Schumann “Fairy Tales” in concert

Etude2thumbrest(With T. Kooimann Etude 2 thumb rest)

Several months ago, I had posted news about this thumb rest. My reason was simple: severe pain in my right thumb after playing for even one hour. I had forgotten how painful this could be. It simply makes you cringe as you hold and play the clarinet, which ,of course, disturbs virtually everything.
I had simply put off the thumb rest, mostly because I found that lack of practice resulted in no pain. No practice, no pain, right?
Wrong. Initially, practicing went fine, but as the hours passed, the pain increased reminding me of my original article, and ensuing discomfort.
Practicing a bit may have helped, but since “between engagements” ,( retired.) I did not.
So, when my friends,extraordinary musicans,Sara an Donald Pistolesi came for our rehearsals and concert, the pain returned, and was even more severe. (Sara, Violin and Viola, Donald, Cello and Piano, retaining their virtuosity and youthful enthusiasm)

Here is the very good news. I attached the thumb rest myself, with no assistance, and with only one screw, and it held perfectly . It was a very easy change to make. It must be removed when putting the clainet in the case, but it simply slides on and off, easily.
I had read several reviews of this thumb rest, and was taken by one which said the thing just snapped off after ten minutes. This is not the case, and only one of the supplied screws was used.
The pupose of this thumb rest is to shift the weight of the clarinet from the first joint of the thumb to the joint closest to the palm, which completely eliminates the pain because this part of thumb can sustain so much more weight. The thumb rest itself swivels to adjust to many positions. The big news is that it is a very simple installation, and I used only one of the three screws provided.

I paid about 25 dollars several years ago, and the thing just laid in the drawer. So, with such a simple procedure, taking less than a few minutes, I was playng without any pain in my thumb. Yes, I should have installed the thing several weeks in advance, bu ,frankly, I was reluctant. I needn’t have been, nor should any reader.

Here is what I did and used: I removed the thumb rest, which needed a jewelers  loup and a thin ,strong screwdriver. (eyes get weaker at 80 years) Indispensible was a small tool called the “Leatherman Squirt”, a tiny many- bladed thing which can be caried anywhere and has an actual miniature pliers, which fold out of the tool. This was used to unscreew the original thumb rest, and the short screwdriver, also in the tool, has enough strength to loosen and tighten screws. Amazingly useful, and small enough to keep on your key chain. I received mine as a gift from my nephew, Randy.

Here is my report: It is an easy installation, and I used it immediately after installing it. No practice, not a note. It worked, providing painless stability. Of course, I was fortunate.

The concert, which included works by Bruch , as well as the Schumann was successful. The FAiry Tales are his last published work, which was allowed to be published by his wife, Clara, and Johannes Brahms. A wonderfully strange work with a gorgeous lullaby, complete with contemporary sounding dissonances. All of Schumanns works for clarinet are either beautiful, playable , unusual, and effective for the audience. Because Schumann had not played the piano for 30 years or so, the piano writing, especially in the last movement is very awkward , and takes an extra rehearasal. Please ,do not rush. Slower is faster, and you know what I mean.

If you have discomfort in your right hand, here is a way to fix it, without any operation, save for your own installation of this thumb rest. Initially, I had this rather exquisite pain in my left thumb, but it was easily fixed with a simple day surgery at the Montreal General. I prefer the new thumb rest. Incidentally, they make a metal one, with many adjustments possible,(200$) but the less expensive one works just fine. If it breaks, I will get another.

Good luck, stay well, and keep practicing, and or playing.

Chamber music is always the most enjoyable thing one can do.



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