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The craft of piano playing

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Anonymous, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well, I could use thumb and any other finger to reach an octave, so thumb and index finger would go too. I think, for octave legato passages it makes sense to switch between fingers 4 and 5 while forming the octave with thumb together. On the g minor ballade there is a suggestion in my Peters score to use 3, 4, and 5 finger together with thumb for those crazy octacve passages in the middle part. It will take hours upon hours for me to get it finally on that passage :roll:
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Juufa, you have my greatest respect for playing the piano while only having 4 fingers :!: :lol:

    It is true though that small but agile hands can be better that large clumsy ones. Size is not all that matters (you may have heard that one before :wink: )
     
  3. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    The "ring" finger is there somewhere, it's just hidden. Behind a clumbsy middle finger.
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Haha. It's a very good trick picture. Very nearly fooled me :wink:
     
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    small hands

    Ok, I had better explain exactly what I mean by "small hands are all in the mind." I find that my small-handed students all tense their hand when they need to reach a large interval. Hand extension and effortful stretching are inextricably linked in their perception. I have them do that part on the demo where I mash my palm down into the keys, and in the end their fingers lie stretched out on the keyboard without any of the usual effort associated with the position. And lo and behold, their fingers actually reach further than they did before. When they then go to play a large interval, I have them start from the 'mashed, super-relaxed' position and then depart from it minimally, so the inner tonus of their hand hardly changes at all.

    Of course a small hand can't reach an 11th or 12th. But if you remove the set of reflexes commonly associated with a small hand, it does become more capable. And you really will feel that your hand is larger, and you really won't feel any more like you have a small hand. Your hand will even LOOK larger; I've seen it many times!

    By the way, my student and employee Jovan doesn't exactly have shares in my company, but he does do a lot of the work developing the website etc.

    Best wishes to all,

    Alan Fraser
     
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    that picture

    I would be interested to know, juufa, does your hand feel totally bizarre and uncomfortable in that position, or does it give you an interesting sense of new movement possibilities on the keyboard?
     
  7. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Mr. Fraser, I too have small hands but fortunately reaching an octave is no problem, nor a 9th. But I'm confused about the section where you explain the hand mashing technique which allows you to stretch further. Where is the arch in the hand when you do this? I thought the arch was the keystone in hand position.
     
  8. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: that picture

    If I did not have a pinkey finger I would say that this position is comfortable; however, with a small 5th finger put into a position like this and with the pressure being placed on it from my hand, I can say that it is uncomfortable and restrictive.

    Despite what Liszt (or the editor of my version) calls for during the octaves in the etude (also what you suggest on your DVD--the 5th and 3rd fingers spanning one octave), I can do the same with my 5th and thumb. Albeit the fact that this piece is much greater than my current skill level, I doubt that I could play it with accuracy and speed comfortably using my technique.
     
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    where's the arch?

    Dear Piano Lady, excellent question! We do seem to be dealing with a paradox here. It turns out that the arch doesn't have to be pronounced to be functional. If you are hyper-collapsed and you even begin to hint at an inner grasping action in the hand, the arch-generation function is already activated, and before your second finger's knuckle has even risen a millimeter, your hand already has the power and functionality that stems from the arch. In many situations the hand needs to be in extension, and it's simply not possible to have a high arch. But we can still benefit from its functional contribution.

    Many hands are different from mine and won't, even when they are fully functional, assume the pronouced arch position easily. Perhaps I should have made that clearer on the video, but I had a lot of info to squeeze into 90 minutes and it was inevitable that some points be presented in rather abbreviated fashion.
     
  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    3-5 octaves

    Dear Juufa, remember the rotation and placing of the hand in that bizarre position is a kind of therapeutic exercise - you'll notice that when I actually play the passage in the demo, it doesn't really look like I am playing legato and actually joining those notes. However, something released somewhere in my hand and my wrist to make the movement not only more flexible but more functional. The moveability of each and every joint is available to the degree necessary. This is different from generic relaxation.

    If you find the position uncomfortable, approach it by degrees. Never force. But gently ease your hand as far into the position as you can COMFORTABLY, and then while there, experiment a little with that rotation movement, see if by doing the rotation in tiny increments you can perhaps increase the ease with which you can sink into that position. It is NOT stretching. Feldenkrais taught us about the stretch reflex: if you stretch a muscle its automatic response is to shorten itself. No, here we are teaching the muscle neurologically, through sensation, how to lengthen more efficiently.
     
  11. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Re: 3-5 octaves

    I only like to say that I have watched and read your demo with much interest, and what you write here sounds very convincing to me too. Even although English is not my native language i consider buying your DVD.
    Only a little thing: although I normally play with curved fingers, my both pinkies tend to remain straight while playing. Someone told me I should do something against this probably bad habbit. Not easy after almost 4 decades of playing. I have seen in your demo that your pinkies weren't curved either. Does it make sense to overcome that habbit in my case?
     
  12. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    bad habit???

    Dear Olaf,

    I have good news, the DVD has German subtitles. More good news: it's a lot more complicated than a simple good/bad habit definition. Some people I might tell to curve their pinkies if I saw that it was hindering their technique in some way. Others I may well say nothing about it because it is not a problem. You have to look at the overall picture. How is your hand's structure and function on the key? What is your sound like? Orchestral? Full? Rich? Many-coloured? Expressive? Bland? Weak? One-dimensional? How does your hand contribute to all of this? Curved, curled or flat are all good depending on what you want to achieve in your sound. A general rule: the juicier the tone you seek the greater the amount of finger flesh you want to have actually contacting the key, and thus the flatter the finger... Horowitz curled his pinkies, it seems that I don't. Who is "right???" I worship him but it seems I don't have the same physical organization, much as though I aspire to it!
     
  13. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you for your reply!

    By the way, you speak very clearly and slowly on the DVD demo, so even for non-native Englishmen it is good understandable, also if there were no foreign subtitles.

    To the thing about whether straight pinkies are a bad habbit or don't care: It shows me of course also the limit a DVD can have: because it cannot dig deeper into the personal habbits and their influence on the playing. Nevertheless, from what you said and what I have seen so far your DVD will be for sure a worthful thing and helps to improve in this or that area.
     
  14. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    personal habits

    About "personal habits:" it's an interesting formulation. Makes me realize that what I am trying to do in the film is to access our basic function, something that doesn't go against personal habit but improves the way in which you do your own personal idiosyncracies no matter what they are. Which is why I hope the film can help even though I am not there personally to see which aspect should be addressed first. The film should act like a sort of template to be laid over, or even better which will underlay, what you are used to doing at the keyboard...

    AFF
     

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