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 Post subject: Avoiding injury....
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:55 am 
I'm a music student at university, majoring in piano of course, and as I am now taking my playing more seriously the threat of injury while playing the piano is something that more and more I find myself worrying about. We pianists are different from most other musicians in that the characteristics of our instrument allows us to spend a great deal more time practicing it than you would be able to with almost any other type of instrument, or even for voice. But if we're not careful there are many problems that can arise from many long hours of practice, and in the end we might be doing far more harm than good by practicing!

My personal view is that one should approach playing the piano like it's an athletic sport. Just as in sports you would spend time prior to actually playing to warm-up and stretch your muscles, so should you before you start flogging the scales at the piano. My warm up includes a number of Hanon exercises, as well as some of Dohnanyi's. I start off easily and not too enthusiastically, and then gradually as I feel things starting to lossen and become more relaxed and flexible, I'll speed things up. I might even play some old pieces or do a bit of sight-reading if I'm so inclined. It usually doesn't take very long, and then I find myself ready to actually start practicing repertoire or technique. Recently I've even thought about even doing stretches for my wrists, simply by using one hand to gently pull on the other. I also find that if I regularly practice every day for a good amount of time, then the less I need to rely on warming up to get ready to play. However, even not touching the piano for a day or two can cause me to stiffen up again and I'll need to spend more time warming up and getting back into the groove of things.

So, what you do to ensure that you get the most out of your practice and avoid causing injuries? Any tips or tricks to help loosen up stiff fingers? Are there specific exercises that you use that you find particularly effective? Are there any Dos and Don'ts that people know for certain about?

Thanks in advance for any input.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 4:57 am 
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Warm-up is one thing to do to avoid injuries but also very important is that you are always aware of what your hands are doing. If that awareness goes away, you might end up crashing into the keys or play in a strained way. Try to feel relaxed and just for very short moments push away over that limit (some say you should never) as for ff chords or very fast passages.
My warm-up is a short process of playing scales slowly with specific tasks for each day. Like accenting certian keys, playing different legato types, playing crescendo etc.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 8:53 pm 
I find this problem especially on cold days. My hands are stiff, and it's hard to do complex passages, or even fast scales. The way I remedy this is by playing a Jazz balad or two. It's slow, so my hands can start to warm up and the chords help me stretch my hands, which is a good warm-up excercise. This really helps me get back to 'normal' on cold days and then I can start playing Beethoven again :D


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 Post subject: Fundamentals of Piano Practice
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 11:16 pm 
Hello DarthDidius,

Familiarize yourself with this online book: "Fundamentals of Piano Practice" - Chuan C. Chang. This is the only work I know of that addresses specific issues of how one should practice -- from warmup, scales and arpeggios, repeated notes, injury avoidance, etc., etc.

You will find invaluable information in over 800 pages of this free publication. Copy and paste it into a MS Word document for your own use -- in this manner, you can highlight, italicise, underline, to your heart's content those sections that are most important to you at any phase in your piano career.

Highly, highly recommended, not just for university students. I wish I knew this information thirty years ago.

members.aol.com/cc88m/PianoBook.html

Cheers,

Joe


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:32 am 
Thank you very much for that info jcfeli! I will certainly look up that book, and from the sounds of it it is exactly what I am looking for.

Thanks again.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 2:02 am 
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how in the heck can you injure yourself playing the piano...besides the fallboard collapsing on your hands :lol: :wink:


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 Post subject: injured pianists
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:37 am 
Ask Leon Fleischer or Gary Graffman how their concert careers were cut short by repetitive stress hand injuries.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 5:00 am 
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Yes, you can basically injure yourself with anything if you grossly overdo it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:27 pm 
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I thought Fleisher had some kind of disease of muscles (or was it nerves)?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:13 pm 
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I thought so too. There's a name for it but I can't remember. His fingers on the left hand (?) curl inward.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:41 pm 
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I think it was the right hand as he was confied to LH repertoire for a long time.
Amazingly, it was finally cured using Botox, an he's back playing both hands now !

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 11:37 pm 
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Wow. I didn't know that. What great relief to him, I imagine.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:52 am 
Quote:
how in the heck can you injure yourself playing the piano...besides the fallboard collapsing on your hands :lol: :wink:


When you practice more advanced level repertoire and technique, trust me, its very easy to practice badly and cause serious damage in the long run.


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 Post subject: Leon Fleischer
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:03 am 
A quick Google search on Leon Fleischer revealed that he lost motor control of the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand, in a condition called focal dystonia. In his case, his two fingers had cramped into a position that he could not release them. Further internet searches on focal dystonia reveals there is a hazard called occupational cramps in musicians who over work their hands.

Recent news has shown that Fleischer has received Botox treatments to help relieve the condition that had plagued him for ~40 years.

Joe


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:47 pm 
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ah yes have to love Botox :lol: So I guess it was not a disease, but a self sustained injury :x


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 7:17 am 
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I thought scriabin had an injury of his hand when he practiced the liszt sonata

is that true?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:58 am 
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rachmaninoff wrote:
I thought scriabin had an injury of his hand when he practiced the liszt sonata

is that true?

Yes it is true (but for that it was the Don Juan Fantasie) and we have this information on our site under "Publications" in the extensive biography of Scriabin.
http://pianosociety.com/cms/index.php?section=634

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 10:48 pm 
I usually warm up with a quick run through of a few Rachmaninoff concertos, perhaps some of Liszt's hungarian rhapsodies.

:lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 1:12 am 
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At the very instant pain is detected, stop playing completely for three days; this is not up for argument. Never practice (physically) more than three days in a row. Every third or fourth day, rest or practice mentally, away from the piano. As in any sport, overtraining is not a viable option.

If it hurts, you're doing it wrong!

Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:38 am 
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Quote:
I usually warm up with a quick run through of a few Rachmaninoff concertos, perhaps some of Liszt's hungarian rhapsodies.

8)
I always warm up with a few quick runs through the Opus Clavicembalisticum. Then proceeed to practice the difficult stuff :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:55 am 
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[quote="PJF"]If it hurts, you're doing it wrong!



YES. :shock:


Last edited by arensky on Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:56 am 
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Quote:
Quote:
I usually warm up with a quick run through of a few Rachmaninoff concertos, perhaps some of Liszt's hungarian rhapsodies.

8)
I always warm up with a few quick runs through the Opus Clavicembalisticum. Then proceeed to practice the difficult stuff :lol:


child's play....

:roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 1:39 pm 
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If you are at a Conservatori You need to practice 6 houres a day (they told me that there) but if you don't play for a day every week I don't think they will accep that do they?

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while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 4:43 pm 
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Well I dont know if this will lead to injury (but it might)....my hands at this time of the year are cold, but the rest of me is warm. This leads my hands to become stiff.

Is there a doctor in the house? Or anyone else who shares the same problem? (especially those who live in the northern part of the world...not you Floridians or Arizonians who complain when the tempurature is at 60degrees :evil: )


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 4:55 pm 
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juufa72 wrote:
Well I dont know if this will lead to injury (but it might)....my hands at this time of the year are cold, but the rest of me is warm. This leads my hands to become stiff.

Is there a doctor in the house? Or anyone else who shares the same problem? (especially those who live in the northern part of the world...not you Floridians or Arizonians who complain when the tempurature is at 60degrees :evil: )


Hey! It's snowing right now! True, the sun is out :shock: and it will warm up this afternoon to about 54 fahrenheit (about 26 celcius I think) and the low tonight is forecast 28 F or about -2 celcius.

I had a student with this problem here in "sunny arizona" :P and I simply had him rub his hands together or keep them in his pockets. I think someone previously in this thread suggested those thermal sand packets or whatever they are.

In Japan not so long ago geishas in training were made to practice the Koto after immersing their hands in frozen water for several minutes, so that they would be able to play in any atmospheric circumstance. :shock:

Try that one....
:D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:24 pm 
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juufa72 wrote:
Well I dont know if this will lead to injury (but it might)....my hands at this time of the year are cold, but the rest of me is warm. This leads my hands to become stiff.

Is there a doctor in the house? Or anyone else who shares the same problem? (especially those who live in the northern part of the world...not you Floridians or Arizonians who complain when the tempurature is at 60degrees :evil: )


you need to check how you are sitting after your grand. And you need to let check your neck. Maybe there are several werbs turned!)

I got a back illness so I know quite something about backs

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:30 pm 
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rachmaninoff wrote:
you need to check how you are sitting after your grand. And you need to let check your neck. Maybe there are several werbs turned!)


I dont have a grand piano..my keyboard sits higher than any piano that I ever played on. (When I play on grands, it is usually in front of people and my left knee tends to bounce a little bit and it hits the bottom of the piano with force) but when I sit at my keyboard I need to lift my foot (3/4ths of it) off the ground to hit the bottom of the keyboard. :x I need to find benches that are a little lower than normal because i have a hard time trying to sit on the bench and have enough space under the piano for my legs. Kinda sucks being 6'3.

I do not know what that has to do with cold hands :roll:

My blood pressure is good between 102/65 to 130/80 (depending when i measure it and what i have done prior to measuring). My resting heart beat is about 68. So I doubt that poor circulation is behind this.

-JG


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:35 pm 
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as I said. Maybe your werbs are sitting wrong. Let also check your hips!

gr,

robert

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 pm 
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rachmaninoff wrote:
werbs



:?: werbs :?:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:18 pm 
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Yes, what is a werb?

Juufa, have you tried drinking a cup of hot coffee or tea before you play. I get cold hands sometimes too. Or you could try a glass of wine. That usually works for me too, but doesn't do much for my playing. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:37 pm 
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sorry wrong word.

vertebra

that's the word I was looking for :roll: My English is very poor Sorry

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:48 pm 
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For the love of God, don't ice your hands before you play! That's probably the quickest route to a torn tendon. Over time, hot water can cause neuropathy.

P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:00 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Juufa, have you tried drinking a cup of hot coffee or tea before you play. I get cold hands sometimes too. Or you could try a glass of wine. That usually works for me too, but doesn't do much for my playing. :)



Coffee = yuck! I hate coffee. Does wonders for your heart and blood pressure and teeth and breath. Oh man that stuff is horrible.

Tea = I like tea. however, (truthfully) after I down a large cup of that stuff it goes right through me and within 15 minutes the tank needs to be drained :wink: :roll: ...doesn't make for a productive time at the "ivories".

Wine = 20 years old. :x I really do not drink any kind of alcohol. I dont have the taste for it.

I prefer milk. MOOOOO!!!!


Secondly, I think I have good posture. I dont slouch too much when playing (need to sight read tiny black dots calls for me to lean over a bit). But again I do not see why posture has to do with cold hands in the months of september through march. (spring and summer my hands are sweaty hot, but in fall and winter they are cool to the touch)

-the juuf


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 11:29 pm 
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Quote:
I prefer milk. MOOOOO!!!!


Then try warm (almost hot) milk. And don't say "Yuck" unless you've tried it. It's not bad. On second thought, maybe it's not a good idea because warm milk makes you sleepy. I drink it when I have trouble getting to sleep. Try hot cocoa, instead. Holding the hot cup warms your hands, plus it tastes yummy and gives you a little sugar kick to perk you up.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 12:21 am 
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So basically what you do is hold something warm in your hands? I see. I like warm milk with a bit of honey. I have tried coffee before and I drank it regularly, then I had a whiff of my own breath and man did it smell like coffee.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:38 am 
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after you warmed up are they after a vieuw minutes cold again?

you should turn your head to the left and right. turn it that far that you can't go any further. If you are over your shoulder your neck should be fine if not you could have a problem with your back of muscles

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 5:57 pm 
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rachmaninoff wrote:
after you warmed up are they after a vieuw minutes cold again?

you should turn your head to the left and right. turn it that far that you can't go any further. If you are over your shoulder your neck should be fine if not you could have a problem with your back of muscles


No, after I warmed my hands with warm water or a hot cup, they remain warm until i stop using them. Then I'd say about 30 minutes after I stopped playing they begin to cool off.

I suffered from daily headaches so after various doctors I was sent to a Physical therapist. She measured my neck's rotation and flexability. She said that something was "not right"...I asked, "what do you mean 'not right'?" She responded that she has never seen a person with a neck that flexible, that I was able to turn my neck, raise and lower my head, far past the average degrees of motion :? . I said, "well that's not bad" She responded,"if it is not normal ,than something is wrong, so it is not too good that you have hypermobility"

...rats! I wish I had that type of flexation with my hands and fingers!


-JG

p.s. call me stupid. because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing and I sliced off a good junk of meat on my right hand ring finger. Guess I wont be playing for a while. :roll:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:34 pm 
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cracky.....
Jufa, before we going too far..whats the outside temperature??? is it icy or like in sydney 25-30C. very nice.

If its cold like around 10-14 degrees...I recommended you to TURN your heater on. This is what I do.

If not too icy, allways remeber to have at least 3/4 stomach full,1 to 1.5 hours before practising, that will keep your meta...running and warm thru out your body.


Sometimes, its better have a warm shower first and it relaes all your muscles and tension around your head. Again, never practice when you are hungry...


I tried with wine before, as a results when I play op53 polonaise, I made more mistakes.....

I hop this helps


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:03 pm 
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I see that you and Steve Irwin share the same vocabulary :wink: Crickey! :wink: :wink:

As of now it is about 1degree Celcius outside. During the days it is around 10degrees Celcius. In my house it is about 25degrees C. (63 degrees Fahrenheit)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:34 pm 
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Quote:
Sometimes, its better have a warm shower first and it relaes all your muscles and tension around your head. Again, never practice when you are hungry...


why not :shock:

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:07 am 
Quote:
Quote:
Sometimes, its better have a warm shower first and it relaes all your muscles and tension around your head. Again, never practice when you are hungry...


why not :shock:


Lost concentration 8)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:30 am 
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hmzz,

It doesn't bother me if I'm hungry or not. Because I'm always concentrated. Sometimes I fall asleep behind the piano at 24.00

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music is enough for lifetime but lifetime isn't enough for music 'rachmaninoff'

while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:47 pm 
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Well I think I'm going to be on the Injured List for a while:

The picture below shows where I feel discomfort and border line pain.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 9:00 am 
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Hmmm, if my hands would look like this I would feel a bit discomfort too, with no muscles and so on... :D

Have you asked a doctor? I hope it gets better after some days of protection, at least that is what I wish for you !!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 11:06 am 
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ahhhhh the lowest circle that's a point where I got some pain to what could it be?

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while composing I've got always an picture in my head 'beethoven'


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:09 pm 
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i think it is caused by typing on the computer and having a higher-than-average keyboard. Most pianos I can touch the bottom of the keyboard with a slight lift of my knee. My keyboard I cannot do that. So that means my wrists will be in a bad position.

I don't go to doctors. What are they going to do about it? :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 3:05 pm 
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Why have you got a higher than average keyboard then ? Not one of these old IBM PC jobs from the middle ages ? You could buy one of these sleek new ones - or sit higher. Sitting too low is never good and this will tax your wrists as well as the rest of your body. If you do a LOT of typing perhaps you've got beginning RSI (though not sure that manifests in the area you indicated). Yes I'd see a doctor or RSI therapist. But get the keyboard and chair sorted out first.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 4:35 pm 
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My keyboard has its own stand which is higher than real pianos. and my chair has a pillow that I sit on. But I have flattened it over the course of a couple of months :x . Maybe this is just a minor glich in my system like a fatiqued muscle.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 4:36 pm 
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my keyboard is I think 10 cm higher than it should be :roll:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 12:16 pm 
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Juufa, it's not just a minor glitch in your system. It's your body sending you warning signals. I know, because I was in the same boat years ago. I used to type a lot, hours without breaks and sitting too low. But what really bothers me the most is using the mouse. A few years ago, I was also practicing piano hard and now when I use the mouse a lot, I get a lot of pain in my wrists, (mostly the right). I thought for sure that I had carpal tunnel syndrome and went to two doctors. One injected cortisone into my wrists, (which wasn't any fun) and also didn't do any good. The other one sent me to a specialist who did a weird test on my arms and hands with electric shocks, and the results came back that it's not carpal tunnel, but tendonitis. They said there is no magic cure.(which made me cry right there in his office, something I don't normally do) I was really hoping it was carpal tunnel and I could get surgery to fix me up. The only thing to do is what the others here have said: sit higher, but also take lots of breaks where you stretch your arms and hands. And I sometimes where arm braces with wrist guards when I'm sitting at my computer. It keeps your wrists from sagging.

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