The hazards of making a living with your hands

Something interesting about working as a piano accompanist was that I had to take good care of my hands and arms. Most of my adult life, I've made a living with my brain, which means I could technically work even if I was sick or, hypothetically, had a broken arm. If I could think and talk, I could work.

Not so with being a pianist. One time I cut my finger badly while chopping vegetables and it really hampered my ability to play. It stressed me out, even as I was so grateful it didn't happen right before a performance. I had to worry about hangnails, too-long nails, too-short nails, and any marks or cuts on my fingers, hands, and wrists. Sterling went through a biting stage a few months ago while some teeth grew in, and his favorite place to suddenly chomp down on was my arm. I think I avoided having any major indentations on me for performances, but I may have gone to practices a few times with a ring of teeth-marks up and down my arms.

As each semester wore on and I was playing and perfecting more and more pieces, I had to do my best to avoid overdoing it. But invariably, certain pieces (and their dang sixths) stretched my fingers, hands, and arms beyond their limits. My hands would get swollen and cranky but I still had to play. I got into the habit of massaging my hands whenever I was sitting or waiting somewhere, and icing them when I was at home.

The closest thing I'd experienced like this before was when I ran competitively in high school. Back then, as when I was accompanying, I'd worry about every twinge of muscle and every trip or stumble on the stairs. Because if I didn't have healthy legs, I couldn't run. And no healthy hands/arms meant I couldn't play.

Now that I'm not accompanying professionally anymore, I don't have to worry so much about my hands. It's nice to be relieved of the stress of worrying about injuries I couldn't always control. But while I don't miss the associated stress, I certainly do miss playing the piano intensively.

July 17th, outsourced

Beaverhead 55k Endurance Run race report (Jeremy)

Beaverhead 55k Endurance Run race report (Jeremy)