Compiled by Tim Finholt

A new video has recently come out that ALL cellists should view. It is called "Medical Problems of Cellists" and is a 1 hour tape of a lecture given by Richard Norris, M.D., also author of "The Musicians Survival Manual" and of another video called "Therapeutic Exercises for Musicians." "Medical Problems of Cellists" is basically a taped slide show with Dr. Norris talking in the background. Though there is a some medical jargon, Dr. Norris does an excellent job of explaining himself in more lay terms after he gives the technical explanation, so that his message is quite understandable. He shows many slides of cellists and the common cellistic activities that cause injury.

Dr. Norris divides the causes of musicians' medical problems into two general categories: Extrinsic and Intrinsic. Extrinsic factors are those that can roughly be attributed to the external world while intrinsic factors are more or less internal. He lists extrinsic factors such as:

An abrupt change in practice time length, in intensity, in teachers, and in instruments.
Certain types of repertoire.
Instrument quality and size
Inadequate rehabilitation of previous injuries.
Other hand-intensive usage from activities such as typing and gardening

He lists intrinsic factors such as:

Faulty technique, using excessive force, or awkward or stressful posture.
Psychological State.
General Physical Conditioning.
Anatomic Variations.

Dr. Norris discusses common problems in cellists, their causes, and how to prevent these problems. He discusses the following:

Common problems with the bow grip.
Excessive force in the left hand.
Several types of nerve entrapment (nerve pinching).
Thoracic outlet syndrome.
Risky repertoire types.
Why it's dangerous to play when it is cold.
The advantages and disadvantages of the angled end-pin (the Tortelier end-pin which was adopted by Rostropovich).
How to carry the cello.
The position of the head and neck strain.
Back disorders.
Holding the cello.
How the pegs can cause strain.

At the end of the video he gives many exercises to strengthen cello-related muscles and also gives advice on improving one's overall conditioning.

As you can see, this video is jam-packed full of relevant tips for cellists. For more information on the video, write to:

Dr. Richard Norris, MD
14600 Pebble Hill Lane
N. Patomic, MD 20878
(To order send $30)

For information on his book and the other video mentioned above, write to:

Contemporary Arts Building
3526 Washington Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63103-1019

Copyright 1996 Internet Cello Society