Elbow Rest?

Posted: 5/16/2008 10:06:08 PM

From: Connecticut

Joined: 10/10/2007

Does anyone here use an elbow rest while playing the theremin or know where I could get one? I'm notorious for having an unsteady hand and think an elbow rest would be beneficial.
Posted: 5/17/2008 3:44:36 AM

From: Germany, near Munich

Joined: 11/20/2007

...you could ask [b]Rupert[/b] directly...
Posted: 5/17/2008 9:47:24 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Rupe posted on the Aetherphon list a little while ago that he rests his elbow on a camera tripod.
Posted: 5/17/2008 10:06:17 AM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

A simple way to do elbow rests would be to use two mic-stands, or tripods for adjustable hight, and then mount a 3 inch or so diameter wood disk, or square on top of the mic-stand, or tripod. Put foam on top of the disk, and then stretch a bit of cloth, or leather over the foam, and staple it in place on th bottom of the wood disk. I'm sure you could make a mic-stand adaptor by simply using a plumbing flange, and short threaded pipe with an inner diameter suitable for slipping over a mic-stand. It would be good if this were not a tight fit, so it could swivel as your arms moved.

Place a stand under each elbow at a hight that allows you to play without bending, or slouching in any way, but allows you to play comfortably, and in a manner which produces the desired results.

If you play while seated, you could simply strap some foam to the arm rests of your chair.

One caution I would offer about using elbow, and arm rests, is these are fine for short term occasional use, but applying constant pressure for long periods could lead to possible RSI problems if used too often, and long term. (as in practicing 8 to 10 hours a day.)
Posted: 5/18/2008 1:33:49 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

Performing any repetitive action for 8 to 10 hours a day would run the risk of giving the performer RSI.

I don't believe that an unsteady arm would be too great a hindrance to theremin playing, given practise.
Posted: 5/18/2008 4:04:25 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

This is true. ;)
Posted: 5/21/2008 9:30:19 AM
Brian R

From: Somerville, MA

Joined: 10/7/2005

I can't imagine that it would really be a good thing to use an elbow rest... Better to play sitting down, or leaning against the back of a chair, for greater physical stability that translates into greater pitch stability.

I learned this from Elizabeth Brown a few years back... though I've been too stubborn to practice it myself! Which is to say, I agree with Charlie that if you just keep practicing, the appropriate muscles will develop. My pitch is steadier now than it was when I started (two-and-a-half years ago), and I expect it will be even better in 2010.

Posted: 5/21/2008 4:55:18 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

Ts, ts, ts...

Did anyone already see a violin player with an elbow rest???

I think this would reduce your arm moving in a manner that you will not longer be able to make expressive and animated music.

So I agree with Brian that you should rather find other forms of practicing in order to solve your anatomic problems.
Posted: 5/22/2008 1:49:31 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Guess I'll chime in here...

I'm uncomfortable with the notion of resting one's elbow on something while playing the theremin.

For starters, to do this reduces the playable range of notes -- for one cannot stretch one's arm or move one's torso to reach notes outside the arc of the arm.

Another issue is one of injury -- I'm not convinced that to put weight one one's elbow (which would happen when resting one's elbow on something) wouldn't cause some kind of stress injury. Not sure on this... just a hunch.

The other is one of preference -- the players who I tend to imitate don't rest their elbows on anything.

[i]-- Kevin[/i]
Posted: 5/24/2008 8:24:29 AM

From: UK

Joined: 4/15/2008

I can't offer a very informed opinion, being reasonably new to the theremin, (I'm here to get advice rather than offer it!) However, from the point of view of someone working to get steadier, (after a pretty wobbly and painful start), I think an elbow rest is perhaps best avoided. Rather than opting for a short-term "fix" that steadies you immediately, I think it might be wisest to work through the problem with practice.

If your arm seems especially wobbly, it might be worth re-examining your usual arm position. I know I started out with my right arm held too far forward and horizontal over the flat surface of the E-standard, (which was also a little too high). Holding my arm in such a position for even just a few minutes felt uncomfortable, and any longer was pure torture. After some experimenting, (without the theremin in situe), I found a comfortable position, (seated, with right upper arm close to body, elbow resting lightly against the hip for greater stability). I then adjusted the height of the theremin to suit this playing position.

The result is that I can now practice for several hours daily without experiencing pain, (although I DID have to push through a pain-barrier at some stage; but once through that, I had comfort and stability with the freedom to move the arm from that position when I needed to extend the range of playable notes.

At almost three months of playing theremin, things finally seem to be "clicking into place" - and I'm now finding myself far steadier than I would've thought possible. I suspect that if I'd tried to avoid the problem instead of working through it, that wouldn't be the case.

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