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Health and Music
Have you ever heard of Carpel
Chances are if you are older, you know of them very well even if
you don't know the correct name for it. In this section,
keep in mind that I am not a doctor and can not give medical
advice; however, I understand first hand how it effects my
These conditions are problems in the top and bottom of the
wrist where many of the working parts of your arm are gathered
together such as the tendons, nerves, and blood vessels.
These things are gathered together like a bundle of wires and held
together with a "tie wrap". The problem starts when these
things have to slide against each other for long periods of
time. Like anything else, things wear out. The body
has a way of repairing things so it is not so bad.
We break muscles down and they get stronger when they
heal. In this case, if everything gets bigger except the
band that holds it all together, where does it go? It would be
like putting a collar on a young pet and not adjusting it as the
pet's neck gets bigger. In fact, we are not building strong
mussels in this area but scar tissue. Once the bundle
tendons, nerves, and blood vessels become choked, blood flow is
reduced from swelling and nerve damage can occur.
What does this have to do with music? How would
you like to be in your prime music playing days and your hands
stop working? You can't chord your guitar or do those banjo roles
that you have worked so hard on. When we are young, we
tend to feel like we have perfect health and are as strong as an
ox. This might be true except some of our parts are wearing
out without our knowledge. Then around the age of thirty, it catches up, some more
than others. To make a long story short, learn more about
this condition and take the precautions to protect you
wrists. In general, remember to keep your
wrists straight to let all of the inner parts work in a straight
line. This will reduce the friction that causes the
problems. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Let's say you already have it so now, what do you do?
Again keep your wrists straight as not to make a bigger
problem. Find ways to hold your instrument that will help to
keep your wrist straight. Tilt your guitar, try light gauge
strings so you don't have to apply so much pressure. Lower your
elbow on you fretting arm and see what happens. Avoid
playing when you have swelling. Ask your doctor about medicines
that reduce swelling. The key here is to learn all that you can
to keep this from happening to you or to better work around it if
you have one or both of these conditions already.
Bluegrass music is
exciting to listen to. It has a drive and a punch that will
make your heart speed up with excitement much like a brisk walk or a good laugh. It feels to me like a ride
might feel in a fighter
jet. Notes can become fast and many times, short lived.
This is all part of controlling the effect. A slow song with heavy
accents can be as powerful as a hard driving fast song.
In this lesson, I want to show you a
few things that you can practice to add effects to your music.
Let's look at the bass fiddle; on my bass
fiddle page, I said that the bass fiddle for bluegrass is played
with a 1,2,1,2 pattern. I talked about deadening each note
just before going into the next note. This is a great effect that
will add punch to the music. On the other hand, sometimes it is good
to add a different sound. Think about a piano and how it
sounds when everything is played with the sustain peddle down. All
of the notes run all over the top of each other and sounds like a
mess. This is not what I am referring to. On the bass,
you can let the 1 run all over the 2 but kill the 2 before repeating
the 2. Also kill all of the sound before moving to the next
chord. This gives a full sound under all of the rest of the
music. Then when the song is ready, you can go back to
the 1,2,1,2 pattern. Many songs may only use one pattern
or the other. In some songs you can switch back and forth as
needed to add dynamics or effect. One example might be to play
the 1,2,1,2 pattern in the verse and the long held note in the
chorus. Listen to my example.
Let's look at the other
instruments. A fiddle generally holds notes anyway, but the
same idea works with the other instruments. The idea here is
to hold a chord and pick out the notes, while letting all of the
strings ring as long as you can, before another note is required.
If you practice this, you will be using this technique
naturally. Listen to the guitar.
Listen to the
banjo. These are intended to be
exercises rather than parts of songs. One of the
best musicians to do this on the mandolin plays for Nickel
Warren Yates Method of Playing Bluegrass Banjo for Beginners
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