Topic: Right hand wrist movement on the bassoon


I have rather small hands (maybe I should have learnt the oboe!), but I've been playing bassoon for about 17 years now, gone through university and everything, and only recently noticed that my right hand wrist moves every now and then. I've never noticed it before, but that doesn't mean it could be a recent thing.

It seems to happen when I go for the Bb etc keys with my thumb. I have been using a thumb rest but I'm wondering if I should try without. I've tried to play making my hand and arm straight and aligned and minimise any wrist movement but it's tricky for me to do and seems to cause me more pain than if I let my wrist do what it wants to do.

Is it a problem, or will it cause further problems down the track? Any ideas on how to fix it?


Re: Right hand wrist movement on the bassoon

I have a similar problem. Mine is caused by DeQuervain's tenosynovitis. If it gets bad enough surgery can help, but I am holding off on that for as long as possible. You can see how bad it is by doing a Finkelstein test (google that!). Much of the time there is no pain, but then I'll be playing along and the tendon sheath gets caught in the canal and it 's like a shock goes through my wrist. Mine was caused by breaking a fall while riding a bike. I use a contra style hand rest on my bassoon and that helps. Hope that is helpful information!
Brian R. Peterson, MD

Re: Right hand wrist movement on the bassoon

Hello Sararara, In my opinion, small movements of the right wrist are normal and necessary especially when reaching for the thumb b-flat key. The movement will be most noticeable if you play the 4-note sequence G-flat (using the thumb key!) A-flat (using the fourth finger), B-flat (using the thumb key) and A-flat (4th again). I suggest, since it has not caused a problem until now, that you continue to play the way you always have.

About the thumb rest (hand rest): I recommend using one because it minimizes twisting movement of the instrument. However, the stem of the rest can be shortened if it is too high. Further, there are different shapes of thumb rest available, for example, at Fox Products.

About the right wrist and arm: minimize the bend of the wrist by elevating the elbow away from the body. I further suggest using a seat strap to hold the instrument when seated. Very best wishes, Christopher Weait

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University

Re: Right hand wrist movement on the bassoon

If the advice you've already been given does not help, there are modifications that can be made to your instrument to accommodate small hands.

Here is a monograph from Fox about this: