Brother In Arms

Guitar Techniques - - Front Page -

I’m 63 and have played gui­tar, keys and brass since teenage years, to home am­a­teur stan­dard, and played in bands in my late teens and early 20s. GT has been my go-to gui­tar mag­a­zine for many years. It’s a won­der­ful idea that’s grown and de­vel­oped into the best tu­ition aid for gui­tar in the world. Con­grat­u­la­tions on be­ing in­volved in it and help­ing to make it what it is.

In Septem­ber on hol­i­day I had a bad bi­cy­cle ac­ci­dent: badly bruised and lac­er­ated hands, bro­ken right fore­arm, mul­ti­ple frac­ture el­bow, bro­ken ribs and gen­eral bash­ing and cuts else­where. Right now I can hold the gui­tar semi-ap­pro­pri­ately and make plink­ing noises. I have not writ­ten in for sym­pa­thy, although I’m sure that your team, and most other play­ers out there, would sym­pa­thise with my predica­ment. My rea­son for writ­ing in is the re­hab process and re­learn­ing how to play. I’ve started phys­io­ther­apy and that’s great. My pot comes off next week. The physio ex­er­cises are all about get­ting back mus­cle tone, ten­don and joint ar­tic­u­la­tion and ex­ten­sion. With re­gard to all the fine mo­tor skills re­quired for play­ing mu­si­cal in­stru­ments all the ad­vice is about.... Well, just play... but don’t overdo it. Is there any more spe­cific knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence out there you could guide me to. I seem to re­mem­ber a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence hap­pened to one of your team. As a con­se­quence you printed some ex­er­cises mu­sic and tab some time ago. I shall be dig­ging this out when my pot comes off.

How about a more in depth ar­ti­cle, or se­ries even, on re­cov­ery and ex­er­cises for us gui­tar play­ers. I bet there’s lots of peo­ple who take GT who have had sim­i­lar mis­for­tune and would wel­come such an ar­ti­cle. Fur­ther­more in com­mis­sion­ing and re­search­ing such an en­deav­our you may be able to dis­cover and dis­sem­i­nate who the spe­cial­ists in­volved are and the spe­cial­ist con­sen­sus ad­vice re­gard­ing spe­cific re­cov­ery ex­er­cise might be for us gui­tar play­ers. Peter Mod­ern, Read, Lan­cashire That sounds like a real night­mare, Peter. I’m glad you’re on the road to re­cov­ery, at least. It’s rather scary for a non-med­i­cal mag­a­zine like GT to of­fer what re­ally is bona-fide med­i­cal ad­vice, so I’m go­ing to sim­ply sug­gest you speak to your phys­io­ther­a­pist a lit­tle more deeply about your mu­sic – maybe even take your gui­tar along and show him or her how you play. It might be that there’s spe­cific ad­vice about us­ing the gui­tar as phys­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion – things to do and things to avoid (that four-fret bend, for in­stance).

The in­ci­dent you re­call is when Ja­son Sid­well fell and hurt his fret­ting hand badly – he de­vised his own pro­gres­sive set of ex­er­cises and his play­ing is now fully back its nor­mal (scary) level. It was th­ese ex­er­cises we printed in GT218. But also, many years ago, a friend of mine se­ri­ously dam­aged his hand – in­clud­ing bones and ten­dons – on a cir­cu­lar saw. He lost all feel­ing in it, and would drop pints of beer be­cause he couldn’t feel the glass in his fin­gers; or would smell ‘cook­ing’ and re­alise his cig­a­rette had burnt down to the stub and was melt­ing his flesh! When his doc­tors dis­cov­ered he played gui­tar they said it was bril­liant nat­u­ral re­hab; and although it took him time he did get back to play­ing and re­gained much of his fa­cil­ity when the nerves and ten­dons knit­ted back and the mus­cles re­gained strength.

There are var­i­ous hand-held train­ing de­vices that prom­ise mir­a­cle cures for ev­ery­thing from carpal tun­nel syn­drome to shat­tered bones after an ac­ci­dent. We’re not here to of­fer rec­om­men­da­tion but it might be worth chat­ting to your physio about th­ese to see what he or she thinks; and whether a com­bi­na­tion of ex­er­cises, gui­tar play­ing and a de­vice like a Powerball might speed things along. I’d love to be able to wave a magic wand over your in­juries. Un­for­tu­nately I can’t, but I’m sure a com­bined regime with gui­tar (and pos­si­bly other in­stru­ments you play that ex­er­cise dif­fer­ent mus­cle groups) at the cen­tre of it would make your phys­i­cal re­hab a far more re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

We do have many doc­tor read­ers of GT, so I won­der if one of them might write in with some med­i­cally sound ad­vice. Most of all, good luck and we all hope you get back to play­ing soon!

Any pro­fes­sion­als out there with some in­jury re­hab ad­vice for Peter?

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