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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:07 am 
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Thanks for all feedback.

Lately, I have noticed that I always bend a little forwards and hold back my weight (so that I do not fall forward) with the use of my hands against the piano and/or my feet. But when I use pedal or play mp or lighter, I compensate by using muscles in my back (and that is at about 50% of all time I play). My back get tired after 30 minutes or so at the piano and I have to take several pauses to no gain pain in my back and I can seldom practise more than 1,5 hours during an entire day. I assume that I leaning forward is what causes this? Do you have an idea? This is not obvious from the video.

Pianolady mentions to sit straight and perhaps I do not achieve the correct gravity drop from sitting like that as pepasch mention.

BTW, I have almost got rid of all pain in my wrist which really is a good thing. Not sure if that is the new piano or that I have focused to relax better the recent time.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:22 am 
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Robert, I think someone may have mentioned that you are sitting too close, but maybe you are sitting too far back and that is why you are leaning forward? If you are close enough, you can't lean forward or you will hit your head, therefore you sit straight and let the arms hang loose so you move them the way you want.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:29 pm 
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Hi Robert,

Sitting to close is consistent with a high tension. Sitting close will bring your elbow in a sharper angle, producing more tension (at relaxation) in your upper arm muscles (triceps lengthened and biceps shortened). Bending forward will bring the elbow in an even sharper angle.

The reason for doing this is, is normaly that an extra muscle tension creates a "sensation" of stability, readiness and assuredness. Loss of that extra muscle tension initialy leads to an actual loss of precision in finger activity (so in micro motoric activity). So the student has to be prepared to go through a phase in which he makes more mistakes, in order to overcome this tension.

But be aware that none of the advices about bodily posture that you will follow will bring you a step nearer to your goal. Adjusting your posture will not by itself lessen your muscle tension. So there is no easy trick for you. The posture will follow a relaxation and not lead to it. ( Mind over matter, relaxation over posture.)

There are some practise techniques that can help you to focus on relaxation and on the optimal use of gravity. Your teacher should be able to help you with that.

Greetings from Peter Schuttevaar


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:46 pm 
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Quote:
Sitting to close is consistent with a high tension. Sitting close will bring your elbow in a sharper angle, producing more tension (at relaxation) in your upper arm muscles (triceps lengthened and biceps shortened). Bending forward will bring the elbow in an even sharper angle.


I kind of disagree with you. To me, sitting farther back means more tension because then not only do you have to hold up your hands, but you also have to reach your arms out more. I have recently been to several piano recitals and performance where I was surprised at how close the performers are actually sitting. I have recently started sitting closer, and I think (although it could be just my imagination) that I am playing better. But as you said, everybody's different and we all have to find what is comfortable.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:30 pm 
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I have same opinion as Monica (Pianolady). I also now try to sit closer to the piano. Because the upper arm should hang down loosely. I used to sit that far away that my knees were before the keyboard. The result was, that the upper arm did not hang down, instead force is needed to get it to another angle instead naturally hanging down.
The right distance seems to be, that the upper arm hangs down relaxed but that the body can move if necessary in order that the elbow has freedom before the body if the hands need to move beside the body in very high or low registers.
So, I for myself try to sit closer now.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:31 pm 
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Dear responders,

I did not mean to hammer on the closeness towards the piano being good or not. I meant to comment on the use of gravity. If the angle of the elbow is either to sharp and if the elbow is to close to the body, relaxation is virtualy impossible (both the case with Robert). Since you will then not be able to either stretch you arm or move your elbow upward in an efficent manner. Either one (or preferably both) of these movements is necesary in order to use gravity when playing for example a chord.

Of course if you sit close, you can also sit very high (like for example Daniel Tiempo) in order to obtain a more relaxed angle of the elbow. Or if you have a very flexible wrist, you can also bring up you elbows more to the side and upwards (like Glenn Gould) in order to obtain more freedom of movemenst for the arm. And thus there are several ways to obtain relaxation.

But apart from the dynamics of piano playing, i can assure you, that a dangling arm will place the fingers in a position, diagonal to the keyboard. Not a good measure for enabling your fingers to perform at an optimum. And that, in turn, is the most important goal to achieve with a bodily posture for a pianist.

Greetings from Peter Schuttevaar


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:04 am 
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Location: Arizona
Jennifer wrote:
I had the same problems with pain in my wrist and it does have to do with relaxation. For years I was taught to prepare but never to relex. Perhaps looser wrists? A tense wrist will cause tension to wrise from the wrist to the arm and all the way to the shoulder. I once injured myself terribly because of tension.

My father (not a pianist or any kind of musician) would always say the following about playing piano: "It is all in the wrists."

And you know, I think he may be right. :D :D :D :D


I think your father's right to a point; loose wrists (or more correctly the ability to loosen them instantly as needed) are essential for a healthy piano technique. I've always had loose wrists, shoulder tension was my issue; it didn't injure or cripple me but it certainly hindered my technical command and ability. The other day I found an old videotape of myself playing jazz in a club 16 years ago; I played well, but how? My shoulders were jacked up to heaven. But after some time of experimentation without a teacher I arrived at a technique that works for me and I believe can work for anyone.

Robert, your tension seems centered in your forearms more than your wrists, although they are so close together that it's hard to tell which is first, like the chicken and the egg. Either way you should remedy this situation as it will lead to carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. You are particularly prone to injury imo because of your highly developed and fluent finger technique. Your fingers are doing most of the the work in your playing, and your tense wrists are literally choking your hand and finger tendons; this will inevitably lead to CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome). Glad that you're already making progress with this. I would do the gravity drops that Chang and many teachers reccomend, that will make you start your playing from a relaxed state as opposed to a tense one. Cydonia's trick is familiar to me, I do that to my students to make sure they are relaxed; without warning I will move in and check their wrists and/or shoulders to make sure there is no extraneous tension. It's the only way to really know what's going on there.

I don't think the cure will be difficult for you, Robert. You are a good pianist and a sensitive musician and are working to correct the problem. There may be a nessacary period of adjustment as your technique changes from angular to fluid (or actualy a combination of the two). Pick your repertoire carefully and with a mind for working these problems out and obtaining the relaxed state that you desire.


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 Post subject: relax
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:54 pm 
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Location: Miami, Florida, USA
When I was playing a difficult passage at a lesson many years ago, the teacher stopped me and told me to relax my lips and mouth. Believe it or not, it helped me with the passage. I've tried it since, but it doesn't always work.

No three pianists will ever completely agree on proper technique. One teacher told me to relax my elbows, not move my wrists, and lift my curved fingers very high while I practice very slowly.

Now I don't agree with holding my wrists still. They should just be as relaxed as possible and naturally move with the arms and hands. Does that make sense?

I shouldn't give advice because I sometimes have the same problem you are describing.

At least I'm typing with curved fingers and relaxed wrists.


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