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Hochapeafarm
01-28-2013, 09:34 PM
Hi, everybody! I would love some feedback about how you deal with playing with and/or through pain. I've been playing about a year or so and play about about 1-1.5 hrs a day (wish I could play longer!). While I have callouses on the tips of my fingers, after playing about 45 minutes, my fingertips start hurting. I know that I tend to press too hard on my strings, so I've been trying to RELAX on that, but sometimes I get so focused, I forget to just breathe, if that makes sense. My thumb also tends to get sore from my "death grip," too, on the neck, but I am hoping that with the installation of new strap buttons and a new strap, this will help my thumb pain situation. Suffice to say, I would imagine that I need to get thicker callouses, which will (hopefully!) come with more playing time, I suppose. In the meantime, when my chord fingertips hurt, I just practice finger picking and strumming without making chords. I would love to hear how others work with/through these issues. Thanks so much for your feedback!

Brad Bordessa
01-28-2013, 10:12 PM
Technique is not something you should have to "deal" with. Fix it and you won't have to worry about playing in pain at all. It sounds like you are doing something wrong and you know what it is (which is great!). I recommend really exploring the moves your hands make when you play. Examine exactly how you move. Explore what is the least amount of pressure you need to make a note clear. Pick a steady muted beat on one of the strings and with your left hand slowly add pressure until your finger goes from muting the note to buzzing to clean then slowly let off the pressure. Find the clear position just past the buzz. This is how hard you want to press for all of your notes.

Get a teacher (a good one) who can help you correct your bad habits.

Check the action on your 'ukulele. It's possible that it's really high and making you work harder than you should.

The keyword here is "efficiency." Find it and you will play with much less effort.

Mercury
01-28-2013, 11:05 PM
Hi, everybody! I would love some feedback about how you deal with playing with and/or through pain. I've been playing about a year or so and play about about 1-1.5 hrs a day (wish I could play longer!). While I have callouses on the tips of my fingers, after playing about 45 minutes, my fingertips start hurting. I know that I tend to press too hard on my strings, so I've been trying to RELAX on that, but sometimes I get so focused, I forget to just breathe, if that makes sense. My thumb also tends to get sore from my "death grip," too, on the neck, but I am hoping that with the installation of new strap buttons and a new strap, this will help my thumb pain situation. Suffice to say, I would imagine that I need to get thicker callouses, which will (hopefully!) come with more playing time, I suppose. In the meantime, when my chord fingertips hurt, I just practice finger picking and strumming without making chords. I would love to hear how others work with/through these issues. Thanks so much for your feedback!
To correct the death grip and sore finger tips slow down your playing as much as possible, which will relax your hand an help develop a light touch (a.k.a efficiency). Once you're playing slowly and with a light touch steadily pick up the tempo of your practice by about 5% every day, by using a metronome. If you feel the death grip/soreness coming back after reaching a certain speed, back down to just below that level. Rinse and repeat as necessary, but it shouldn't take too long to achieve satisfactory results if you're practicing for as long as you say. Good luck!

Lalz
01-28-2013, 11:47 PM
Has your ukulele been properly set up? Having to press so hard that your fingdrtips hurt is often an indication of the action being to high. Have it lowered and your uke should play like butter, if that's what the problem is.
Don't take pain lightly, it's your body's way of telling you that something is wrong and there's the risk of developing carpel tunnel syndrome if you overdo it.

Louis0815
01-29-2013, 12:12 AM
When you talk about "death grip" of left hand I get the impression you might need to improve the uke's position in general. It should somehow rest in the crouch of your right elbow, your right forearm pressing it lightly against your chest (hard enough to roughly keep it from falling down). Actually it should be possible to hold a soprano uke with the right hand only, giving lots of freedom to the left hand which is just slightly supporting the neck. Sure, using a strap helps fixing the uke - but as said before: get the basics right and cure the root cause, not the symptoms. It will pay off in the long run.

pulelehua
01-29-2013, 12:41 AM
If you experience muscular/joint pain, continuing through it is not the way to go. You will cement bad habits and possibly cause genuine damage to yourself. Callouses are a different thing entirely. If you have internal pain, a simple thing to do is to simply stop and shake out your hand. Flex it. Move it. If it hurts, don't continue playing. Go through the pieces you're working on and try to work out how much movement they have in them. Some pieces simply involve keeping your hand in a flexed position for a prolonged time, which accentuates whatever issues there are. The more you keep your fretting hand moving, the more you will develop both strength and flexibility.

As for fingertip pain, look at how your fingers are pressing down the strings. The thickness of the pad on your fingers varies enormously. Sometimes people experience pain simply because they are pressing too close to the nail or to the side of their finger.

Try to watch yourself play. Or better, get someone who teaches to watch you play. Even if it's just once, they'll be able to give you some basics.

foxisaac
01-29-2013, 12:46 AM
Slowing down and focusing is the way to do it, a lighter touch will help improve your speed too, my fingertips get sore too, often from barre chords.

mm stan
01-29-2013, 05:02 AM
Try playing with a pinch nerve pain like me, Almost cannot even focus...and tears come down when I cannot even focus..
Best to start off with a soprano and Try getting a set up and dropping the action and low tension strings..then you can
focus on the right pressure for fretting, rhythm and tempo....Good Luck and Happy Strummings....

PhilUSAFRet
01-29-2013, 08:26 AM
It's become a playing "habit." Like any other bad habit, you have to practice the new habit of proper grip and fingering until it feels "normal", just as you did the bad habit. Sorry, no other way but do practice doing it correctly.

stevepetergal
01-29-2013, 09:02 AM
Technique is not something you should have to "deal" with. Fix it and you won't have to worry about playing in pain at all. It sounds like you are doing something wrong and you know what it is (which is great!). I recommend really exploring the moves your hands make when you play. Examine exactly how you move. Explore what is the least amount of pressure you need to make a note clear. Pick a steady muted beat on one of the strings and with your left hand slowly add pressure until your finger goes from muting the note to buzzing to clean then slowly let off the pressure. Find the clear position just past the buzz. This is how hard you want to press for all of your notes.

Get a teacher (a good one) who can help you correct your bad habits.

Check the action on your 'ukulele. It's possible that it's really high and making you work harder than you should.

The keyword here is "efficiency." Find it and you will play with much less effort.

I concur with everything Brad recommends. Please, don't skip the "Get a teacher" step.

The one thing I would add is this. You say you get to focused and start gripping the neck and fretting with too much pressure. This is what you do when you lose focus. Your focus, at this point, must be on technique. Not on speed or volume.

I often say practice, practice, practice. But there's a big difference between practicing and playing. That's what all these responses are getting at. Stop playing 1-1.5 hours a day, and you'll accomplish much more practicing for twenty minutes.

Hochapeafarm
01-29-2013, 11:05 AM
Many thanks to everyone for their suggestions, help, advice...so much appreciated! I do have a teacher...well, more of a coach that I have been "checking in" with the past three months , otherwise I'm self-taught. And yes, I realize that bad habits tend to develop more so without the help of a consistent teacher -- I had years of music lessons on clarinet so I understand all too well what folks are telling me there on that. As a few others pointed out, I do also think that I need to look into the action being lowered. I say this because, on my concert uke, I don't have any pain at all when I play, no matter how long I play. Granted, it's my novice eye examining things here, but the action does appear lower than my tenor uke. Thank you so much again, everyone, for your help. :)