Physical Health and Double Bass

Tutor no longer registered
Jazz Double Bass By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: Double Bass » Jazz Double Bass
Last updated: 06/07/2017
Tags: double bass, exercise, physical health, warm ups

Playing the bass can be hard in a lot of ways. It takes hours and years of relentless practice and application to develop the skills that we need to become good bass players, and although this can be a struggle itself, it can also have negative affects on our physical health. 

Playing such a big instrument which requires so much physical energy is just like doing sport or strenuous exercise. Yet how many musicians stretch and warm up their bodies properly before practice or a gig? Bass players have it especially tough, having to lug a huge piece of wood all over the place, up and down stairs, whilst fending off all the usual remarks that are thrown at us in the street. Sometimes I think if we rebranded ourselves as 'big violin' players, we'd actually have an easier time and get more work!

I had a sobering experience whilst preparing to audition for music college. After hours and hours of repetitive practice my left thumb finally gave way and succumbed to the pain of tendonitis. Which meant that I couldn't really play for a couple of months. Those months were spent in frustration and multiple visits to the physiotherapist. 

After this, I thought how I had never been taught properly about the dangers of physically overstraining my body from exercise connected to playing music. During school, and with youth music education in general, it seems like this is overlooked, and young musicians are not taught to warm up away from the instrument as well as on it, and also to warm down. The physical effort involved in playing Double Bass makes this danger even more real. The strain on your back when carrying a heavy instrument can be seriously damaging - I know many bass players who suffer from back problems - and made even worse if you also have to drag along all sorts of other equipment on a gig, such as an amp etc.

My tip is to give yourself as much time as possible to make any journey where you are carrying the instrument for a long way. Take breaks, and when you arrive, make sure you have time to relax and let your body forget the tension. It is easy to forget, but will help you play for longer in the long run!

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