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Thread: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

  1. #26

    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I'm almost 64 and definitely feel stiffness in my fretting hand more than I used to especially since I practice guitar and mandolin daily. I find it helps tremendously to soak my fretting hand in warm-hot water for a few minutes before I practice either instrument.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I'm the same age and in the same situation as the OP. I started playing guitar as a teenager, played some banjo too, and about twenty years ago I got hooked on the mandolin and it's been my main instrument since. After retiring seven years ago, and especially during the COVID crisis, I spent a lot of time practicing my fiddle. Only very recently I have begun to experience hand problems. General stiffness and mild aching in my right hand, but that seems to be as much a nuisance that can be alleviated with creams and rubs and occasional pills. However my left hand has VERY recently developed problems, including trigger finger in my middle finger, as well as some overall stiffness.
    (Me: Doc it hurts when I do this. Doc: Well don't that! Me: I want a second opinion. Doc: Ok you're ugly too! - Rodney Dangerfield).
    At any rate, turns out trigger finger is very much a repetitive motion condition. I have not played the fiddle in 3 weeks and it seems to have helped a lot. Maybe a little hiatus from playing is the answer.
    As for the aging part, well none of us can change that. To some extent we will all experience a decline in our abilities, musically and otherwise. While I am accepting of the fact that reality says I'm slowing down some I'll always love being able to play my instruments, even if it might be in a slightly diminished capability.
    As I've said before, when you've got that instrument in your hands and you're playing a tune you like, you've got the best seat in the house. Hearing those strings ring out never gets old, even if the person making that beautiful music does age a little each day.

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  4. #28
    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I'm also 69. I never played very fast, still don't, and never will. But there's plenty of room in the musical world for tempos between andante and allegro. I like bluegrass, old time and Irish music, but there are lots of tunes that don't need to be blazing fast.

    D.H.

  5. #29
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I appreciate what you are saying. I know it isn't easy to feel that your abilities are declining. I just try to enjoy that which I can do; play until you can play no more. The last thing I may do is pick up a mandolin and pick out a tune. Hang in there, pal!
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by FrDNicholas View Post
    I just hit my 69th birthday and my playing has gotten so sloppy. I can't hit the strings they way I used to nor can I play with any accuracy. I was never a top knot player, but it's hard letting go of what I used to be able to do. Have any of you run into this? Are there any remedies other than peaceful acceptance and resignation? Having played for 45-50 years, it's quite a jump to think of not playing any more.
    I’m 71 and I started mandolin late last year because the finger span required of a bass player has become more challenging than I can continue into the long term. I’ve not even considered [adrenalin-fueled] bluegrass, though it comes up quite often in lessons and workshops. There’s a lot of other music that’ll be well within my declining ability for a long time to come. Things that held no interest for me are abruptly more appealing!
    Last edited by Kenny; May-17-2022 at 10:06pm.
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  8. #31
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Facing same challenges, including younger siblings saying their hand arthritis is steadily gaining. I've found that any shortcuts i can do on PC (keyboard/mouse macros, especially, and good mechanical keyboard) help a lot, I'm on the computer 6+ hours/day, the Mediterranean diet seems to have some anti-inflammatory qualities too. Also try to never let my hands and forearms get cold.
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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    ... the Mediterranean diet seems to have some anti-inflammatory qualities too...
    Inflammation seems to be at the root of many, many problems. Diet and lifestyle are huge. "You are what you eat" is true. A woman I know who is a nurse and an herbalist (and a would be banjo player) was telling me yesterday that if a person is on medications (as many are as they get older), these deplete certain nutrients, and one needs to account for this. Also, most people are short certain nutrients, D3 and magnesium for instance. I think it's an important topic of individual study, and have been on a personal path of continuous improvement in this area.

    I'm in my mid sixties and do so want to have the opportunity to become a competent mandolinist.
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  10. #33
    Registered User David Rambo's Avatar
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    At 74 and fighting arthritis in fingers and thumbs, speed is not going to happen. Sometimes I'm just happy not to drop the pick! However, a band mate from many years ago told me that I didn't have to play all the notes, just the pretty ones. That advice, and a lot of Voltaren, have gotten me through a lot of long gigs. (4-5 hours)
    "Put your hands to the wood
    Touch the music put there by the summer sun and wind
    The rhythms of the rain, locked within the rings
    And let your fingers find The Music in the Wood."
    Joe Grant and Al Parrish (chorus from The Music in the Wood)

  11. #34
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Was worried about a 4 hour gig last weekend, usually I do 2-3 hours. Ended up playing it with one short break and felt good, it was a good night. A little stiff fingers the next day tho, but not bad. I was tickled.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I worry about this myself as I am 63 and care for my Dad who is 94. My fingers have kept up (for how long, I wonder.) but his have given out in a lot of ways. He is very independent for someone his age but I open cans for him and cut things for him. His violin days are behind him for sure. Play for as long as you can. I feel you play what you can feel and play with your experience driving you to the better notes rather than the fast runs, and focus on that rather than things like Rawhide that may take more skills than we're able to contribute. I remember Julius Erving playing in his later basketball games. His instinct put him in the right part of the court so that he didn't have to run as much, and he was darned effective. I think it's the same way with music.
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  14. #36

    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    What we lose in athleticism we have opportunity to gain in musicality.
    Bingo. I couldn't put it better.

    I'm facing this myself. At 64, I have "essential tremor" (harmless but annoying) that gets worse every year. It definitely affects my playing, especially right hand (and especially fingerpicking, which fortunately isn't an issue on mando.) I'm still working on speed and dexterity (always have, and never got there but I get better!) For any given tune, I can still improve with practice. But I can see that before long that calculus will change: there will be stuff I used to be able to do and no longer can. So, I'll shift focus from technique to ... well ... just playing the right (and fewer) notes. Of course, you can't play fewer notes on the lead for bluegrass tunes, so thank goodness I play lots of styles and not much bluegrass.

    BTW, there is one nice thing about my condition. I have a note from the doctor saying "To relieve symptoms, drink alcohol."

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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Hi all, many years ago a member but have been a lurker for the last 15. Just want to say hats off to the folks running this site, best forum for info and respect for others and their opinions I have ever visited.
    On topic, my mom was a musician and she always told me and my siblings to take care of our bodies ecspecially our hands and fingers so I have always warmed up my hands with warm water, excercises learned through PT, and I have found that using CBD oil 2x a day helps. I pretty much play the OM and do not chord as much anymore. I found that experience has helped where speed has been lost. Most importantly for me is has I have gotten older I play slower but with more"soul".
    I also am a huge bicyclist and need to keep my hands in good health to keep riding. I am 67 years old.

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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wight View Post
    Hi all, many years ago a member but have been a lurker for the last 15. Just want to say hats off to the folks running this site, best forum for info and respect for others and their opinions I have ever visited.
    On topic, my mom was a musician and she always told me and my siblings to take care of our bodies ecspecially our hands and fingers so I have always warmed up my hands with warm water, excercises learned through PT, and I have found that using CBD oil 2x a day helps. I pretty much play the OM and do not chord as much anymore. I found that experience has helped where speed has been lost. Most importantly for me is has I have gotten older I play slower but with more"soul".
    I also am a huge bicyclist and need to keep my hands in good health to keep riding. I am 67 years old.
    CBD oil taken internally or rubbed on the joints?
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    As offbeat as it may sound, I suggest that you sit back for a monent and ask yourself WHY you play. What is it about the sound and feel of the instrument that makes your insides "sing". My guess is that it is not speed and phenomenal dexterity - rather it is how the instrument speaks to your heart. Use the answer you find as your guide.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    CBD oil taken internally or rubbed on the joints?
    I rub it on 2-3 times per day, it took about a week to srart having a positive effect.

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  21. #41
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I spent the 90s away from the mandolin, studying and playing Cuban bata drumming.

    It was an incredible musical journey, but nearly destroyed my hands.
    They hadn't quite reached Mongo Santamaria level of thickness, but I use them for too many things and had to make the tough decision to return to the mandolin.

    On the recommendation of my PT I purchased a "hot paraffin bath".

    I got this model, which is pricey, but has been worth every cent and more. There are cheaper models available, but we imagine this can dupe as a slow cooker.

    The relief it provides is extraordinary.

    I started playing button box / melodeon about five years ago, which I wouldn't have thought possible with the shape my hands were in post-bata.

    A lot of things went into the turn around with my hands / fingers such as suggested here. Diet and supplements played a role, too.

    But the paraffin bath is still a guilty (and effective) pleasure.

    Highly recommended, Nicholas.

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  23. #42
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    Default Re: aging fingers just can't cut it anymore

    I am in my 70’s, and I have plenty of arthritis to share. I find two things that help me. I play guitar, mandolin, and bass. I play mandolin the most, and don’t ever want to quit. The first things that help me is to play every day. I play mandolin for about an hour most days, then play guitar after that. Playing helps keep the inflammation and pain down. If I were to stop playing for a few days, my hands would get quite stiff and painful. The second thing is I use CBD. I used to use the oil, but have switched to the gummies. That does a good job of keeping the pain in control. That keeps the inflammation down, and it helps extend the way I can play. After 60+ years of playing, I have no intention of stopping. I don’t play out much anymore. I am limited by having to use a wheelchair. That makes getting on stage a challenge. My wife has been my faithful audience since 1966, and she still tolerates my picking.
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

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