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Aria

Looking for advice...

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Hi all...

I have been a very serious musician all of my life, and burned out about 2 years ago. I stopped playing music entirely (piano/violin) for a good year, but have recently decided to get back into it. I've picked up my violin a few times and practiced for about an hour yesterday, but today my shoulders are hurting when I move my arms in any direction (bow arm is worse than the other). What gives?!

I played my violin for several hours at a time (for a few weeks, off and on) in December 2003, and didn't have any problems. I've never felt anything like this before and am a bit worried. Thoughts? I must have irritated them, but it shouldn't happen after only one hour, or?! I mean, I wasn't playing Sibelius! Just normal scales and etudes. :-(

Have any of you ever stopped for a good length of time? How did you get back into it? Anything I should watch out for? I'm open for tips.

Thanks for your input.

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I stopped for 25 years. What you have to remember is that when you are not playing, certain muscles are on vacation. You have to ease into it. Also, you need to be sure that you are not doing something differently (and wrong) from when you stopped. The fact that you could play for hours with no problem before you stopped does not mean that you can just pick up where you left off, any more than when I do not work out at the gym for a while I can just go back and expect to be able to lift the same amount of weight or run as far as fast without working up to it.

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...I agree with thom and eyes...plus, based on personal experience...maybe you should try easing back into it without a rest - or with a rest...depending on what you find more comfortable. When I tried to play with the rest I got so sore I couldn't play more than 10 min. without breaking...

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There was a point where I played minimally (1/2 - 1 hour/day) for a couple of years while I worked in a non-musical field, and then took a week off from the non-musical work to practice intensively, focusing on practicing scales, technique, etc. I found that my muscles were sore just as if I had gone to the gym for some unaccustomed exercise. I remember the muscles along my sides (upper ribs) just under my arms being particularly sore. It went away after a few days, but I was really surprised at the muscles I was using to play -- something I hadn't noticed when practicing regularly.

Soreness in the shoulders though, if it's in the joints rather than muscles, may indicate tension -- I sometimes have shoulder pain and it's usually when I'm doing a lot of work at the frog and being too tense while doing that. I think that falls into the category of doing something the wrong way.

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Never, NEVER play against pain. It has taken me 5 years to adjust to what I did to myself when I took up playing after a long (20 year) break. Ice your shoulders now, and don't play until they feel almost normal. Then start with 5-10 minutes and put your violin away. Build up in time every other day or so, adding 5 minutes each time. When you can play comfortably for 1/2 hour, do so every day for a while, then add 10 minutes again. If you aren't comfortable, stop. Keep us posted.

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Thank you all for your replies. I still don't know exactly what is wrong, but will take your advice to lay off/take it easy for awhile and ease back into playing. It feels a bit better tonight - perhaps I just overdid it. Seems strange, though.

I have had soreness in my muscles at times, getting back into playing, but this is something different, as one of you mentioned - like in the shoulder joint/arm socket, on the backside. It's in the same place on both arms, though far more intense on the right side.

Probably I just stressed something. :-) I had horrible imaginations last night when I felt the pain, of not being able to play anymore for some reason (not in my power) and never having music in my life again - lol. It was then when I realized how much I really do value my skill as a violinist, what being able to play music meant to me, and how much it defines me as a person. Thanks to all of you for your reassurance. I'll keep ya posted!

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I too am a recently returning to the fold after a much extended absense from the viola. For the first week, even playing for an hour would result in mucho pain in my right shoulder and all up and down my left arm...followed by an extremely long nap. And yes, these were just scales.

I didn't worry about it too much (despite my history with tendonitis) figuring that it was just fatigue from my muscles being used in a way that they hadn't been in several years. So, I just continued to practice, ignored the pain, and kept to my hour-a-day-nothing-but-scales regimine. After a week or so the pain disappeared and the naps became a little shorter.

You'll probably notice that after a while of practicing and using the muscles regularly the pain will go away. But, at the same time, while practicing you should be mindful of your technique so that you can avoid creating bad habits (which can sometimes happen after a period of not playing) which could cause more serious problems down the line.

But remember: No Sibelius...at least not for the first two weeks.

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Thanks very much for your thoughts and sharing your experience with me - it's good reassurance.

I cut back on my practice time, and after a day or so, the pain went away. I'm practicing in more frequent, shorter segments until I get used to everything again. And, of course, I'm watching closely for tension or bad habits. So far so good.

I'm taking it easy with solid scale and etude regimen and, oh yes... only the SCALE passages of the Sibelius.

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You can't run a marathon without training, so I agree with everyone else here and urge you to ease into it more slowly. You might also try some other way of gaining back the strength and endurance in those muscles. Try some weights or even just some aerobics that emphasize arm movements. If anything continues to hurt try some massage therapy.

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I read a advice from someone sometime ago.

He said " stop as soon as you feel the first sign of pain "

It means it is time to take a long break and return when

you are completely feel relaxed.

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