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Playing Tips

Avoiding Tendinitis

Having dealt with tendinitis over the years, I'm acutely aware of the need for a proper warm-up routine prior to playing. Countless well-intentioned players have incurred catastrophic (i.e., career-ending/worship ministry-ending) damage to arms and hands by neglecting to get a little blood flowing prior to commencing upon a bombastic musical excursion. I was perilously close to being one of them, and it is my profound desire that you might learn from my mistakes!

Two of the most effective & easy warm-ups are:

  1. With palms facing up, bend each consecutive fingertip (one at a time) up and touch it to your palm (looks a bit like Spider-Man's hand position when shooting web, for those who need a visual!). The movement should be primarily limited to the joint where the fingers attach to the hand, with the fingers being held relatively straight for most of the motion.

  2. Again with palms facing up, bring your fingers up in pairs (first the 1st & 3rd fingers, then the 2nd & 4th, alternating back and forth) and use your thumbs to briefly hold them to their respective palms (hey, THERE'S a band name: The Respective Palms!). With each pair of fingers, stretch the 2 extended fingers (the ones not being held down by the thumb) away from your palms for a moment. Then switch to the other pair and repeat. I first heard of this stretch through Stu Hamm, and I believe he got it from studio bass pioneer Carol Kaye. It works fantastically.

Both of these stretching exercises can be done during the commute to your gig (one hand at a time while driving, of course!) so you'll be warmed up & ready to shake the rafters immediately upon plugging into your amp at the venue.

[Excerpted from “Bassic Communication”, Christian Musician magazine (Jan/Feb 2003). Reprinted by permission.]

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