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Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
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#1449335 - 06/03/10 09:12 AM Relax fingers during play... some advice?
LaRate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
I have the problem that I tend to stretch especially my thumb and sometimes my pinky too sideways into the air whenever i play with 2, 3 or 4.

My teacher told me to try and relax the fingers I'm not currently using, letting the dumb lie relaxed on the keyboard. However, whenever I try, I either accidently play the key below the thumb or - trying to prevent that - cramp my fingers even more to keep the thumb from pressing the key.

This is especially apparent whenever I play broken chords (it seems to get worse the more a chord stretches).

I just can't seem to achieve something near a relaxed playing - even with pieces I know inside out. I'm kind of frustrated because I ran out of ideas how to overcome this...

Any advice?

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#1449427 - 06/03/10 11:23 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: LaRate]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5636
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Try slowing wa-a-a-a-a-a-y down smile . Take it one note at a time to start. Notice not just your fingers but your shoulders and your jaw (ask me how I know). It's gotten to where I'm most relaxed when I'm at the piano because I know that I can only play as well as I want when I'm relaxed. It'll take awhile to get the hang of it, but you'll be so pleased with the results when you do that it'll be worth it.

I also try to notice whether my hands are tensed or "easy" when I'm just walking around - down to the grocery store or the post office or where ever. I tend to be a fairly tensed-up person, and it helps a *lot* in my every day life to remember that I love the piano even more when I'm relaxed smile

Cathy
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#1449446 - 06/03/10 11:44 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: jotur]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Do you stick your elbow out when you brush your teeth? When you drink from a mug?
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#1449543 - 06/03/10 02:53 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
LaRate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Do you stick your elbow out when you brush your teeth? When you drink from a mug?

Yes to the first, no to the second.

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#1449619 - 06/03/10 04:32 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: LaRate]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Should be no to both. Try it.
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#1449645 - 06/03/10 05:04 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
blueston Offline
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Registered: 08/28/09
Posts: 273
Loc: MA, USA
My Piano teacher would always say to place your hands down gently in your lap (or on your legs), often right before you begin to play. It should then be the same relaxed feeling when you play.

But this finger independence takes time to develop and should not be expected of beginners.

Scales or Hannon exercises would probably help a lot.

Make sure you are not still pushing on the key after you have struck it. This will add tension. Once you have struck the key, continually pressing (hard) does nothing except waste energy and introduce tension. Strike a key then immediately relax so the finger only rests gently on the key. Use just the weight of you hand to keep it held down (don't make your finder do all the work). Do this slowly thru an entire piece to get the idea. Press. Relax. Next note-> Press Relax. Next note-> Press. Relax

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#1449752 - 06/03/10 08:17 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: blueston]
Andy Platt Online   content
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It takes a lot of focus to "get" not having your fingers shoot off all over the place (I'm not all the way there yet). And relaxation, though important, is not quite what is needed here. My totally relaxed hand can show all sorts of strange movements if I raise one of the fingers. What I have to do is focus, focus, focus on keeping the other fingers still independently.

One simple exercise that I find useful. Rest all fingers on keys (C through G). Now, one finger at a time. C-D-C-D-C-D-C-D,E-D-E-D-E-D-E-D,E-F-E-F-E-F-E-F,G-F,G-F-G-F-G-F and back down. Make sure only one finger goes up and down at a time and that it returns to it's starting position. It's harder than it sounds.
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#1449890 - 06/04/10 01:18 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Andy Platt]
keyboardklutz Offline
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+1 on the last two posts. Making fingers independent is just as much a matter of ignoring the others as bringing any one finger to the fore.
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#1449948 - 06/04/10 04:17 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
LaRate Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
Thank you for all the advice. I will surely be trying some things out.

One thing that occured to me yesterday: it might also have something to do with my wrists tending to be too low if I don't pay attention. Since I'm typing the majority of my day at work, maybe I kind of hard-wired that hand position (wrists resting on the desk) in my brain.

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#1449954 - 06/04/10 04:35 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: LaRate]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Wrist resting on the desk sounds really good. Kalkbrenner (and Liszt) used a similar device (called a hand rail) to teach beginners. As you play try and feel your forearm flexors add only enough tension to keep your wrists level, and no more.
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#1450320 - 06/04/10 05:32 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: LaRate]
AlleyKatt Offline
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Registered: 10/28/09
Posts: 119
Loc: Wisconsin, USA
Originally Posted By: LaRate
One thing that occured to me yesterday: it might also have something to do with my wrists tending to be too low if I don't pay attention. Since I'm typing the majority of my day at work, maybe I kind of hard-wired that hand position (wrists resting on the desk) in my brain.


It's so funny but I made this exact observation just this week!! My pinky, especially on my right hand, has a mind of it's own. It just wants to stick up in the air all the time. I noticed that when I raised/leveled my wrists, my pinky finger would remain on the keys much better than when my wrists were low. I really have to concentrate and work on this but I'm certain that keeping the wrists at the proper level will help a lot.

I find it ironic that we have to work so hard just to relax!!

AK
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#1450323 - 06/04/10 05:38 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: AlleyKatt]
Morodiene Online   content
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Also be sure that you are sitting at a proper height, too. It should be high enough so that your forearms are parallel with the keys when you rest your fingers on the keys, without having to lift your shoulders or stretch up the back in any way.
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#1452135 - 06/07/10 05:14 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gyro Offline
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Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
This whole business about relaxation during playing is just
so much piano quackery and charlatanism, in my view.
This of course has great appeal to people because relaxation
implies lack of effort. You'd best forget you ever heard
about it.

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#1452174 - 06/07/10 06:02 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Gyro]
bluekeys Offline
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Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 1337
Originally Posted By: Gyro
This whole business about relaxation during playing is just
so much piano quackery and charlatanism, in my view.
This of course has great appeal to people because relaxation
implies lack of effort. You'd best forget you ever heard
about it.


I would also suggest drinking several shots of espresso and smoking a few cigarettes before practice. You may even find an MD willing to prescribe some derivative of methamphetamine to get you into a proper state of agitation before a performance.

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#1452284 - 06/07/10 09:28 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: bluekeys]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
KBK and Morodiene, how do I keep my hand relaxed when I'm playing right hand chords in which the melody is in the lower notes so I have to bring out the melody with my thumb and 2nd finger? I know volume should come from the shoulders and back but how do I do it with only part of my hand? (I'm talking about Brahms 119 #3.)

Thanks.
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Deborah

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#1452403 - 06/08/10 01:25 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Drop 'n Flop but distribute the weight/force so the melody notes get more.
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1452561 - 06/08/10 10:35 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Drop and Flop! I like that! laugh
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Best regards,

Deborah

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#1452579 - 06/08/10 11:11 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Originally Posted By: gooddog
KBK and Morodiene, how do I keep my hand relaxed when I'm playing right hand chords in which the melody is in the lower notes so I have to bring out the melody with my thumb and 2nd finger? I know volume should come from the shoulders and back but how do I do it with only part of my hand? (I'm talking about Brahms 119 #3.)

Thanks.


I know that I am not KBK and Morodiene, but hope this helps:

Several advanced technique books (Pishna is one, Joseffy another, Isidor Phillip another) have a number of exercises devoted to exactly that.

In a nutshell, those exercises have the player play hold one or more whole or half notes, and simultaneously play other notes (typically 1/8 or 1/16 notes) with fingers that are not holding the first notes.

It is difficult at first, because you have to maintain just enough tension (strength?) in the hand and in the fingers that are holding the whole notes so that that construction is stable, yet not a bit more, so that the remainder of the hand is as relaxed as possible. Meanwhile, the fingers that are playing the 1/8 notes are as free as possible.

It is mostly a mental effort, and best done extremely slowly and in small bites until you get the hang of it. (you play a note, re-relax the entire hand while maintaining the form, then focus on playing the next note, re-relax everything, etc.) One note every few seconds is a good pace.

It has done wonders for not only the playing situation you describe, but for my finger independence in general.

Here is a link:

http://www.amazon.com/Pischna-Technical-...;sr=8-1-catcorr

Here is another, haven't seen this book, but it looks good:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0739019090/ref=dp_proddesc_1?ie=UTF8&n=283155
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#1452877 - 06/08/10 06:19 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: rocket88]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Thanks rocket88, but the problem isn't holding some notes while playing others in the same hand. I get plenty of practice with that in Bach. I'm talking about playing a series of quick 8th note chords in which the melody is played with the thumb or 2nd finger and the other fingers are deemphasized.
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Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453091 - 06/09/10 01:27 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Of course you do realize it's really done by your ear? You must experience the thrill of a melody soaring over the accompaniment.
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#1453278 - 06/09/10 11:19 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
KBK, now you are contradicting yourself. I thought I was supposed to do it from my belly. laugh

Seriously, it's interesting you say that because my past teacher pointed out that I get swept away listening to the (perfect) music playing in my head rather than listening with my ears to what's actually coming out of the piano. So you are suggesting, correctly, that I listen better...plus drop and flop.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453294 - 06/09/10 11:34 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Don't be shy, let that tune soar!
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1453299 - 06/09/10 11:43 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Got it. Thanks!
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453301 - 06/09/10 11:44 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Of course you do realize it's really done by your ear? You must experience the thrill of a melody soaring over the accompaniment.


If it were really done by the ear, it would be no harder to bring out inner voices than upper ones. Does anyone seriously believe that to be the case? It's done by knowing HOW to bring things out. Anyone who has ever heard someone bring out an inner line can put the sound in the sound in their head easily. That doesn't mean they can do it. However, I think the widely held belief that it's by your ear certainly accounts for how many people think they are bringing out inner voices but actually fail miserably at revealing them to the listener. Ironically, I think the best judge of inner voices is not to listen specifically for them. If they still present themselves to you, they will also present themselves to the listener. Go out of your way to listen for them, and you're not listening in the way that an impartial listener would. Something that's truly voiced properly does not need to be listened out for. The most ordinary listening should be enough to detect success. It's the means which of achieving that success which is difficult.

Dropping and flopping is hardly likely to help much either. It's all very well for one isolated chord, but in the middle of a legato passage? The simplest way to voice is to activate the fingers into the keys properly.
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#1453309 - 06/09/10 11:58 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
If it were really done by the ear, it would be no harder to bring out inner voices than upper ones. Does anyone seriously believe that to be the case?
Yes.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1453322 - 06/09/10 12:12 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
KBK, (if I may defend you) is known for his succinct answers that say much more than the words. I believe he was referring to focusing on the intention to play the melody notes. Inward focus manifests as outward expression. I also interpret his "drop and flop" to mean relaxed weight with emphasis on the side of the hand carrying the melody. It works for me.
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Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453332 - 06/09/10 12:21 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I believe he was referring to focusing on the intention to play the melody notes.
Thanks, your post is far better put than mine. Realizing your intention to walk home is not dependent on your knowledge of human physiology - though knowing where you live helps. Realizing your intention to hear what you want to hear likewise.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1453342 - 06/09/10 12:33 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
If it were really done by the ear, it would be no harder to bring out inner voices than upper ones. Does anyone seriously believe that to be the case?
Yes.


Then obviously you are unaware of the fact that the human ear is automatically drawn more towards the higher pitches in chords. So to bring out an inner voice requires more differentiation than to bring out an upper voice.

There's an interesting exercise that illustrates what a lot of nonsense the idea that the difficulty lies in the ear is. Play 5 notes from C to G repeatedly as a cluster. Bring out the melody of a nursery rhyme clearly enough for an impartial listener to identify it. You must play all 5 notes every time. Still think that the difficulty lies in the ear? I can't say that I find it terribly difficult to know which finger and note I intend to voice, or to imagine the nursery rhyme. But perhaps kbk is limited only by his ears rather than his physical means here? And presumably any conductor with good ears could do this, regardless of whether they have played the piano before?

Walking home is of little relevance. Almost everyone can walk. Very few pianists know the physical means to voice like Horowitz. So they need to learn to 'walk' first- not be told that they don't know their own address. If someone already knows what they want to bring out but can't do so, to go on about the ear really is like telling them their own address.
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#1453352 - 06/09/10 12:46 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Sheesh, just when I thought PW was getting boring!
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#1453372 - 06/09/10 01:12 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
paquijote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 25
I second the advice given by Andy Platt, but would just like to add something not mentioned in it: When doing this exercise (SLOWLY is the key!) take the time to hold whatever key you are depressing against the keybed, and make a conscious effort to completely relax your forarm, wrist or wherever else you may be feeling EXCESS tension (there must be some tension involved to play the piano). Also, be sure that the finger currently in use isn't carrying all the workload keeping that key depressed! Allow the weight of your hand, wrist and arm to keep the key depressed. This should, with slow practice, release the majority of the tension felt in your finger.

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#1453408 - 06/09/10 02:04 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
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Loc: Seattle area, WA
Nyiregyhazi, do you have any idea how obnoxious you sounded? I don't know if that was your intent, but it sure came across that way. We were having a nice civil conversation and "bam" you came in with a sharp tongue. That's counterproductive. Maybe read your posts before you actually post them. Cheesh.

Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Then obviously you are unaware ...There's an interesting exercise that illustrates what a lot of nonsense... ... But perhaps kbk is limited only by his ears rather than his physical means here? And presumably any conductor with good ears... Walking home is of little relevance. Almost everyone can walk.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453417 - 06/09/10 02:15 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
I find it extremely obnoxious for somebody claim that it's as easy to bring out lower voices as upper ones. Hence the reciprocatory tone, and the illustration of how dubious such bravado filled claims are.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1453422 - 06/09/10 02:21 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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No, I'd better not.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1453425 - 06/09/10 02:24 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
How are you getting on with the exercise, by the way kbk? Are you finding it as easy to bring out a clear rendition of three blind mice from the cluster, as the upper note? Is it as easy as you claim? Or are your "ears" letting you down?
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#1453427 - 06/09/10 02:29 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I did Ode to Joy. Yeh, no great shakes.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1453428 - 06/09/10 02:29 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
gooddog Offline
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Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
No, I'd better not.
You're right. Don't feed the....
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453429 - 06/09/10 02:29 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
I should love to hear it.
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http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1453432 - 06/09/10 02:32 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
KBK...DON'T.
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Best regards,

Deborah

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#1453435 - 06/09/10 02:37 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: gooddog
KBK...DON'T.
A 20 sec experiment is one thing. Recording, uploading etc is totally another. Besides as you say, it'll only be feeding...
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#1453437 - 06/09/10 02:42 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
The problem is, your experiment proves nothing unless another person can distinguish what tune you are playing. And you must be able to to do this with all the other notes plyed ppp and the melody played mf, as well as with all the other notes played forte and the melody played fortissimo.

Otherwise it's clear that your claim that it's as easy to bring out lower voices as the top is exposed as pure bravado.

PS. I know people who really can do this. However, it takes extremely cultivated physical means. If the ear were truly the hard part, any conductor could do it. The conception of one note in a chord being notably projected over the others really is not hard. The execution is extraordinarily difficult, however.
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#1453567 - 06/09/10 06:21 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
jotur Online   blank
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Posts: 5636
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Hi klutz! I love it when I begin to hear counter melodies and other melodic lines in pieces. I second (or third, or however many) the notion of hearing better.

Did you know that my band is going to Wyoming next week to play in a Celtic festival? (Just trying to give you something to reply to and perhaps distract you from the. . . smile )

Cathy
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#1453574 - 06/09/10 06:34 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: jotur]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Nyireghyazi is in no way a troll. That is a rude and pityful insinuation.

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#1453602 - 06/09/10 07:16 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: LaRate]
onlinepianoplayer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/08/10
Posts: 2
My advice will be to take you time and don't rush things. Practise the key here. Take it slowly and practise playing slowly. You need to be able to move each finger independently of each other. It is kind of hard because our muscle memory stuffs us up. We have to reprogram ourselves.

Practise, practise and practise. And slow down and relax.
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#1453634 - 06/09/10 08:05 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: landorrano]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Nyireghyazi is in no way a troll. That is a rude and pityful insinuation.
Maybe so, but he sure is cranky.
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Deborah

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#1453678 - 06/09/10 09:28 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Call, me what you like. I'm not interested in slanging matches. I'm interested in rational understanding of how to control voicing. I'm not a fan of the snake oil approach that puts it all down to the ear alone (aside from a little general vaguery about certain fingers being firmer- that helps very little unless you have already internalised the sensation). The ear is the means of feedback, not the means of execution.

If you want a simple method that actually permits notable and rapid progress (without the implication that your ears must be at fault, should you fail to make it), practise holding the note to be voiced while flicking that which is not as short as possible. No weight goes into the upper note, only a finger flick. But you support your arm greatly on the note which is to be voiced. Hey presto, return to normal and the lower/inner note should almost instantly start to come out more easily. And all without putting across the implication that anyone who fails to aquire the physical means bring out out the lower voice (simply by intending to) must have cloth ears. The same exercise is also useful for distinction between upper notes and accompaniment. I've seen it make a world of difference in the first movement of the moonlight. The fifth is held and everything else is staccato. Then return to legato but remember the distribution of weight. You don't need superhuman hearing to voice notes at will. Those with perfectly ordinary hearing can do it when they know how it's done. I've always seen instant improvement when using this with students.

The ear is what is responsible for controlling long-term phrasing and shaping. The ability to highlight any note in a single chord is physical. If you already know that you want to bring a note out, you need to work on the means of doing so. Forget the mind or ('ear') over matter approach. It's a dead end for all but the lucky.
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#1453789 - 06/10/10 01:51 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Whose implying anyone 'must have cloth ears'? - that's inflammatory. I'm just saying your body knows best. How do you think an animal stalks its prey? Telling itself which foot to put forward softest?
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#1453825 - 06/10/10 04:15 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
If it's primarily done by the ear, failure to achieve it is hence to be blamed on the ear. Hardly advanced logical thinking.
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#1453885 - 06/10/10 08:41 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: gooddog]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3238
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: gooddog
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Nyireghyazi is in no way a troll. That is a rude and pityful insinuation.
Maybe so, but he sure is cranky.


Not in my perception. Though he does get that way at times.

KBK has merely restated the Inner Game of Tennis approach to voicing - that focusing on the intended results will get you there without knowledge of the mechanics being necessary.

It actually works for some people. Probably it works for KBK. It utterly fails for me. (Once a skill is learned, that IS how it is executed. Learning is a different matter.)

Can you play an SATB hymn and bring out any given part? Of course. Any experienced player can.

Can I? Nope. It's beyond my current skill, but I'm getting close. Last year when I tried it was so obviously hopeless I put it on the shelf, apparently I'm improving. Now that it looks doable, I'm doing some specific exercises to help.

Can I listen to an SATB hymn and follow any given part, even if the parts are exactly equal volume? Of course. I've been able to do that for at least 40 years. So it's not my ears that are the problem.

Can I listen to myself play equal volumes and fool myself into thinking I'm bringing out the alto part? Oh, absolutely. That's one skill that's within everyone's grasp.
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#1453907 - 06/10/10 09:56 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: TimR]
BB Player Online   content


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2714
Loc: Not in Texas
Folks.

I've received 6 report posts on this thread that basically are asking people to be nicer to each other. While it is certainly desirable that the ABF, and Pianoworld are friendly, welcoming places where we can learn and grow together, as with any large "family" there will be people who disagree. Sometimes, they won't do it in as friendly a way as onlookers might like.

However, the other moderators and I are not in the business of policing "tone". As long as people don't engage in name calling, profanity or other prohibited behaviors they're free to argue a point back and forth ad infinitum (and believe me, some will). If you lose interest in the discussion, tune it out. If you find particular forum members consistently irksome, use the forum "ignore" feature.
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Greg

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#1453916 - 06/10/10 10:23 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: BB Player]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
I came across this quote from Russell Sherman, and I was curious how people thought it fit into this discussion:

"The hand should be quiet, tranquil, floating. It is supported by the spine, whose stable strength is cantilevered through the shoulders and elbows, which, in turn, support the weightless and buoyant hand at rest. But in motion the hand channels the torso's energy, echoing and concentrating the body's disposition, the heart's disposition toward contraction and release.

The fingertip sinks into the key, secure but free. The entire apparatus, from tip to toe, through the arms, torso, and legs, hangs gently off the nexus between flesh and key. The motion is up and down, north and south, lined up on the axis formed by key, finger, and elbow. The fingertip adheres possessively (but tenderly) to the key, like a child suckling, like a monkey swinging off a branch firmly grasped by its limb or tail. The contact is sealed, flowing, momentarily eternal."

I know it isn't exactly a scientific description of how to play a note on the piano. Perhaps a bit too metaphysical, but I found it interesting nevertheless.

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#1453962 - 06/10/10 12:15 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1228
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
If you want a simple method that actually permits notable and rapid progress (without the implication that your ears must be at fault, should you fail to make it), practise holding the note to be voiced while flicking that which is not as short as possible. No weight goes into the upper note, only a finger flick. But you support your arm greatly on the note which is to be voiced. Hey presto, return to normal and the lower/inner note should almost instantly start to come out more easily. And all without putting across the implication that anyone who fails to aquire the physical means bring out out the lower voice (simply by intending to) must have cloth ears. The same exercise is also useful for distinction between upper notes and accompaniment. I've seen it make a world of difference in the first movement of the moonlight. The fifth is held and everything else is staccato. Then return to legato but remember the distribution of weight. You don't need superhuman hearing to voice notes at will. Those with perfectly ordinary hearing can do it when they know how it's done. I've always seen instant improvement when using this with students.

The ear is what is responsible for controlling long-term phrasing and shaping. The ability to highlight any note in a single chord is physical. If you already know that you want to bring a note out, you need to work on the means of doing so. Forget the mind or ('ear') over matter approach. It's a dead end for all but the lucky.

Now that's a good post, Nyiregyhazi -- useful, specific information, and no overt insults. Thank you! BTW, I think you'll find a lot less animosity directed toward you if you can keep that tone in your future postings.
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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#1454007 - 06/10/10 01:53 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: MaryBee]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Nice one Mosheles!
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1454024 - 06/10/10 02:22 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
moscheles001 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/08
Posts: 753
Loc: Northeast Pennsylvania
Thanks, KBK. I just wonder if it's relevent to the discussion. It seems as if it may be, but I'm not sure how. It's certainly a beautiful description of what playing freely feels like.

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#1454028 - 06/10/10 02:26 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: moscheles001]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
100% OT and a beautiful read to boot!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1454055 - 06/10/10 03:18 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: MaryBee]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: MaryBee

Now that's a good post, Nyiregyhazi -- useful, specific information, and no overt insults. Thank you! BTW, I think you'll find a lot less animosity directed toward you if you can keep that tone in your future postings.


If you read my other posts, I think you'll find that I'm not a habitually rude person. However, I don't respond well to such things as flippant bravado, based on ignorance/wishful thinking (whichever you choose to regard it as). Also, my post did not contain any insults. It simply corrected the erroneous notion that it is as easy to voice middle parts as upper ones. There are both various scientific (specifically acoustical) and physioglogical aspects that can very easily prove that is not true. I stated these in my post, in order to to refute kbk's claim. Read that as rudeness if you will. But it was actually a factual correction and an explanation of why an analogy based on walking (which almost everyone can already do) is of scarcely any relevance regarding something that few people do to a high standard.

Calling someone obnoxious or a troll, however?
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1454115 - 06/10/10 05:12 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1228
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Calling someone obnoxious or a troll, however?
Yeah, well, that too. frown
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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#1454116 - 06/10/10 05:14 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: moscheles001]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1228
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: moscheles001
"The hand should be quiet, tranquil, floating. It is supported by the spine, whose stable strength is cantilevered through the shoulders and elbows, which, in turn, support the weightless and buoyant hand at rest. But in motion the hand channels the torso's energy, echoing and concentrating the body's disposition, the heart's disposition toward contraction and release.

The fingertip sinks into the key, secure but free. The entire apparatus, from tip to toe, through the arms, torso, and legs, hangs gently off the nexus between flesh and key. The motion is up and down, north and south, lined up on the axis formed by key, finger, and elbow. The fingertip adheres possessively (but tenderly) to the key, like a child suckling, like a monkey swinging off a branch firmly grasped by its limb or tail. The contact is sealed, flowing, momentarily eternal."
Oh wow. But how do I actually do that?? confused

Maybe someone can post a video... grin
_________________________
Mary Bee
Current mantra: Play outside the box.
XVI-XXXVI

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#1454147 - 06/10/10 06:05 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: MaryBee]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7099
Loc: So. California
If the discussion is kept to the topic and not be personal, I think this is quite useful. So let's keep the debate to the issues at hand.

I was able to do an Ode to Joy melody with the 5 fingers as Nyiregyhazi put as a challenge. But I could only do in the Steinway. It was close to impossible to do it on the digital!

I thought this was a very nice technical exercise. Nyiregyhazi, is this the best kind of practice for this? Or is there something more difficult than the C-G position? I find it is not as hard with less fingers of course since I do this inner voicing thing with jazz chords all the time. It is not as hard too with two hands and inner voicings being highlighted by the thumbs and forefinger.

BTW - I think there's not much disagreement here. It's all about very fine points. Obviously Kbk, meant that the ear is the feedback mechanism, which it obviously is. But I would have assumed it to be common sense that feedback requires action and I thought that was implied.

Nevertheless, the specific descriptions given of a finger flick was helpful.
_________________________
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#1454245 - 06/10/10 09:01 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: LaRate]
photowriters Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 180
Loc: Kansas City
Here is a tip from The Inner Game of Golf by Timothy Gallwey. (Yes, I know that a piano will not fit in a golf bag and a golf club is not a suitable device for playing the piano.)

Gallwey's tip about reducing tension in the golf swing worked for me the first time I tried it, and the technique should transfer directly to your fingers. Have you ever noticed that you cannot relax by telling yourself to relax? (Kind of like the "Don't think about an elephant" paradox.) If you put correcting an "error" in a complex body movement into the front of your conscious mind, it is very difficult to correct that "error" without screwing up something else. The conscious mind cannot concentrate on very many things at the same time.

The technique Gallwey recommends (and it works in golf) is to perform the action but try to recognize any unwanted tension. Don't try to eliminate the tension. Let your subconscious do that for you. When you play, see if you can locate where the tension lies. You might be surprised to find that the root is somewhere other than the hands such as the lower back or shoulders.

Once you've determined where the tension resides, stay aware of that tension as you play, but don't consciously try reduce it. The second part of the solution is to allow yourself to make mistakes. None of us like to play the wrong note, but even if we do the consequences a minimal. We will not be lined up against the wall and shot. The FBI will not come an arrest us. Etc.

If you allow your self to make mistakes and remain aware of where the tension is located, your subconscious can work on eliminating the tension as you play. Usually we are filled with tension during certain difficult passages in the music. Play such a passage several times allowing yourself to make errors while remaining aware of both where the tension lies and how much tension there is without trying to reduce the tension. If you do that, I'll bet that the tension in your hands drops significantly with each repetition.

Like I said, I did that with my golf swing and the results were amazing. In just a few swings the tension went away and the ball started going longer and exactly where I was aiming. The principles should apply to any sort of performance tension. I'd be interested to hear the results. I admit that I haven't tried it with the piano yet, but I plan to do so.
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Bob

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#1454278 - 06/10/10 10:02 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: photowriters]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3238
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: photowriters
Here is a tip from The Inner Game of Golf by Timothy Gallwey.

The technique Gallwey recommends (and it works in golf)


I think this is a directly relevant comment. As I pointed out before, I think the KBK approach to this problem is basically the Gallway Inner Game approach.

I disagree with your statement that it works in golf. Rather, it works for you in golf. I've read the Gallway books - Inner Tennis, Inner Golf, Inner Skiing, I think there's a music one too though I haven't seen it.

They do not work for me, and I've given them some extensive effort in a number of sports. They do work for my brother, in the same sports.

It is a matter of personal learning styles, and I've come to believe that these are hardwired and fixed. I can no more learn the Inner Game way than my brother can the analytical mechanics way.

I wish that I could. A large number of the top athletes and musicians seem to be Inner Game types. But emulating their learning style leads to frustration rather than mastery for some of us.
_________________________
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#1454364 - 06/11/10 12:17 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: TimR]
photowriters Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 180
Loc: Kansas City
Originally Posted By: TimR
I disagree with your statement that it works in golf. Rather, it works for you in golf. < ... > They do not work for me, and I've given them some extensive effort in a number of sports.

They should work for you as well.

Quote:
It is a matter of personal learning styles, and I've come to believe that these are hardwired and fixed.

I don't think so. I am an analytical learner, and I tend to over think the golf swing. I know why balls go where they do and what I've done wrong to make them go there. In the 15 years or so that I've been playing the game, I have not been able to make a stable, repeatable golf swing despite all my knowledge, analytical ability, and countless hours on the practice range. The difference was learning Inner Game techniques/skills of allowing me to make mistakes and locating the source of tension (lower back and hip girdle for me).

The Inner Game techniques/skills would not have worked unless I had spent time with mechanical practice and analyzing what I had done wrong. The mechanical drills and knowledge are necessary for learning the game, but the Inner Game released me to execute the swing without tension and/or doing things in steps.

Despite the Inner Game, I still have to be conscious of certain mechanical things like keeping my head as still as possible and dropping my right elbow to my side early in the swing. Likewise, a pianist must keep certain mechanical things in mind every time he/she plays, like time or posture.
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#1454376 - 06/11/10 12:40 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: photowriters]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Yeh, it is very Inner Game and I do have Skiing, Tennis and Music not that I'm consciously borrowing - if it's right, it's right. I find the body carries out your wishes. Consciousness' job is to constantly scan for unnecessary tensions. As an example:

To place the shoulders correctly I get students to roll the shoulder forward, up and back - always one at a time a la Esther Gokhale. Always they stick their neck out and tense their chest (6 pack). Whilst doing this routine consciousness should concentrate on stilling the neck and chest - the body will carry out the shoulder movement without you attending to it.
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#1454579 - 06/11/10 11:05 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3238
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Yeh, it is very Inner Game and I do have Skiing, Tennis and Music not that I'm consciously borrowing - if it's right, it's right.


Sorry, this is "one-size-fits-all" thinking.

Your body carries out your wishes.

These techniques work for some and fail miserably for others.
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#1454607 - 06/11/10 11:58 AM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: TimR
Your body carries out your wishes.

These techniques work for some and fail miserably for others.
Patience?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1454707 - 06/11/10 03:09 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: TimR]
photowriters Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 180
Loc: Kansas City
Originally Posted By: TimR
Sorry, this is "one-size-fits-all" thinking.

Your body carries out your wishes.

These techniques work for some and fail miserably for others.

There are two cases where Inner Game will never help improve an individual's performance in sports or music.
  • Person is already performing at his/her maximum tension free level.
  • Person keeps telling him/herself that it will not work, i.e., a continuous stream of negative thoughts.
In every other case, there should be some improvement . . . slight in some cases and massive in others.
_________________________
Regards,

Bob

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#1454715 - 06/11/10 03:26 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: photowriters]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3238
Loc: Virginia, USA
So you don't buy the idea of matching the person's learning style at all?
_________________________
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#1454736 - 06/11/10 04:22 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: TimR]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Some people's learning style is really a teaching style. You can't teach yourself to ride a bicycle but you can learn to ride a bicycle.
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#1454738 - 06/11/10 04:30 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: TimR]
photowriters Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 180
Loc: Kansas City
Originally Posted By: TimR
So you don't buy the idea of matching the person's learning style at all?

Everyone learns a bit differently from the next guy. The Inner Game has nothing to do with learning how to play music, golf, tennis, or any other complex physical skill. Its focus is on improving execution by eliminating negative, self defeating talk and the tension that negativity produces. I hate to keep referring to golf on a piano forum, but it is the most concrete example that I can find from my personal experience.

As I said in an earlier post, like you I am much more of an analytical learner than I am a feel learner, but feel or kinesthetics is an important part of my learning process, especially if what I am learning involves movement of some part of the body. Perhaps a couple stories/examples will help illustrate both what I have been trying to illustrate and how I view the role of the Inner Game.

When I was much younger, I flew single seat jets on and off aircraft carriers, a demanding task which required precise hand-to-eye coordination, and I was damn good at it. That task required both extensive formal knowledge of one's aircraft, how the ship functioned, and the basic dynamics of flight, but the execution was almost an autonomic response to sensory clues. Secondarily, from the time I was introduced to ballroom dancing in grade school I have been an excellent dancer.

So what? To do well in each activity requires accurate and rhythmic movement controlled by both the large and small muscles of the body. Enter from stage left the challenging and frustrating game of golf.

Golf also requires precise rhythmic movement of the body to score well. For 15 years I tried to improve and gain some consistancy. I took many lessons, attended week long intensive golf schools, and spent hours and hours on the practice tee and practice green, all to no avail. I could not lower my handicap below 36 no matter what I tried.

I only kept playing the game because I enjoyed playing with my wife who was a better golfer than I was and because of the occasional miracle shot. Normally, I chunked, missed, duck hooked, and banana sliced golf balls all over the course and into every available hazard. I knew I had the intelligence, physical skills, and coordination to become a good golfer, but could not deliver. I had studied the game from an academic standpoint until I literally wore out some of the books I purchased. How was it that my dancing partners would compliment me on how good of a dancer I was, and my fellow aviators would commend me for my flying skills on and off the ship, but I could not hit a golf ball the same way twice in a row? Believe me, I was frustrated beyond words.

I had learned golf and learned it well, but I could not execute. Several years ago I determined that a much of the problem was tension, but I did not have any idea of how to eliminate it. Practice swings on the tee were fluid and rhythmic. All too often they were followed by a swing that propelled the ball 100 years into the dense woods on the left, the large lake on the right, or almost up to the ladies tee 20 yards ahead of me.

The Inner Game did nothing more than release me of the tension so that I could do what I already knew how to do. The Inner Game did not teach me anything about golf as such. It did allow my body to use all of the knowledge that my analytical learning machine had stored between my ears.

Does that make it any clearer what I am talking about and why I say that the Inner Game tension management skills should work for everyone?


Edited by photowriters (06/11/10 04:35 PM)
_________________________
Regards,

Bob

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#1454744 - 06/11/10 04:45 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: photowriters]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Wow, a fighter pilot? I'm impressed!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1454750 - 06/11/10 04:56 PM Re: Relax fingers during play... some advice? [Re: keyboardklutz]
photowriters Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/06/08
Posts: 180
Loc: Kansas City
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Wow, a fighter pilot? I'm impressed!

No I was not a fighter pilot. I was an attack pilot. I flew A-4 and A-7 aircraft. Our primary mission was to attack targets on the ground. The fighter jocks said I was a member of what they called the "Gravity Group."
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Bob

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