Courage! Remember what B. Davis said

Hello AA:

At age 80 I am having arthritis problems with my hands, particularly my 2
index fngers. The distance between my index fingers and my ring fingers
seems to be shrinkng! I’m wondering if key covers (like on plateau
flutes) on a few keys would help. Or do you have another suggestion? I
warm up daily on the Klose Mechanism exercises–helps slightly but not
much! I really don’t want to give up my clarinet. I tried Bass Clarinet
(no open holes) for a few months but typical band music wasn’t very
exciting. (I licked one problem but gained another one). Thanks. I
appreciate your Clarinet Corner articles very much. If you recommend ring
covers, where might I find them?

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Congratulations on playing at your tender age. I am not so much younger than you and I am playing a concert this Sunday and can well empathize with you as I believe this problem is a function of the process of aging. The most important thing for you to do is to keep playing because I have found that if you do not not, the problem will get worse. One can find a plateau clarinet. Leblanc used to make them for people with smaller or shorter fingers, however it has been some time since they were discontinued. They pop up on ebay every once in a while and the idea would be a help to you of course, and there have been rather expensive plateau clarinets around but never terribly popular. Practice even more than before and do not try stretching fingers as it can lead to trouble you may not care to visit. Think Robert Schumann the great Romantic composer and pianist who developed a contrivance to stretch his fingers and wound up being unable to play a as a result.
Medications like “Aleve”, (naproxin) or “Motrin” (ibuprofen) are available without a prescription but must be taken carefully as they can cause bleeding of the stomach. They are effective however. I would suggest the ibuprofen.
I will close with a quote from Bette Davis: “Gettin old aint for sissies”
I wish you all the best with your clarinet. My right hand hurts all the time but I use a ten-dollar rubber thumb holder which is remarkable. Called a “thumb saddle’ ( Ridenour).

Stay well.
Sherman

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