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Wrist pain - Video examples

Discussion in 'Technique' started by robert, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Mmm I actually really agree. I used to have this sorta problem (though only very mild) and cos I was taught the wrong technique-not made aware of how damaging wrist pain is. Now, with my new teacher (for the past 3 years or so), I’ve learnt how to fix it. Okay, admittedly I didn’t really read ALL of what everyone wrote *blushes* cos I’m impatient so this might already be said. Well, I started off with simple excercises and consciously told my wrists to relax. When noticing wrist fatigue, I was told to immediately stop, rest a bit then continue and then consciously relaxing my wrists again. It’s sorta hard but really important to actually tell yourself to drop your wrists and relax. Okay, here’s one of the exercises I did:
    <div> (in triplets)
    (in triplets)
    rh 4 5 4 5 4 5 etc
    ... 1 2 1 2 1 2 etc
    (1-c, 4-f, 2-d, 5-g)
    </div>
    dropping wrist on the first beat, playing slowly, lifting individual fingers high and doing it heavily. Repeat lots.
    Yep, that’s just one of them I did…sorta hard to tell you without physical guidance, aye…:D
     
  2. s_winitsky

    s_winitsky Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    not that I am one to give feed back on this, but it looks like your are sitting just a bit too close to the piano? If you move your elbows together they should just miss your body. I think this would transission a little more weight from your wrists onto your shoulders. I think you might need to be just half an inch higher. Your elbows look like they might be just below the keys, when they should be at the height of the keys or maybe just a bit higher. If you sit to high or too far away, you will start to get back pains.

    b.t.w I think you are an amazing pianist (better then me.) and your web site is amazing so if my comments are inappropriate I appologize. I battle with the same problems some times. You will also have the same problems if you sit on the computer keyboard inappropriately...

    Stan
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Plus that it can't be very good for the keyboard either :lol:
     
  4. pianolady

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

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    :lol: :lol: :lol:
    (sorry, but that is funny)
     
  5. robert

    robert Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    :mrgreen:

    But I understand what you mean. A proper position to the keyboard of any sort is a must. I think the angle in the video camera makes things a bit strange. It looks like I sit too close and also too high but in other videos I've made with a angle right from the side, it looks better.
     
  6. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    ok, I found you,
    Tip for the day. every ones hands and lengths are different. So the palm and finger lengths ratio is different.

    So its pretty hard to say. From my experiences, the knockle height SHOULD be higher than the wrist. Try to keep the wrist flat or levelled to the key but maitained a buffer relaxed position......Does this make sense??
     
  7. Cydonia

    Cydonia New Member

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    Here's an old trick which can tell a lot. Even though it can appear difficult to understand clearly without actually being there. And not to mention my mother tongue is french. But I'll try anyway. :)

    Ask someone like your teacher to flip your hand/wrist/arm away while you're playing. All of a sudden. Without warning (that's the tricky part).

    If your hand/wrist/arm fly away from the keyboard, your technique is OK.

    If your hand/wrist/arm stay locked on the keyboard, you're too tense and/or not using the right set of muscles. For example, if you play too much from the hand, your hand/wrist will be locked to the keyboard when the flyaway wrist test is applied.

    If you feel tension or pain in the top forearm muscle, chances are you're playing too much from the hand and/or fingers alone and/or using too much effort.

    For example, in Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu, a pianist will feel exhausted playing the score at the written tempo before the finale, if he/she plays too much from the fingers. You need to release the tension in the fingers by using the available weight in your arms. In other words, use your fingers more as pivots/fulcrums (not sure how you say that in english) with your whole forearm and arm weight being the available power source to help you play with minimum effort.

    I'm sure you already know that, but this test can remind any pianist if he/she is too tense. Good to use before a concert.
     
  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Hi all,

    I have all of Robert's problems too, most of which surfaced since working on Chopin's Grande Valse Brilliante (esp the last bit with the full octave chords) + Liszt's La Campanella.

    I've been with my teacher for almost a decade and she taught me to keep everything but my fingers stiff. After reading all of the stuff in these forums I realised (albeit too late) that my technique is completely wrong. How long does it take to switch to this proper technique?? I must state that my piano is quite rubbish (it never fails to crack up my tuner) -- its an Indonesian made Barrett & Robinson which has different feel in the upper range than in its lower range (almost like its on the soft pedal permanently), and I can't seem to let its keys push my fingers back up (but it could probably be just me).

    Quick question: do you all hunch or sit straight at the piano? I find it incredibly tiring to sit straight, and when I couple this with the proper technique I end up with a terrible upper body ache after going through the piece about ten times.
     
  9. pianolady

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

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    Hi audiophile,
    In my opinion, one should sit straight at the piano, but loose at the same time so that you are free to move with the music. Maybe since you are used to sitting hunched, your back isn't used to being straight and you need to work up to it. And as I am another one with problems in arms and wrists, I think it is very good that you have found this forum, which has made you aware of these things. The past years, I have known about keeping loose and playing without too much tension, but didn't realize I was doing it so much. Having someone point it out (these discussions and my teacher) has helped immensley.
     
  10. pepasch

    pepasch cooperation is a profession Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Robert,

    I just saw the videos. I agree with your teacher. There is to much tension.

    Instead of lifting your arms into the right position, like a conductors, you seem to hold them in position with force, more like an acrobat does. The acrobat has to be able to use force in any direction, whereas the conductor has only gravity to overcome.

    I think this is the key to solving your problem. Never use force to move in an upward direction. Not with your arms, not with your hand, not with your finger. You only have gravitiy to overcome! Once you've learned this, you will see that your wrist will start to exhibit subtle upd and down movemenst as well.

    Greetings from Peter
     
  11. robert

    robert Active Member Piano Society Artist

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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.
     
  12. pianolady

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

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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.
     
  13. pepasch

    pepasch cooperation is a profession Piano Society Artist

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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
     
  14. pianolady

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

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    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.
     
  15. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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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.
     
  16. pepasch

    pepasch cooperation is a profession Piano Society Artist

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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
     
  17. arensky

    arensky New Member

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    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.
     
  18. John Robson

    John Robson New Member Piano Society Artist

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    relax

    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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