Playing injuries are an all too common in this line of work. A cornucopia of tendinitis, blown chops, and back problems are the most likely, but I have mastered injuring myself in a way that is surely unique to bass players… and possibly just to myself.
My bass has a rather significant string height; this allows me to wail on it but it also makes it a hazard to my health. Wearing out my left hand is a big concern since I’m working so hard to press the strings, but it’s actually the danger of getting a finger, or some fingers wedged under a string, or some strings, and then pressing down the next note that nearly felled me today. This morning at a rehearsal of Beethoven 8, while I was absolutely rocking my way through the development of the first movement (familiar to any bass player who ever auditioned for PMF) I got my first finger under a string and with machine gun-like precision, hammered down the next note, briefly leading me to believe that I had amputated part of my first finger with a d-string. Immediately I launched into a brief but violent tirade of the kind of words that aren’t appropriate for children’s ears. Usually children wouldn’t be an issue, but sitting just above me in the choir loft: Three classrooms worth of 10-year-old’s on a field trip observing the orchestra.
This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has caused me public or semi-public embarrassment.
Eight or so years ago I was sitting in the principal bass chair at a National Youth Orchestra of Canada rehearsal I got pretty much my entire hand under the strings and dropped an f-bomb so loud the entire bass section just stopped playing and stared at me. The Maestro looked on in a rather unique combination of amusement, disgust and confusion.