What I Do While Giving My Thumbs A Rest

Dulcimer making and playing requires I use my thumbs quite a bit. I use my left thumb extensively while playing and I use both thumbs when using tools; especially scrapers and planes.

I ocaisionally have flare-ups of arthritis in the base of my thumbs. Rarely has it kept me from playing music (I’ve never missed a gig) but resting my hands speeds up recovery considerably.

Ergonomics are an important consideration when working on instruments and playing music. Being aware of the way my body works (and doesn’t work)  has not only made  the work I love possible  but has also improved my skills as a musician and luthier.

Still, I won’t be doing a lot of hand planing  or mountain dulcimer playing during the next few days. My thumbs get to take a short vacation.

Doug Berch shows off his stylish thumb braces

Unfortunately there is much that needs to be done so I won’t be joining my thumbs on their vacation.

Though I will refrain from playing mountain dulcimer for a few days my thumbs have no problem while I play hammered dulcimer. I may call them back from vacation now and then to play a few tunes.

Playing clawhammer banjo, tin whistle and harmonium are also gentle on my thumbs so I don’t think they will mind hanging around for that either.

The shop can use a good cleaning. Actually, it can always use a good cleaning.  Maybe I’ll rearange  the things that have needed rearranging, etc. My thumbs can enjoy watching the other fingers do all the work.

I’ve also been looking for time to do some work on my promo package (what musicians call their resume), work on my web page, and take a few hikes on the warmer days.

If I need inspiration for finding work to do while resting my thumbs I will consult this fine craftsperson:

monkey making fine dulcimers without opposable thumbs

He manages to do fine work without  overusing his thumbs. Perhaps non-opposable thumbs are an advantage in some situations?

I do worry that he may strain his wrist and get carpal-tunnel from holding the hammer too close to the head.