This year I discovered that I had carpal tunnel in my right wrist. It began interfering with my ability to repair/ work on horns. It begun hadn’t affected my playing until recently so I have had to take it slow in my practice to avoid anything that could be detrimental to my playing. In doing so, I have been able to take and examine other aspects of my playing that honestly need more attention than I have been giving them.
To start: On alto saxophone, I had never have been comfortable with how the horn feels while I played it. On Soprano, I had found a setup that I love and I have been searching for that on the alto saxophone for a while.
I have always liked Vandoren reeds. Vandoren made the reeds that I started on, they have always been tolerably consistent, and have served me well. D’Addario reeds are arguably more consistent however I had always had an issue with chirping while playing on these reeds so I elected to avoid playing on them. The D’Addario definitely were more comfortable than their Vandoren counterparts however the chirp always killed it for me. Due to my seriousness in finding comfort in my setup, I finally decided that because so many players used the D’Addario reeds that the chirping issue was on me. Dealing with my wrist gave me the perfect opportunity to step back and “Fix myself”.
I took it all the way back to the mouthpiece and found that my air-stream was doing very strange things and to compensate, my tongue was working WAY too hard. After a few days (and continuous monitoring) of steady practice: Boom! I had cleared up the chirping issue. This opened up the door to being able to use equipment that I wanted to use in order to be comfortable in my own playing. (GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!)
Despite fighting a playing injury, I have still managed to be productive and learn to better teach my students and I have already used some of the exercises that I discovered in my own studio with great success… Now to go stretch my wrist.
(Thanks to Dr. Allison Adams, Dr. Rhett Bender, and Dr. John Bleuel for their help identifying this issue, the advise on fixing it, and the help with my wrist.)