Upright players will be more prone to have stiffness and tightness in the neck musculature due to the head moving in time with the music and leaning forward to read charts and/or to look at the neck or a conductor while playing. This can lead to soreness of these muscles and often to a pinched nerve. While not always available in an orchestral setting, it is best to have one's own music stand to avoid unnecessary strain while transitioning between these places.
Body weight should be evenly distributed so that it can be shifted as needed to aid the right or left hand. The instrument should be balanced against you so that it can stand without the aid of the left hand (all assuming you are right handed). If the weight of the body is all on the right side the left hand will have no power and vice versa.
When playing the upright, the vibrato should come from the elbow, not the wrist. The hand and arm should act as one in an involuntary motion, using the elbow as a support. The full arm vibrato is a sideways motion and if the hand begins to roll in you will not be able to generate the force required to press the string down. Keeping this in mind can help you to avoid wrist problems.
Make sure the peg height is set correctly so that you don't have to alter your posture, any more than is absolutely necessary to compensate for tight musculature from an uncomfortable stance. This alone can cause you discomfort anywhere in your back which can lead to other areas as the body compensates to try and lighten the load.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Upright Bass Health Tips from Randy Kertz
The new issue of the online magazine Bass Musician Magazine has an article by bassist/physician Randy Kertz. Dr. Kertz has written an excellent book on bass playing and health. His current article is specific to the upright bassist: