Slooooooowing down

I have one more “gig” — playing the offertory in church this Sunday (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” with Camille on flute) — and one more recording session on Tuesday (Craig’s tune “Cherry on Top”), and then that’s it for this holiday season.

It’s been a nice full one this year, starting with the weekend craft show at Mom’s Place in mid-November. The busiest time was the weekend before last, when the trio had two gigs in Corning (about nine hours including travel and a dinner break) and then a gig near Albany the next day (about twelve hours for that one, yikes!).

Though I’m a little sad to be almost done with playing for a while, it’ll be good to have a break.

For one thing, we can get back to the trio CD. I’ve burned copies of what we’ve got so far for me and the guys to listen to and evaluate. I think I need to revisit some of the mixes — many seem to need more volume on the guitar and some need more dulcimer, too. I’ve also started thinking about possible track orderings, and I’ve been experimenting with traycard designs. At some point I’ll have to think about how to actually make the booklets and traycards — maybe buy software and paper myself, or maybe see about having them done at a local printer.

By the way, here’s a track list, in alphabetical order for now:

  • Banish Misfortune / Swallowtail Jig
  • Carolan’s Welcome
  • Cherry on Top (© Craig Higgins)
  • Down the Brae / Ballydesmond Polkas #2-3
  • Dubuque / Spootiskerry
  • Hills of Lorne
  • Irksome Girl / Midnight Maze (both © Marcy Prochaska)
  • O’Keefe’s Slide / Derrane’s / Trip to Durrow
  • Out on the Ocean / Morrison’s Jig / Kesh Jig
  • Star of Munster / Old Copperplate
  • Staten Island / Julia Delany
  • Winter East and Kensington (© Marcy Prochaska)

For another, it’ll give my hands a rest. I’ve been dealing with an inflamed tendon in my left hand since October or so — tuning and playing the dulcimer aggravate it a little. I’m not convinced the dulcimer caused the problem, but there might be ways I can adjust my methods to be easier on my hands.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the nail side of the tip of my thumb sometimes hurts while I’m playing; when I demonstrated the dulcimer for my physical therapist, she noticed that I tend to overarch the left thumb. I think this has to do with the finger-flick technique I use to compensate for being right-handed. By flicking the back of the hammer grip with my ring finger, I can get a clearer, stronger sound. Having a big arch in my thumb seems to help with that technique, perhaps by providing a nice shape for the hammer grip to rotate around, which seems to also help me keep the hammer from wobbling sideways. Perhaps there’s a way I can be more aware of that thumb — maybe I can keep it arched but not overarched, and keep it relaxed and not rigid.

Or perhaps I can train my left hand to do what my right hand is doing.