Musical Musings

Sharing musical thoughts and ideas.

Technique and the study of an instrument

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 by Paula Augustine | Study

People who play musical instruments can develop habits which may cause injury after repeated use. I personally experienced tendonitis in both elbows, which I attribute to improper flute playing for years. Thankfully, today much study has been done and there are teachers who have come up with systems to help teach technique and good habits. The best habit is to play without unnecessary or bad tension.

It is difficult in the short 30 minutes a week I have with students to address all technical issues and we do not want to just bog down on the tension in the body! Our bodies are wonderfully designed to adjust as changes are made and heal when necessary. As seen in the videos below, Dorothy Taubman was able to help professional musicians in 10 minutes! I try to offer a balance of picking on the small technical issues and teaching good techniques while still letting the student play and have fun at the piano. The main reason the student comes each week to piano lessons is to play!

Ultimately, students will develop their habits and some habits will help them while other habits will not. It is up to the student to understand as they are able, what habits are helping and what habits they need to change. 

Continuing with my tendonitis story, I can now play my flute without pain. I did have to give time for the tendonitis to heal and I did physical therapy with a professional. But, ultimately I needed to find those habits that were causing unnecessary and bad tension in my body and change my habits so I could play again.

Below are two short videos giving a simple overview of two schools of systems on teaching to prevent injury and help those who experience injuries.