To play the recorder, you have to move your fingers to cover and uncover the holes. But how do you do it? Where do your fingers bend?
I have played recorder since I was six, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started getting RSI-like wrist pain. I did all the usual obvious routes: doctor, physio, specialist, osteopath… Nothing really helped. In fact, it got so bad that I stopped playing.
Even after I started experiencing improvement in my arms after studying the Alexander Technique, it took years for me to pluck up courage to start playing recorder again. And when I did, I got some help from an experienced and very wise teacher friend, Jill Tappin.
Jill quickly became fascinated with the way I was using my hands. We discovered together that I had a very odd idea about the way my fingers moved. I believed that they should bend where the crease line is at the bottom of my fingers, here:
Of course, that isn’t right at all. They flex much lower, at the knuckle. That’s where the joint is:
But even though it wasn’t anatomically possible to flex my fingers higher up, I had managed to create a set of complex and exhausting muscular contractions that had the net effect of moving my finger where I believed it was correct.
My brain power overrode my anatomy.
Changing my idea of where my fingers flexed had a dramatic difference upon my recorder playing. I found I was able to move my fingers more easily and more quickly. I found I could play the fast passages faster, and do cross-fingerings more cleanly.
Today as you play, I want you to take a moment to think about your fingers. Where are you flexing them – at the knuckle, or at the skin crease? What would happen if you did it differently?