For William Goldsmith, twenty-seven-year-old drummer for Seattle’s atmospheric rock trio Sunny Day Real Estate, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome first manifested themselves as “really intense, sharp pains in my arms” and “numbness in my hands,” especially upon waking from a night’s sleep. “I could still play,” he says, “but it had gotten to the point where it was always really painful. It made playing music not much fun.”
Goldsmith was quickly diagnosed with the repetitive stress disorder (along with tendinitis and bursitis in the shoulders) via acupuncture he was undergoing to alleviate lower back problems. Goldsmith was informed that, without treatment, his career as a drummer would be over within two years.
What Goldsmith is going through is, not surprisingly, showing up in other young drummers. “I was asking for it,” he says, “because I’m self-taught and never really learned any technique. I play more with my arms, and that’s not good.”
To counteract formerly destructive habits, Goldsmith says he’s concentrating on becoming more restrained in his technique. “I find you can play heavier the more relaxed you stay. I’m trying to let my wrists do the work and give my arms a break. When I was a kid, I wanted to be exactly like Keith Moon, and that’s how I played for a long time, just completely insane. Now I’m really starting to enjoy simplicity. I don’t like playing things that are unnecessary. I want to leave room for all the colors to really swirl around me.”