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MY ARMS HURT!!!

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Terez, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    Soooo....I'm practicing the Chopin 25/12. I can barely play it all the way through at performance tempo (which, for the moment, is about 60 to the half note, even though it's marked 80 in Mikuli. Hey....Ashkenazy recorded it at about 66 or so).

    Anyway, I have to perform it in the beginning of December. There are still some kinks at performance tempo, but there wouldn't be ANY if my arms didn't hurt so bad while playing it! lol...I'm making sure to try to relax as much as possible while playing it. But I'm starting to wonder if I will ever build up strength in my arms. I try practicing it in intervals. I'll practice till my arms hurt, and then I'll play Bach for a while, take a break for a while, play Rachmaninoff for a while, take a break for a while, and then come back to it. But I usually can't get any more than 15-20 minutes of practice on it at a time, and that tends to decrease as the day goes on. :( I should start playing it between classes or something...as often as I can...and see if that helps me build strength in my arms.

    Should I try weightlifting? :lol:
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Some will argue this does not help. But I have lifted dumbbells and/or done push-ups most every day for the past year, and I find it does help build up stamina in the arms. I especially notice this while organ playing - when one voice is continuously on the second clavier, as in the Bach Trio Sonatas, this used to be very tiring on arms and shoulders alike (not to mention the poor back). Not anymore now, so I guess it does help.

    Having said that, I recently tried out the Chopin 10-1 again, and was disappointed to find it was just as painful as ever. I guess there's arm pain and arm pain... depending on what particular muscles are protesting. Thought I can't help believing that, generally speaking, any excercises will help.
     
  3. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    At least that's just one arm. :lol:

    Truly, it's probably too late to resort to weightlifting for this one. I'm just going to have to pray that I make it through come jury time without my arms giving out in the middle. It will be even worse when I'm at jury, because nerves make me tense. I'm going to have to meditate on stage for a minute before I play it. :cry:
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh yeah, I've mastered the LH part quite well by now :lol:

    Probably so. But why do you choose such a hefty piece then ? Or is it mandatory ?
    I haven't played the 25-12 for a long time (was never much good at it anyway) , but I can't remember it being especially physically demanding. Perhaps tension is your problem.
     
  5. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I chose it because I've been tinkering with it forever and I got tired of tinkering and wanted to play it. :lol: And I don't really regret choosing it - it's really exhilarating to finally be able to actually play it at performance tempo. I had to commit to performing it before I was ready to take the tempo leap, I guess. It's just painful!

    And I don't understand how the 10/1 could be painful for you, but not the 25/12, unless you were playing the 25/12 at a slower tempo. They're both marked at about the same tempo (well, 176 to the quarter note for 10/1 and 80 to the half note for 25/12), and both involve sixteenths moving all over the length of the keyboard. The pattern is of course different, but each has its quirks.

    And tension does pop up every now and then of course - I have to make a constant effort to stay as relaxed as possible.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    So is running a marathon :lol:

    It's the constant and sometimes near-impossible stretching in the 10/1 that does me in. The 25-12 is hard too but does not present a stretch problem.
     
  7. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I guess the quirk for me with the 25/12 is the contract-and-flex movement - each time you contract and move to a new position, the stretch is the same width (octave). It's the sameness of it that causes tension for me - like my hands are rigid, even though the fingers are constantly moving and the position is constantly ascending and descending. And my hands aren't actually rigid, of course, but they begin to feel that way after a while. :lol:

    Now my shoulders hurt, too. Probably means it's time to give up and go to bed....
     
  8. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I would break up into 6 sections as ABCDEF. and master one section at a time without any orders. That wise your arm wont hurt...slow down abit
     
  9. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    I think I know what your problem is. I'm willing to bet you're trying to contract opposing sets of muscles at the same time, hence the pain.

    Weightlifting might be a good idea, just make sure to use a weight light enough that you could do about 50 reps per set. (You'll also get to show off your bod at the beach) :lol:

    John is right, slow down.
     
  10. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    If the sameness is what's hurting you, undo it. Practice in a way that creates a constant, yet smooth change of angle-of-attack. Hands-separate practice might also be of some use. The LH is doing something very different than the RH.

    Pete
     
  11. hunwoo

    hunwoo New Member

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    Its always the very same rule, practice very slowly.
     
  12. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I can't practice it slowly. It's not really the technique I've got a problem with - it's the endurance needed to play it at performance tempo. I can play any given section perfectly at performance tempo. It's just playing the whole thing that I have problems with. :lol:

    I'm way past the point of practicing hands separate and slow. I'm at the point where speed is required.
     
  13. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Slow practice never outlives its usefulness. Speed will benefit from the relatively frictionless motions of slow, fluid practice.

    Have you ever considered bringing up the tempo one hand at a time? When you can go full speed or faster hands-separate, the full performance will go much better, I promise.

    Pete
     
  14. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I always start out slow each day. But I can't limit myself to slow practice with the performance so close.

    It's the same problem. Either one arm hurts or both arms hurt. ;) If I practice it hands separate, it doesn't accomplish anything but making each arm hurt separately so that I can't get any good hands together practice done, which is what I need. I have to perform it hands together, after all.

    The only time I ever practice hands separate any more is if I want to work out a kink - lately, that's just the left hand parts that are black key octaves with a white key tritone in the middle (there are two measures in the piece where that occurs, and those are the hardest bits) or one measure in the 'recapitulation' at the end that sometimes gives me trouble. To practice the whole thing hands separately is just a waste of strength.
     
  15. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sounds to me that practicing this piece is exercise. You are working muscles that don't get the same kind of workout on other things. So perhaps you will gradually get them in shape by the time December hits and it won't be as painful. Also, I have heard that you are supposed to skip a day in between working certain muscles. When you work muscles, it puts tiny tears in the tissue, and this gives them a chance to heal. Since you have the notes down, maybe this is the answer? Keep us posted on your progress. :)
     
  16. nathanscoleman

    nathanscoleman New Member Piano Society Artist

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    You know, I've experienced this problem too. I didn't play the piano hardly at all for almost 10 years and when I got a piano again, my first piece I wanted to play was the Liszt Dante sonata. Of course, the notes and all were there, but I couldn't play all the way through for a long while. All those little muscles needed time to get back in shape I guess. I can play it through now and seem to be getting stronger all the time.

    Keep going ... it'll happen!!

    Have you tried practicing in different rhythms?? I found it helped me a lot on the 10/4 Etude to build speed. (16 notes = 1 beat + triplet)
     
  17. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    slower playing not slowly. many loops will build up your endurance just like the weight training....
     
  18. Terez

    Terez New Member

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    I do skip a day fairly regularly to let my muscles rest, but I don't feel comfortable skipping every other day. I hope it's enough. :)

    No, I haven't done that - I've practiced without pedal, I've practiced in spurts, for example: only the upward notes, and then only the downward notes; and then upward, pause, and come in on the second beat of the next measure through the upward, repeat. Stuff like that.
     
  19. PJF

    PJF New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Find the fastest tempo that you could play the piece continually for 15 minutes without pain. That's your tempo.

    What tempo is it Terez?
     
  20. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    So if none of above can solve your pain... just play loud on piano..keep it going and let the bodys natural morphine to overcome that pain. And your problem will be solved. Sometimes it would be nice play hard and break the strings. When that happens, you know this is not the right piece for you.


    you need a rest and good luck.....
     

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