For some reason I've managed to avoid glissandi for most of my life but in the past few months I have had to face them with terrifying frequency, so much so that I was developing quite the phobia of them because of the incredible pain and messiness I was experiencing.
Too many glissandi = painful fingers = one very unhappy pianist
It started with being enlisted to play the harp parts on an electric keyboard for a local production of the Nutcracker in December. I had such romantic notions of being able to imitate a harp player, ripping my fingers across the keyboard with the grace that a harp player has when ripping off the glissandi that are sprinkled throughout the score. Unfortunately it didn't take many exuberant attempts on my part before I found myself wincing in pain and getting a pang of nausea every time I saw another one coming. It wasn't long after then that blood was drawn which created a bit of a precarious situation. At intermission I found myself a mess in more ways than one. I managed to scrounge up some bandaids from some of the little mice's mothers backstage. I thought the bandaids would work but they were no match and were completely shredded by the end of the performance.
Over the next few days I tried every type of bandaid I could find. I tried Super Glue. I tried New Skin. Nothing helped. I somehow made it through all four Nutcracker performances but my fingers were not pretty by the end.
With all this said, imagine my delight when I returned to work recently only to discover that many of the saxophonists I'm accompanying are playing pieces with glissandi in them for their recitals. Ahhh, lovely.
I thought the break would have helped my fingers but nope. The minute I went for my first you-know-what, I saw blood start pool at the base of my nail. What to do? What to do? Should I leave the glissandi out? No, I can't do that! They are so perfect for the pieces and I can't let these students down.
It was as I was driving to a performance recently and passed a CVS that an idea popped into my head. Are you ready for this?
Corn relief pads. Yep, that's right!
I quickly pulled into the CVS parking lot, ran inside and perused the corn-relief aisle - I first for me. It was fascinating. There must be lots of corn sufferers out there! Anyway, my eyes eventually settled on this...
|My new love!|
They weren't cheap but we're talking about my fingers! These little strips are truly amazing. It's like a clear bandaid but the pad that covers the corn (or brutally damaged finger) is filled with gel. Really cool, comfy gel. Ahhhhh...
So I tried one of these that same afternoon. Felt great for the first glissando but then my fingers started sticking to the keys. It wasn't long before I started seeing and feeling little globules of shredded bandaid all over. OK, that didn't work!
Guiltily cleaning off the keys post-performance that day, I thought back to a conversation I had with a colleague of mine about my glissandi travails. She had mentioned the possibility of using electrical tape instead of a bandaid. Bring on a lightbulb moment!
Combine the Dr. Scholl's corn pain relief strips with...
|Electrical tape even comes in pretty colors!|
...and you've got yourself some heavy duty glissando busters!
|The pianist's version of a manicure!|
I just got back from a dress rehearsal where I put this little combination to a test and I have to say, I had the most fun I've ever had while playing those glissandos. Not one once of pain, no nausea.
I am a wimpy pianist no more!!
So bring on those glissandi - I beg you!!!
And dear Dr. Scholl's, please, please, don't stop making these gems. The piano world needs you! If you need a spokesperson, I'd be happy to oblige.
If any pianists have any other suggestions or solutions for glissandi issues, please do share!