February 3, 2010

Thinking about injuries

In my other life, I work in ergonomics and that makes me prone to thinking about injuries, injury prevention and the development and practice of good technique. I am keenly aware of challenges to playing that may result in injury. Using good technique is about more than getting good tone - it also helps to keep you focused on playing without injury or pain.

While I’ll rail on some other day on technique at the harp, let’s focus on something far more insidious today. One thing that many people do not think about when considering their technique is the time spent away from the harp. Spending hours a day slumped over a poorly placed computer screen and keyboard, or sloped into a couch watching television can impact the time spent at the harp.

In addition, our technique must include many things beyond playing the harp. Do you spend hours a day working on your computer? Playing games? On the phone? Walking around?

All of these things have an impact on your technique. Consider this: if you work on a computer all day and practice for an hour every day, your technique at the computer has 8 times more practice (in terms of time) than your technique at the harp. Eight times! This is akin to a recent blurb I saw that reminded that, even if you spend 15 minutes a day working your abs (to get your washboard tummy back), that is a drop in the bucket compared to the 23.75 hours you spend not working your abs!

All these “mundane” activities can also cause injury – either at the harp or away from it. So be mindful of your posture and technique throughout the day and in all your activities. When speaking on the phone, keep your head up and your neck aligned. Breathe. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Stretch your body more often than you think it needs it. Use good technique when typing, or slaying monsters or slacking on the couch. Every day all the time…this will improve your technique at the harp.

Like everything you learn while playing the harp, having good general technique requires practice – so be sure to check yourself out throughout the day and use good technique for all those mundane activities. Then you’ll have that strong foundation when you sit to your harp.

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