Four of us members of the orchestra prep group gathered together on Saturday to rehearse some old tunes and begin to learn some new ones. All of us being of an age, we ended up comparing the state of our hands. Actually, the discussion began with the other guy in the group as soon as he and I exited our separate vehicles at the same time. He began by explaining how he had purchased new strings for his mandolin. He had to press so hard to play the old, heavy strings that his hands were beginning to suffer. He told me how it took him about a half hour to be able to straighten his hands in the morning. When I informed him that mine were the same way, he began to think that it might not completely be the fault of the strings.
The subject came up again a bit later when I asked the leader a question about the fingering in a certain section. I wondered if I could try playing the open E string instead of using the fourth finger on the A string. She had no problem with this suggestion because she does the very same thing in that piece; due to much fiddling, her fourth finger no longer works well, so she often has to improvise. She then went on to describe how some of her other fingers were also beginning to curve about oddly.
I first encountered my problems almost a year and a half ago shortly after I started playing. Although it was and continues to be somewhat discouraging, I am somewhat heartened to know that I am not alone in my infirmities. It's not so much that misery loves company but that I might not be as weak or weird as I once thought when I discovered that something as apparently innocuous as playing the violin was hard on my body.
Now, one of the first things I do in the morning is run some hot water into the sink and soak my hands in it for a while in order to help them loosen up. I think it helps a bit, and I mentioned it to the others. I have a feeling that come this morning, at least four musicians will be dipping their hands into hot water.
(Note: just because I make a feeble attempt to play the fiddle, I do not delude myself into thinking that I am a musician, but the word serves my purposes in this short narrative.)