When Students Injure A Hand

Annalisa said: Jun 9, 2016
Annalisa EwaldGuitar
Norwalk, CT
1 posts

One of the most frustrating occurrences for all concerned is a student injuring a hand. This past month TWO of my students did this: one broke a wrist and the other fractured his hand. The exuberance of these two students exceeded their burgeoning sense of caution. Ah, youth! “I overestimated the strength of my bones,” said my six-year-old student soberly. The other is older and, presumably embarrassed, is incommunicado.

As a teacher, I hate to see the precious ground these students have gained slip away. One was just finishing Book One and the other advanced student had finally started to master the fretboard in real time (i.e. he could play up the neck without pausing to parse out where the notes were.) The two families handled the situation entirely differently.

The first thing I did after commiserating with both families was suggest that there is a lot to be gained from working on studies with the uninjured hand and, for the older student, theory. I asked the younger student to review Book One as a Two-headed Guitarist: the student fretted the notes with his good hand while Dad plucked them (yes, Dad plays guitar and knows the songs.) It worked! Not only did the two have fun with the silliness of it all, but it made for a great focus on the left hand position and super practice hearing the songs in his head. And yesterday, still in the cast for another few weeks, he was able to wiggle the fingers of his right hand and painlessly pluck to notes himself. His Dad and I thought since his healing wrist is still immobilized and nothing hurts that it was ok to go ahead. The young student was delighted. In his own words, “I cannot be stopped!” He really loves his guitar.

The jury is out on the older student whom I have not seen in some 6 weeks now. Since they opted out of any lessons during the healing process, I could only tell his Mom that getting back to playing as soon as possible was important. I can only hope he is not discouraged by the long lapse in playing, always detrimental in the past.

Kirsten said: Jun 11, 2016
 103 posts

I can tell you that when I was 13 (decades ago) I broke my collarbone and could not play my violin for some weeks. And when I was able to play violin again, I was suddenly able to do vibrato. I always wanted a vibrato and struggled to learn. A broken collarbone was the only solution for me.

The story about your student enthusiastically keeping up with his lessons, even with a cast, is really sweet. What a wonderful attitude he and his Dad have. Being in touch with parents and kids like that keeps us humble and inspired.
Great Suzuki teaching story.


Phankao said: Jun 16, 2016
 128 posts

My son broke his right wrist when he was 9yrs old and a fairly intermmediate to advanced level student. He totally refused any sugestion to try practising during the time his arm was in a cast, although he was doing most of his written schoolwork—he’s righthanded. His teacher just had him attend lessons as usual but work on theory and aural. The day his cast was out, he was quite suprised by how week the wrist appeared to be, but that same night I heard him practising. 1.5mths after that he did a rather good performance with his usual gusto. So well, young kids—they mend well ! His wrist is as flexible as before (well, I wouldn’t know how much more/less flexible anyway).

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