigue”

Boadicea Says:
Thursday, October 12, 2017 @5:24:05 PM

Are you doing any physical exercises to warm up and cool down when you are practising. It could be worth a thought. Also not staying in the same physical position whilst practising so your body doesn't freeze up as much. So you could play around with sitting, standing, and oddly enough lying down. I lie down sometimes when my shoulder starts go to getting sore. I am a very non relaxed person. I am also trying to remember to breathe, and not brace myself.

Boadicea Says:
Thursday, October 12, 2017 @5:28:52 PM

One of my friends is an Alexander Technique, she also is a musician and plays banjo. She suggested this book for me. I do the semi supine (also known as constructive rest). Body, Breath and Being: A new guide to the Alexander Technique Paperback – November 7, 2014
by Carolyn Nicholls.

Boadicea Says:
Thursday, October 12, 2017 @5:30:38 PM

New fully revised and updated edition, complete with 2 brand new chapters on Chronic Pain and Well-being

Developed over a period of 100 years, the Alexander Technique has helped people to successfully manage a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, stress, anxiety, ME, and asthma.

The Alexander Technique is not a therapy or an exercise program. It is an in-depth study of how human reaction, co-ordination and movement play a part in everything we do. It has enhanced the performance of athletes, actors, singers and musicians.

Body, Breath and Being explores the Alexander Technique through the experiences of those who have studied it and benefited from it.

• Ideal for both beginner and expert
• Includes over 100 full colour photographs and diagrams
• Provides practical experiments in every chapter

Body, Breath and Being offers a new view of the way we use our bodies and the consequences not only on our health, but also our approach to life

Play or Download Audio files in mp3 format:

Active rest: The art and practice of semi-supine – Chapter 1
Flexion without tears: monkey with your hands on the wall – Chapter 3
Release and relax: for high pain, low energy – Chapter 4
Calmness of Breath – Chapter 6
Six sided shape: Directing your arms and fingers – Chapter 8
Cross Legged sitting – Chapter 9
Crawling for grown-ups – Chapter 10
Let’s raise the roof (lifting the soft palate) – previously,‘breath and voice’ – Chapter 11

Boadicea Says:
Thursday, October 12, 2017 @5:53:07 PM

I am also trying to up my exercise as well AndyW, so my body doesn't get to tight, and brace too much whilst I practise. But you might not be interested in any of that, so no worries.

The only thing is that as we are having stiffness and pain now - what will we be like in a year or two? So I am trying to look at picking up skills so I can manage better. I am a pretty non relaxed type of person overall.

AndyW Says:
Friday, October 13, 2017 @12:52:11 AM

Hi Kate. To be honest I don't think I am playing anywhere near fast enough to warrant any warm up exercises. I can see the benefits though for later on, especially before a longish practice or playing session.

For me my left hand fatigue is just tired muscles that have never been utilised before. There are definitely exercises specifically designed to build up strength. Tony Spadero (of Rocket Science Banjo) has such exercises terming them 'Mold a mighty pinkie'. Once I move onto my 'kitchen sink versions' I may have a look at that.

My right hand wrist that I am worried about is actually more tired playing in the conventional position with a straighter wrist. It was fine with the bent wrist and I was worried because it was slightly different. As I strummed guitar with my fingers I wonder if it came from that. Today I am going to strum few chords and watch my wrist position. If it's cocked over I may just crack on with the unconventional figuring it's been fine for 20 years of guitar. I will report back later.

AndyW Says:
Friday, October 13, 2017 @4:43:06 AM

After playing and concentrating on relaxing the right hand whilst really concentrating on my rh position both bent and straight I have decided to continue with the straighter wrist. It gives a much more compact motion. Although my right arm is feeling this more I think it's just because it's a different motion to the last 3 months and like the lh, once the muscles are used to it the feeling will go away.

I think it's just like when a new form of physical exercise is taken up (just on a smaller level). At first the body feels it with lactic acid build up etc, but then gets used to it.

WayneConrad Says:
Saturday, October 14, 2017 @9:04:27 AM

I'm glad you've found a position that works for you. Convection is a useful place to start, but shouldn't be a straight-jacket.

When I have trouble with a section of a tune, sometimes I just concentrate on that section, and a few bars leading into and out of it, playing it over and over, to iron out the trouble. Incorporating a few bars before and after the trouble section makes sure I won't learn a way to play it that won't work when played in the context of the whole song (I learned this the hard way!).

Boadicea Says:
Saturday, October 14, 2017 @1:17:54 PM

I am still struggling physically, with playing, it is interesting to read what you are doing AndyW. I know I need "The Alexander Technique, or equivalent, as I have poor use in my general body anyway, particularly given I so rarely relax, or stop bracing, and I hold my breath in my general day to day activities, as well as when playing my banjo.

WayneConrad That is an interesting insight, that playing a few bars in to an area of challenge, and a few bars after a challenging section of music. It makes perfect sense to do what you are doing, but until now I wouldn't have considered it.

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