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  • Writer's pictureAlex Bickers

Stamina - preparing for a long set

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

If any of you have ever played a gig before, especially a lengthy one, did you notice how tired and sore your fingers/hands were afterward? Did you start forming blisters on your finger tips where they don't usually form?

Well I probably don't need to point out that the reason for this was because you were playing harder with a lot more intensity than you usually do. The adrenaline and excitement from performing live in front of an audience makes you dig deeper, and because of the noise generated by the band you are going to struggle to hear yourself at times, and of course as an individual you will want to be heard by the audience. So it is completely natural to subconsciously play harder. Literally every bass player or guitar player does this. And it is especially true when you are playing upbeat or high energy music like rock.

On a few occasions I had to play bass for nearly 3 hours at a function gig. On one particular occasion my hand started to cramp and hurt so terribly but I had no choice but to carry on as we were not due to come off stage for another 15 minutes. At the end of the set my drummer was also complaining about his arms aching.

This could have been potentially dangerous, as I also had a gig the following night, and if I had got a repetative strain injury and then played on it the following night, it would have made it a lot worse and could have potentially made me pull out of following gigs. This would have been a disasater. There are things we can do to combat and prevent this, and as you guitar teacher or bass teacher I will go through effective strategies to help build up this stamina.

1. Always, always warm up before you play. This is the most important one. Redgarless if it's for a gig, or just practicing at home. Do the warm up excersises I show you in our guitar lessons/bass lessons and ease yourself into the songs. It helps to not have high intensity songs early in the set, but sometimes we may have no control over that, which is why it is doubly important to warm up!

2. Get used to playing for long periods of time. This one is pretty explanatory. If you are going to do a 2 hour set, in the weeks running up to it, you might want to practice playing for that long too. Of course don't overdo it, as you may develop RSI, but be sensible. It's no good doing occasional 30 minute practices as your muscles will never develop strength, but when you do do long practise session, ensure you take regular short breaks and don't do extremely long sessions every day. Give your body time to recover.

3. Get used to playing harder at home. Think about how hard you are hitting the strings In a live situation. Are you hitting them with the same intensity in your own private practice? if not then raise it up just a little bit to allow your tendons to get used to it so you can build up the muscle. Once again don't overdo it as this can break strings and tire you out quickly. As your guitar teacher/bass teacher I will be encouraging you to really dig in and play with conviction according to your level of playing regardless as this can improve the tone produced by the strings.

So please take my advice and proceed with caution so you dont enounter any problems.


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