Bassists, we all know the story. If you don’t, you’re doing something right. It’s Friday night, you’re sitting in what seems like your hundredth rehearsal this week and you’d rather be out with your friends like you promised them. And you feel sore in places like your shoulder and your back. You’ve been meaning to do something about it but, being a university student studying music or a professional doing things that fill up their day, you’ve either had no time or no energy to do anything about it or you’ve simply brushed it off when you go to sleep every night hoping it would be gone by the morning. And that’s just rehearsals. We’ve got to get there in the first place and get back home. No-one else does that? Just me? Well don’t worry because, from one bassist to another, there are things that we can do to wherever we are to help us cope with and lessen the pain. And I’m not talking about drowning yourself in alcohol.
Ok. First thing’s first. Your hands. Your hands are probably the most important things you’ll ever need for playing bass because, well, that’s what you use for playing bass. (Yes. Brilliant observation, Sherlock). Why the concern with the hands? If you play 6 days a week like I do, you’ll most likely get blisters on 2 or more of your fingers and pains in your hands and wrists and shoulders. And it sucks. If you don’t get that, you’re doing something right. If you are getting persistent pains and blisters, all hope is not lost and there are things that you can do to help yourself. Yay! First thing you can do is, while practicing, take regular breaks. That’s it! Not every 5 minutes like I do but every 30-45 minutes or so. (Just joking I don’t do that). It may seem silly but it helps. It stops your body from getting overused and getting sore. Don’t believe me? The Sydney Morning Herald published an article that back that up. I have the links at the very end (yes the very end) which you can use to validate everything I’m saying and not make me sound like a senile university student who’s had one to many drinks.
Next is your shoulders and back. When I carry my bass around between rehearsals, people always say “That’s a big instrument” and I always say “yeah it’s like carrying another person with you”. Am I not wrong?
Imagine playing something like that for hours a day. And yes. That is me. So glamorous I know. (Just joking). Apart from taking breaks from practicing every 30-60 minutes or so, take the time out to stretch out joints around your body. I’m not talking about stretching yourself to Olympic-level flexibility though that would be impressive. I have another link to a site called: music-theory-for-musicians.com in case you guys still think I’m crazy. You can stretch your arms out by standing in a doorway, putting your forearm flat against one of the edges and lean forward slightly. You can do this to the other side as well as doing them from both sides. This also works with your arm out straight and against a door as well.
Careful not to overdo it though because you could do more damage than good. And it would probably hurt more. There are plenty of other stretches that you guys can try and I’ll link them down below from musicnotes.com. Stretching helps blood flow to your limbs and helps them get around your instruments better as well so it’s great. And I got everyone’s best friend wikipedia to back me up down below.
Last thing before everyone leaves, there’s one more thing everyone can do that will help with not being sore. If there are people who have rehearsals 4-6 days a week like me as well as assignments and work outside university, everything can become overwhelming. There are still things that you guys (and me) can do. Long story short, have a good balance between different elements in your life. Yes, I know but I kid you not. Working most of your days will eventually drive you insane if you don’t take a break from it all. This kind of draws from the point I made earlier but hear me out guys. Basically, know what your priorities are and set boundaries for yourself so that you don’t overworking yourself too much. If you still think I’m ranting on, there’s a link at the bottom with more stuff which you guys could check out.
In all seriousness though, we need to take care of our bodies because, without our bodies being in good condition in the long run, we won’t be able to play our instruments. I hope that, with this blog, I can get this message across to more bassists (and more musicians) and hopefully it’ll help them because bassists are important. Now before the rest of y’all come after me, you guys are important as well; these things here can be used by everyone, not just for bassists so don’t lose hope. I hope that this can get to as many people as possible because I think that, as musicians, we should have each other’s backs (not literally) and help each other out. If you guys want me to do more blogs on stuff like this, just comment below and I’ll see want I can do and I’ll add blog writing to my career possibilities as well as performing and possibly teaching.
Well that’s all I have to say. Hopefully I’ll see you guys next time!
PS. Here’s my reference list y’all in case you think I’m crazy:
Wikipedia. (2016). Stretching. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stretching
Phillips, Nicki. (2012, August 16). Taking a break is the secret to success. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/taking-a-break-is-secret-to-success-20120815-24951.html
Boulvare, John. (n.d.). Warming up before music practice. Retrieved from: http://www.music-theory-for-musicians.com/music-practice-warm-ups.html
musicnotes.com, (2014, June 17). Our Go-To Routine: 10 essential stretches for Musicians (Blog Post). Retrieved from http://www.musicnotes.com/blog/2014/06/17/stretches-for-musicians/
Hereford, Z. (n.d.). 5 Tips for a well-balanced life (Blog Post). Retrieved from http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/wellbalancedlife.html
Cook, N. (1998). Music: A Very Short Introduction. United States: Oxford University Press