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#1057115 - 08/03/04 06:23 AM Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
After bragging yesterday that I can reach a ninth, I had my lesson. I asked my teacher for something very "chord-heavy," in the hope that I could improve my chord playing. She gave me Chopin Prelude in C minor, Op 28, #20, which is all chords, all the time. Many of the right-hand chords are octaves with 4 or 5 notes in the chord.

I can only play two measures before my right hand is on fire. The stretches really hurt! What am I doing wrong here? Is it just a matter of grinding through it despite the hand fatigue and pain to build stronger muscles and flexibility? Are there some exercises I should be doing?

I had the same problem with Moonlight Sonata and finally gave up on it.

Cindy -- who was told to name all the chords in the prelude as homework and who may need some help from MattG
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#1057116 - 08/03/04 07:20 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Do NOT "grind" through it! What a mistake that would be. \:\(

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#1057117 - 08/03/04 07:46 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
[.

I can only play two measures before my right hand is on fire. The stretches really hurt! What am I doing wrong here? Is it just a matter of grinding through it despite the hand fatigue and pain to build stronger muscles and flexibility? Are there some exercises I should be doing?

I had the same problem with Moonlight Sonata and finally gave up on it.

Bob is absolutely right. DO NOT GRIND THROUGH it. I thought about working on Moonlight and was told it might hurt my hand too. There are stretches and exercises, I just don't know what they are. Be really careful, Cindy. I gave myself tendinitus with a Schubert piece and it took a LONG time to get over.

Cindy -- who was told to name all the chords in the prelude as homework and who may need some help from MattG [/QB][/QUOTE]
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You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

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#1057118 - 08/03/04 09:03 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
You might be tensing your fingers too much. Even with fingers wide apart, your hand and wrist should be completely relaxed. The only strength your finger should be exerting is right when they contact the keys and they give a little grip. Chords benefit from arm weight, which is basically to let your elbow and shoulder relax totally. The grip on the keys should only last a fraction of a second, after which you basically keep your fingers on the keys and let the weight of your arm follow through. You do not have to keep gripping the keys.

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#1057119 - 08/03/04 09:15 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
If you feel pain, you should stop. Don't try to play through it.

Try this: Play right hand only the first chord. Keep the keys down as you relax your hand, wrist, forearm, upper arm. Once you whole arm and hand is relaxed move to the next chord, and do the same thing. Obviously, you may take several seconds on each chord. Work through a little bit of the piece like that.

If you feel any pain doing the above, stop.

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#1057120 - 08/03/04 09:34 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
I'll reiterate that too.

You do know that the bottom two notes of the 7th full chord (in the 2nd measure) can both be played with the side of the thumb. I have smallish hands (can hit a 9th most of the time) and always stretch the span between the thumb and the rest of the fingers just for fun while doing something passive.
_________________________
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love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#1057121 - 08/03/04 10:38 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
BeeLady Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/02
Posts: 2339
Loc: Massachusetts
I know just what you mean. I have a beginnings of arthritis in both hands, particularly wrists and these chords do hurt. I get lots of good ideas from me teacher who has basically lost her lower thumb joints to the disease and can barely reach a 7th. (But she can still play amazingly well!)

A few tips, shifting arm position to realign your fingers sometimes helps, like swinging your elbow in or out, lining up your lower arm to your hands so you aren't contorting to reach.

We often refinger the music, sometimes changing hands, for a note on the bottom of the right is sometimes easier to play at the top of the left. I have totally rewritten the notes for the chord section of the Brahms Op 118 #2 as it was too difficult and painful to play.

If all else fails, (the "gifted" forum will cringe.. :rolleyes: ) I lop off notes, bottom, middle or top. You may find that one note is played at the same time in different octaves. Eliminating one or the other may not make a huge difference in sound to an untrained ear. Try it both ways and use what works.

My rationalization for this is that pianos now have greater sound and perhaps and A played twice was an effort to bring out the sound in a different sort of piano.. That's my excuse, anyway, and I'm sticking with it! :p

While I would love to be a purist and play all music exactly as written, I am a realist as well. My hands are smaller than many composers and I am NOT a virutoso. I am doing this for pleasure and if it brings pain, well then I adapt or try something else.
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Life is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!

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#1057122 - 08/03/04 01:48 PM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Pianogirl88 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/30/04
Posts: 16
Loc: Canada
I know a lot of you might disagree with me but whenever i encounter chords that I cannot reach I simply stretch! It hurts for a few weeks but within a month I find my hand stretches out and I don't have a problem anymore \:\)

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#1057123 - 08/03/04 09:32 PM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
fiddler Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 17
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
--When you first sit down at the piano--

Before attempting something which is physically demanding: requiring stretches, strength, power, speed, unaccustomed actions which are unusual or difficult for you, _warm up_ for at least 5 or 10 minutes on something which causes your hands no pain or stress -- possibly scales or easy pieces or etudes.

Gradually add more strenuous material as your hands feel ready for it. Tackle the demanding stuff only after your hands are thoroughly warmed up.

I prefer not to do any stretching before my hands (muscles, ligaments, tendons) feel warmed up, and I definitely do not use stretching as a way to warm up.

--Even after you are warmed up--

If you have stressed your hands with all these chords, you may find even usual stretches such as octaves are painful at the moment. If so, back off on your chord and octave playing and give yourself whatever time you need to heal. Probably you can continue to play, but stop short of pain. Work back into the stressful stuff gradually.

You?ve found your limit for the Chopin piece right now is 2 measures or less. Follow all the good advice everyone has given you about playing chords, but pay close attention to what your hands are telling you and stop practicing the chords when you feel pain.

Consider interspersing a small number of the chords every few minutes as you are practicing something else, so you gradually build up your tolerance.

Ask your teacher how to approach the demands of the chords, especially considering the pain you are experiencing.

Best wishes,
fiddler

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#1057124 - 08/03/04 10:27 PM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
MusicMagellan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1157
Loc: NY
All excellent advice! I personally found that, over time, my ability to handle difficult stretches improved as my general playing technique improved. No surprise there.

My main point is maybe you should consider putting aside such pieces for some time ... maybe months, maybe even years. Meanwhile, there are a more than ample number of wonderful pieces you can focus on that don't require such stretches.

Just a thought. (I occasionally have one of those.)

(I heartily agree, from painful experience, with the advice of avoiding unnatural stretching exercises.)
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#1057125 - 08/04/04 12:02 PM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Thanks, everyone! I put the piece aside while I read your thoughts. I'll try it again tonight using some ideas you all had.

Carefully. Very carefully.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

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#1057126 - 08/11/04 11:29 PM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
katie_dup1 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 1838
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by BeeLady:

If all else fails, (the "gifted" forum will cringe.. :rolleyes: ) I lop off notes, bottom, middle or top. You may find that one note is played at the same time in different octaves. Eliminating one or the other may not make a huge difference in sound to an untrained ear. Try it both ways and use what works.
[/b]
Cindyshpinx,
My teacher gives me permission to "lop off notes" .... Thus, I hope to keep this teacher for a long long time \:D .

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#1057127 - 08/12/04 01:40 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
LudwigVanBee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/04
Posts: 83
Loc: USA
 Quote:
I can only play two measures before my right hand is on fire. The stretches really hurt! What am I doing wrong here? Is it just a matter of grinding through it despite the hand fatigue and pain to build stronger muscles and flexibility? Are there some exercises I should be doing?
Cindy, I got an injury last summer from trying to grind through it at the advice of a very young teacher at a local university. I took a summer course there and he instructed us in Schaum's Finger Power. I went at it with the metronome and was getting way up there but I didn't realized I was pounding the keys. I started getting sore fingers but kept on thinking I was strengthing them. At the same time, and this was the cause of the injury. I was trying to learn McDowell's Wild Rose. It has measures where you hold the right thumb while stretching up an octave. I was impatient which causes stress and the stretching started causing pain in RH5. I asked this teacher and he said keep going, just work through it. So I did and the pain got worse. Finally, I realized it wasn't going to improve so I stopped the Finger Power and Wild Rose and everything else for two weeks because I was so p*$%@#*ed at myself and this teacher. I started back very slowly with scales, no stretching, trying hard to be patient and relaxed and the pain diminished. One year later I can still feel the beginning of a little pain in the same spot if I start hitting the RH5 forte or stretch for octaves with stress. Relaxation and patience always alleviates the problem. I think of Arthur Rubenstein who was the model of perfection while playing. I have a DVD showing him sitting solid on the bench, hardly ever moving his upper body, looking extremely relaxed while racing up and down the KB. I strive for his excellence.
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#1057128 - 08/12/04 11:45 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
Mom of 3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/02
Posts: 46
Loc: Mercer Island
Ludwig - I just finished playing Wild Rose. My teacher said to release the lower note where you would have to reach an octave , not because in hurt, but because I had more control on playing the notes that came right after. Sorry the teacher you were working with wasn't as accommodating.

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#1057129 - 08/13/04 02:02 AM Re: Ooooh, My Aching Hand!
LudwigVanBee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/04
Posts: 83
Loc: USA
Mom, thanks for the tip. WIll try this out when I can get back to this piece. I adore it but my new teacher has me back to the basics for awhile. I'm going to copy this tip and put it with the music
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"There are no shortcuts to anything worth doing." Beverly Sills

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