I’m injured. I have an injury.*
The three fingers on my left hand (pinky, ring finger, and middle finger) are stiff, tender, and in pain. I’ve been learning First Nocturne, an elegant piano piece written by Filipino composer Nicanor Abelardo (1893 – 1934).
Earlier this year, I set a goal to perform this for an adult recital taking place in August 2021. That’s not happening.
First Nocturne is beautiful but it’s a beast of piece to learn! It has wide spread piano chords that require a large hand span. Composers such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Franz Liszt were known to have long 12 finger spans and I’m assuming that Aberlardo probably did too.
I have an eight-note span. In order to play widespread chords, I stretched my fingers flat across the notes. In some instances, I played 2 notes with my thumb. For a few weeks, all of that worked!
With all that stretching and straining, my fingers started to stiffen. I told myself, “It’ll go away. Wait and see. Keep playing.” I kept playing. Then in April, the pain and stiffness grew worse. Insert ‘F Bombs’ here!
I visited my doctor and then the radiology department. The X-rays of my fingers revealed mild arthritis. Sigh. . .
My recovery plan consists of
- Acupuncture – I visit acupuncturist, Dr. Brian Kuo, for acupuncture treatment twice a week. I take some Naprosyn and apply Voltaren cream on my fingers. If I have time, I use a heating pad to my fingers 3-4 timers a day.
- Piano technique (Thank you Dr. Jeeyoon Kim!):
a. Working with my piano teacher, Dr. Jeeyoon Kim, to improve my technique and play with more relaxation and flow, one finger at a time, one measure at time.
b. Deliberate piano practice – Set goals for each piece and time it. For example, in Nocturne, I would work on left hand only, measures 1 – 8, 15 minutes only. Then the same process for my next piece, etc. As I heal, I can add more time.
- Meditation – To help with relaxation, I’m using a meditation app called HeadSpace.
- INSERT important lessons (not F Bombs) here!
a. Setbacks ARE setting me up for something better and in this case, it’s better piano techniques and a closer relationship to my piano music.
b. The journey has U-turns.
c. Trust the process of the body’s ability to heal
*d. I’m not defined by this injury so I changed “I’m injured” to “I have an injury.”