Jump to content


Photo

How do you cope with sensitive, sore or painful fingers?

sore fingers bleeding fingers remedies fixes coping with harp players string players

  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 01 May 2015 - 10:29

Sensitive and sore fingers are every harpist, guitarist and string players nightmare. My harp is strung with metal, gut and nylon strings. The gut and metal strings present no real problem, it's the nylon strings in the top - the shortest and thinnest strings. ;-(

I practice for forty minutes twice a day most days an my fingers are fine but now with having to play three octave scales and my Pozzoli Study that uses the top register of the harp where the nylon strings are like razor blades - it's a whole new ball park.

I reach down into the base to start the scales and arpeggios so they are not such a problem - it's the Pozzoli study that causes the most problem. After a very short time - a few minutes playing the top notes, I have to stop which is a pity because its where I really need the practice at the moment.

Any tips on keeping finger tips in good shape and preventing those very sensitive fingers becoming painful? I have heard some professional harpists play with bleeding fingers. Ouch! I never want to get to that point.
  • 0

#2 Collyermum

Collyermum

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 352 posts
  • Member: 68406
    Joined: 18-June 09
  • North-east

Posted 01 May 2015 - 11:28

Um...yes you are right! Although I find the metal bass strings start to hurt my left hand 4th finger if I'm practising that a lot!

 

Obviously practice is the key - in small doses - your fingers do eventually (1-3 months-ish) get used to it! 

 

In the meantime if they get really sore, the "new skin" stuff is pretty good and the only thing I have found that gives me enough sensitivity to still be able to play.

 

The perils of being a harpist :-)  But I'm quite proud of my callouses. I like to wonder what a pathologist looking at my murdered body would make of [email protected]


  • 0

#3 GMc

GMc

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1076 posts
  • Member: 322722
    Joined: 27-September 11

Posted 01 May 2015 - 12:25

Various countries like different remedies for this.  Dipping in lemon juice for Italians, some homeopathic ointment for the French, methylated spirits for a number.  Papaya ointment was de rigour for a bit here.   If things got bad DD used to use extra thin duoderm stretched over the sore bit and wrapped around on itself over the nail - it doesn't change your sound like bandaids do.  This is an expensive remedy (unless you can pick up offcuts at work) and one bit only lasts an hour or so but invaluable for long ensemble and orchestra work.  Don't gliss - use a pick until better or just keep finger for performance.  Now only bothers her if playing for hours after a break.  I too was astounded the first time I saw someone play with bleeding blisters taped up....its like ballerinas only more visible...


  • 0

#4 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 01 May 2015 - 13:02

I have a roll of micropore which helps and lasts a fair time when practicing.

My worst ever finger injury so far was a broken nail that tore into the flesh at the top of my finger. It took ages to heal but I managed daily practice and lessons taped up with micropore till it healed.

Fingers.......a small nick in the kitchen can be a nuisance. Before my exam I was ultra careful with knives and bought a pack of nail files and placed a nail file in each room for that instant repair of a small nail defect that can tear into the skin. After a year of playing the harp I haven't earned my callouses yet - perhaps I'll be awarded some for Christmas this year! My teacher says they are an invaluable asset.

Off to research duoderm!
  • 0

#5 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 01 May 2015 - 13:11

Um...yes you are right! Although I find the metal bass strings start to hurt my left hand 4th finger if I'm practising that a lot!
 
Obviously practice is the key - in small doses - your fingers do eventually (1-3 months-ish) get used to it! 
 
In the meantime if they get really sore, the "new skin" stuff is pretty good and the only thing I have found that gives me enough sensitivity to still be able to play.
 
The perils of being a harpist :-)  But I'm quite proud of my callouses. I like to wonder what a pathologist looking at my murdered body would make of [email protected]


It's like earning your stripes!

I do practice in small does especially on the nylon strings. Yesterday I tried several ways to do a gliss for one of my pieces - but thought better wait for my next lesson for advice. Is it acceptable to use a plectrum - didn't think so! There is no where to put one and it's impossible to have one in your hand while playing. There's no time to pick one up and replace it whilst playing either.

Might be getting a travel harp tomorrow! ;-) Might also get a chance to play a Monarch! ;-))
  • 0

#6 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 01 May 2015 - 16:52

GMc, About Duoderm.........,

I see there are many different sizes and shapes. Can you tell me if there is a dressing patch on the Duoderm or is it just the same all over. Not sure that's expressed clearly. It's expensive so we won't buy more than packet to try out - which one would you reccommend.

If I bought a big plaster could I cut it up and put it directly on a finger tip? Is it self adhesive?

The lemon and spirits dry the skin out hastening callouses so I'll be doing that daily at night, just finger tips!
  • 0

#7 soccermom

soccermom

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1665 posts
  • Member: 9005
    Joined: 12-January 07
  • South West Surrey

Posted 02 May 2015 - 09:47

My daughter has suffered from bleeding fingers from blisters, but only when she has bursts of long practices after having not done much in the preceding weeks.  I think she had to take her last exam in this state...

 

I hadn't realised nylon strings were worse.   Fortunately she doesn't have any of those.


  • 0

#8 soccermom

soccermom

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1665 posts
  • Member: 9005
    Joined: 12-January 07
  • South West Surrey

Posted 02 May 2015 - 09:49

Just a thought: is there any reason why you couldn't replace the nylon strings at the top with gut ones?


  • 0

#9 fied

fied

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 215 posts
  • Member: 383974
    Joined: 06-January 12
  • Scotland

Posted 02 May 2015 - 11:42

 

If I bought a big plaster could I cut it up and put it directly on a finger tip? Is it self adhesive?

 

Yes, it can be cut to shape and applied and it's self-adhesive, which cuts down on the cost a bit.

 

I only use it if I'm going to be practicing for an hour or more. It only lasts about that long, anyway.


  • 0

#10 GMc

GMc

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1076 posts
  • Member: 322722
    Joined: 27-September 11

Posted 02 May 2015 - 13:07

I paid about $30 for 5 bits of extra thin in a packet and they have lasted about 6 years so far. I got caught at a harp camp in middle of nowhere so couldnt use the plastic surgeons offcuts that are thrown away at work. Yes, you cut strips off and wiggle to get the backing off. Then stretch it as you apply it to make it even thinner and wrap the self adhesive ends over each other on the nail side to hold it firmly. At one point my then 8 year old had about 6 fingers wrapped up to get through long rehearsals with spares on her stand for when they fell off. If you suddenly go from 20 mins a day to hours you have to do something unless you are very good with pain.
  • 0

#11 Pickle

Pickle

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 37 posts
  • Member: 578811
    Joined: 20-November 12

Posted 03 May 2015 - 20:34

I use a thin film of super glue over the painful area. The downside is, you can't remove it after practice, and it looks a bit unsightly, but it works for me.


  • 0

#12 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 03 May 2015 - 22:01

If you suddenly go from 20 mins a day to hours you have to do something unless you are very good with pain.


I need to increase my practice time - and I'm not very good with pain!

I do regular practice most days at least 6 out of 7days a week. Every now and then it's impossible to play for a day or two it takes time for fingers to re-acclimatise.

I have the stamina to play for much longer and did so as preparation for G2 practical so its a pity my fingers shorten the practice time
for the G3 study. I'm going to buy the Duoderm and use it to prevent problems and where necessary resort to super glue
Thanks Fied, Soccermum, Pickle and GMc for your input - finger are a sensitive subject.

Soccermum - I'll investigate gut strings for the top octaves. I hope they are available - prefer the gut strings.
  • 0

#13 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 09 May 2015 - 17:38

Hello fellow Harpists.........

Silly me, I chose Alpine Waltz as part of my Grade 3 set pieces. I didn't look at the score and appreciate the pain eight glissandos could cause. Any tips for doing pain-free glissandos are most welcome. My poor index finger, right hand, skin has sworn off. I wrapped the finger in Duoderm but still feel it when playing my pieces and in particular the now dreaded glissandos. I'm seriously thinking of choosing another piece.
  • 0

#14 erard

erard

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 619 posts
  • Member: 716
    Joined: 09-March 04

Posted 10 May 2015 - 12:05

Things you can resort to:

Don't play them with cold hands, warm up properly first

Train your fingers and harden the skin by glissing to the point of tenderness several times a day, but not to the point of blisters

Tone the volume down in practice when needed and not actually practicing for the tone of the glisses

Learn to gliss with different fingers so that the work is spread around and the index finger doesn't take it all

-you may sometimes want the sound of glissing with two fingers together

Turn your fingers so the gliss contact point is at the tip or far side and damage or pain does not interfere with other playing

 

In a solo there is rarely time to use the felt picks I sometimes find helpful for orchestral playing


  • 0

#15 Angel14

Angel14

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 137 posts
  • Member: 893020
    Joined: 28-February 15

Posted 10 May 2015 - 23:37

Thanks Erard.....that's sound advice and already in practice from today.

I used a different part of my finger gor glisses today and think its worth training third and fourth fingers to take some of strain. I'll investigate a felt pick and see if its at all possible to use in the piece.

I guess we have to be ready to adapt playing techniques depending on minor hand injuries. Back to practice!
  • 0





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: sore fingers, bleeding fingers, remedies, fixes, coping with, harp players, string players