Q: I’m so glad that there is such a thing as “Musician’s Doctor” because I have been trying to play some old songs by Metallica and they require massive speed picking. Whenever I try to speed pick, my hand sort of stalls on me. While I’m mentally speed picking, I’m physically not moving. Is there a secret I’m missing? After some time of attempting this, my hand begins to cramp.
A: There’s a few reasons why your hand is not keeping up with your brain’s messages. First, maybe you need to perform some speed drill exercises to develop the muscle fibers in your hand and forearms. I would suggest doing this on one or two strings (not trying to play anything – just pick the open strings. Start off relatively slowly and then build your speed. You’ll get to a point when you begin to have trouble keeping the speed. This is the “trouble zone” and this is where you’ll have to concentrate at developing the skill. Perform this exercise twice a day for at least one month. Do it for about 10 to 15 minutes only each session. We’re not trying to fatigue the muscles – we’re trying to build speed. You should start to see your speed increasing. The purpose of this exercise is to enhance the firing of the muscles fibers.
The next reason why you may not be able to keep up the speed is because of a pinched nerve going from the brain to your hand. Your brain is simply unable to send the complete signal down to the hand and your hand is screwing up. This problem would have to be determined by a chiropractor who can then release the pressure on the nerve via a chiropractic spinal adjustment – usually in the neck area – and your speed will then increase naturally. (a painless procedure – feels great!)
Finally, the last issue I would look at is your nutritional status. Muscle contraction is highly controlled by minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Nerve conduction is the same way, and requires a great deal of B vitamins. You may want to begin taking a multivitamin/mineral complex as an insurance policy that your body has the right nutrition to perform the work.
Good luck in your playing ability.
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Dr. Tim Jameson has been in private chiropractic practice for 10 years.
Dr. Jameson is a guitarist and pianist and plays weekly in his church praise band. Besides enjoying Christian and gospel music, he loves to “play the blues.”
Dr. Jameson has spent the last four years focusing on the care of the musician population. His practice, though, is family-oriented and he specializes in the care of infants and children. (Our musicians to be!)