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Tendonitis is not nice. But we need to be nice to each other about it.

It has been my experience that when a musician develops tendonitis there is a tendency to blame the instrument, blame the technique or shame the individual as not "doing it right" or they would not have a problem. These approaches need to stop. Tendonitis is devastating to a musician. I should know, I have had it and now it is a constant thing I have to be careful of and manage, in order to pursue my art.

Tendonitis is inflamed tendons and any tendon can be inflamed. Some people are more prone to it than others. No matter how much relaxation or rigorous technique will counteract the effect of lots of repetitive motion on inflamed tissue. What the musician dealing with tendonitis needs is to learn are exercises to counteract the repetitive motion. Lower the inflammation levels, and learn how to more effectively deal with stress. Th instrument is not to blame, the literature is not to blame, it is inflammation that is the real enemy.

Guess what? Stress causes inflammation, as well as poor diet, these things could be leading to pain no matter how good your technique is. Other things can lead to pain as well such as underlying health conditions or congenital conditions. Not everyone is made the same. Some people have naturally smaller carpel tunnels. So, a small amount of inflammation effects these people more. I have Hashimoto's, a thyroid condition that is caused by my immune system attacking my thyroid. A side effect of this condition is a tendency towards tendonitis that is made worse by the following: Heat, stress, and overwork. So, putting me on a stage and putting me through performance is going to increase my inflammation. It is something I have had to learn to manage. Guess what the number one management tool has been? Good technique. Good technique, no matter which brand you subscribe to, will get you through. The practice spent on slow, careful, relaxed study will help. The harp helps my hands. I use my playing as a diagnostic for how in control my condition is. Another thing that helps? Stress release! Having fun, not working all the time, a little break now and then.

I am not a medical professional, I am a harpist. A doctor of playing the harp. These are all observations I have made in my life of 40 years of playing the harp. Let us stop the blame and shame game and look at tendonitis as a symptom of an overloaded system rather than a flaw in the person, the technique or the repertoire. Thank you all for your time.



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