I've continued to work on playing thumblessly, and I've reached the point where I no longer have to keep reminding myself about it. In fact, I now have to remind myself to go ahead and let my thumb touch the base of the neck as part of going to 4th position - then of course to let go again. The pain on the inside base of my thumb is still there, but nowhere near as bad. I've been "treating" it with ice/heat/analgesic salves and so on. I recently acquired a certain anti-inflammatory gel from xxxxxx
which has really been helpful [too bad it's not available in our great country; maybe our new health care system will rectify that...] Best of all, playing (thumbless) does not aggravate it.
At my lesson today we started out playing a few scales, which led to a discussion about appropriate hand shapes. I then pulled out two Russian pieces I've been working on for the last month or so. [My teacher found these in her files and gave them to me to work on since I'd had so much fun with Tchaikovsky's "Chanson Triste". All the text was in Russian, so we had no idea what they are called or who composed them. A challenge! I eventually contacted one of Y's coworkers, who came here from Russia many years ago. She told me one piece is just titled "Romance" (no composer was listed), and the other is called "Kantilena", by Alexander Gideki, an early 20th century Russian pianist/organist.] The melodies are not very complex and both pieces are 'andante' and mostly stick with quarter and eighth notes, but they both make extensive use of third and fourth positions on the G and D strings, which is just the right thing for me right now.
I'd only begun to learn these 'the old way' so it wasn't very difficult to go back and start over thumbless. I'm almost at the point where I can start thinking about presentation - the rhythms and tempo are fine, the intonation is good, the shifts are almost all OK. So we spent quite a bit of time discussing how to play it, where to emphasize, where to use 4th, where to play in 1st, etc.
We talked a lot about keeping the left hand fingers loose unless they're actually playing. It's OK to let them rest on the string (if appropriate), but weightlessly. The weight of my arm can then be focused only on the finger that is playing. I'd been trying to "think" this as well as the thumbless thing, but not very successfully yet. She suggested I think about vibrating (even if I don't). But more importantly, keeping the weight and balance on just that one finger makes my hand flexible and it makes it a lot easier to do extensions or change positions.