Monday, October 18, 2010

Stretching

     Many, many years ago, in the years of my youth, I read a magazine article about the importance of stretching.  Advice and suggested  exercises were included.  All sounded good, and I was convinced that I should attempt this.  The routine lasted two weeks, maybe.... I hated it.  Nothing to direct my thoughts, and the stretches got old really fast.  Boring.  I had no patience for it.  And...did I really need this?  I moved fine without it.
     It has also been suggested that string players, like athletes, should always warm up before practicing.  My thoughts on this..."You've got to be kidding!  No way, Jose.  Boring. I don't need it".
     And then my body got old.
     And I fell and hurt my left wrist.
     And I could not play my viola for 7 weeks.
     And this was VERY bad!!
     And it healed,
     And how was I to begin again in my fifties without reinjuring myself??!!
     Ah ha.........ah ha.......slowly, carefully, with STRETCHES.  This time there was no choice if I wanted to play again.  So I began.
     My practice time increased gradually from 5 minutes a day to almost an hour over the course of a month.  I was disciplined and used a timer so I would not play too long.  I added slow, gentle stretches so I would be able to shift again; I had a concert coming that required a lot of that!!  Stretches increased and I added trills.  Trills seemed to really strengthen and work my wrist.  Etudes with trills and lots of shifts were added for endurance.  By the end of the month I was traversing my fingerboard amazingly well....in fact, I could get around BETTER than before the injury. How could this be?!  Hmmmmmm...could it be that I had been avoiding shifting before the injury?  Shifting involved stretching....guess I had better continue!
     Now I almost always stretch before I play, and I pay for it if I don't!  I have been converted, and I continue to play without injury.  So much for my learning experience.
     Does this apply to other areas of life?  I think so.  I firmly believe that as we age we need to stretch our brains as well as our bodies.  We need to stretch ourselves spiritually, and on a daily basis.  Spiritual growth goes with us when we die.
     Enough for now.  I just pooped out.........and I need to practice.....
     

   

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.