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#1562112 - 11/22/10 01:31 AM Son's fingers getting deformed!
Mercedes Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Houston
Hi all,

My ten year old son has been playing some pretty advanced pieces for his age. I've noticed of late that his fingers are curving inwards. Although they don't hurt, I am wondering if:
a) there are pieces he should not be attempting at this age
and if so, how to decide which ones to avoid (I can read
music and am a beginner)
b) there is any particular technique out of the several out
there - Alexander,Taubmann, Mary Lister-Sink etc, that
would address this problem and others of a young gifted
pianist
c) there is any name to this problem that I could research upon
I would appreciate any input from anyone suffering from this problem and what kind of treatment/corrective measures he/she undertook.

Thanks, Mercedes
_________________________
Mercedes

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#1562113 - 11/22/10 01:36 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
What exactly do you mean by "curving inward"?
I'm even a medical person and I don't know for sure what you mean smile ....and I'm not sure that my best guess is close.

It sounds like it's abnormal, but I can imagine some possibilities of what you might mean that aren't.

I imagine that a couple of our main answers will be:

-- Does he have a teacher?
If so, the teacher would be the best person to start asking about this.
If not.....well, it sounds like he might be doing some weird things to his hands and maybe you should make sure he has a teacher before he plays too much more.

-- It might not be a bad idea to see an orthopedic doctor to make sure about it. It could even be something totally unrelated to piano playing.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1562118 - 11/22/10 01:55 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Get off the internet, and go to your son's piano teacher and/or an orthopedic doctor as Mark C advises. There is nothing and nobody for you on the internet because the internet cannot see your son's hand.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1562123 - 11/22/10 02:04 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2621
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
As others have said, see a doctor! Meanwhile research "focal dystonia" if son's fingers are curling inward uncontrollably.
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1562126 - 11/22/10 02:08 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mark_C]
Mercedes Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Houston
By 'curving inward' I mean the little and ring fingers are arching towards the middle finger. I thought I would inform myself about the particular problems of piano playing before I visit an orthopedic doctor. Where we live at the moment, we do not have access to a specialist dealing with injuries related to piano playing. I noticed another much older student having the same problem - he said its getting progressively worse since he began playing five years ago. I am willing to bet it is related to piano playing.
_________________________
Mercedes

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#1562127 - 11/22/10 02:15 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
OK -- that clarifies what you mean. It definitely sounds abnormal, and it could well be related to the piano playing, but it's not clearly so.

Forget about getting much guidance from "informing yourself" further. First of all, it seems that this particular thing is extremely unusual (as described), even though you say you noticed someone else with the same thing (are you sure??), and so I don't think you would find much about this exact thing. And secondly, you won't be able to be sure enough about it anyway.

You still didn't say if he has a teacher....
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1562129 - 11/22/10 02:18 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
It's a shame there is so little support for growing performing artists' health. These people are quite big in the US - http://www.artsmed.org/ maybe they can put you on to someone in your area.

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#1562132 - 11/22/10 02:27 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mark_C]
Mercedes Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Houston
Yes he does have a teacher - I don't think she knows what's causing it, or what to do about it. I did gather from a couple of masterclasses that he had with visiting pianists that he should not be playing certain pieces since he is still young and this could lead to injury.

This curving of the fingers is increasing as he practices more. Either its faulty technique, playing difficult pieces that his hands are not ready for, or both. In any case, he has to stop doing whatever it is (if I could be sure what and how) and get a doctor to look at it.
_________________________
Mercedes

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#1562133 - 11/22/10 02:29 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
OK......it sounds like maybe you haven't fully explored it with the teacher, because you're not sure what the teacher thinks.

By the way: The doctor wouldn't need to be someone who specializes in problems of piano playing. That could be important for who treats the problem, but it's not at all necessary for getting it evaluated, in terms of finding out whether it's abnormal and exactly what it is. And while you may well be right about the cause, don't assume it too strongly.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1562136 - 11/22/10 02:47 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: chopin_r_us]
Mercedes Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Houston
Thanks chopin_r_us. That's a great starting point for me.
_________________________
Mercedes

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#1562183 - 11/22/10 06:29 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5275
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Either its faulty technique, playing difficult pieces that his hands are not ready for, or both. In any case, he has to stop doing whatever it is (if I could be sure what and how) and get a doctor to look at it.

You should explore this further with a doctor or your son's teacher.

Two quick, easy and painless checks you can do -

Does your son have any pain, tension, tightness in his top forearm muscles?

If you were to, without your son knowing, flip his wrist up and away from the keyboard while he is playing, would his arm\hand stay locked to the keyboard or simply fly away?

Having had bad teachers even at a university level, I speak from personal experience on what to look for and what shouldn't be there.
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#1562209 - 11/22/10 08:35 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Do you have a photo? My 5ths curve inwards and it's never troubled me. it may not necessarily be a concern at all, but the question is to what extent this is happening. Most 5th fingers tend to curve reasonably notably, I believe. The fourth sounds more unusual though. Also, does his hand tend to droop so the knuckles are notably lower on the side of the 5th? If so, this could be related. A balanced hand shouldn't have notable forces acting sideways on the finger. However, if you collapse weaker fingers onto their side, it would make sense that there would be forces pushing the end of the finger inwards, relative to the rest. He may need to align better for the natural path of those fingers.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1562304 - 11/22/10 11:58 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Mercedes Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Houston
The curvature is not that bad but it is getting slightly more with time. I was told that keeping the fingers curved should prevent that (he does tend to flatten his palms a bit) but when his 10 year old hands try to play octaves it tends to stretch his 5ths). Is it possible that there are pieces that he should not attempt at this age?
_________________________
Mercedes

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#1562309 - 11/22/10 12:03 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5275
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Mercedes
The curvature is not that bad but it is getting slightly more with time. I was told that keeping the fingers curved should prevent that (he does tend to flatten his palms a bit) but when his 10 year old hands try to play octaves it tends to stretch his 5ths). Is it possible that there are pieces that he should not attempt at this age?


Don't you think you should be asking someone with a more personal and musical affiliation?

I would ask a concert pianist (someone who performs for a living) and who is on staff as a teacher as a music university.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1562310 - 11/22/10 12:06 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Personally, I'd doubt that it's anything to worry about. I have one student who has an extremely big curve on his 5th finger. He didn't start playing until a couple of years ago- at about 16. Some hands just grow that way. I'd just look out for whether the fifth finger knuckle is notably lower than the 2nd finger. The knuckles should be roughly parallel to the keys. If the finger leans, obviously the force that the keys push back is going to be in the direction of that curve. This doesn't necessarily mean there's an association, but a correlation between the two could make sense. I don't personally see any obvious reason why a more curved finger would stop any sideways push on the end of the finger, to be honest. What would seem to matter is whether the fingers natural motion from the knuckle runs down the line of key, or leans to the side. What pieces should be attempted is primarily down to ability level, not age. Unless we're talking about attempting Rachmaninoff Concertos, the age itself is very unlikely to be any issue. Whether the specifics of technique are working properly most certainly is, however.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1562312 - 11/22/10 12:10 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2621
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Originally Posted By: Mercedes
Is it possible that there are pieces that he should not attempt at this age?

The Hammerklavier?
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1562318 - 11/22/10 12:19 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Dave Horne]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

Don't you think you should be asking someone with a more personal and musical affiliation?

I would ask a concert pianist (someone who performs for a living) and who is on staff as a teacher as a music university.



I am a professional teacher of students up to diploma level. To be perfectly honest, I doubt whether many teachers would have anything specific to say about such a question. However, from a common sense point of view, changes in growth are likely to be based on the direction of forces. When a brace exerts a force on a tooth, it moves in the direction of that force, very slowly. If piano playing is indeed a factor (very much 'if'), it's likely that there's a similar principle here, where the finger is being pushed in that inward direction by a regular force. If piano playing is the issue, I cannot see any other immediate logical reason why it would cause it. If there were, it would have little do with knowledge of piano playing so I doubt whether many teachers would have anything remotely concrete to say about it. If they did, it would almost certainly be, "it's nothing to worry about" or "speak to someone with medical training".

Although, it's always a good idea to ensure that you have a decent teacher for technical issues in general, of course.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1562339 - 11/22/10 01:08 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Dave Horne]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
Pardon my saying so smile but it seems she has her own very strong idea of what this is and how to pursue it, and isn't that open to good suggestions of other sorts.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1562359 - 11/22/10 01:32 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: david_a]
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3914
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Get off the internet, and go to your son's piano teacher and/or an orthopedic doctor as Mark C advises. There is nothing and nobody for you on the internet because the internet cannot see your son's hand.


אָמֵן (Amen)
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#1562416 - 11/22/10 03:24 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
cast12 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 219
I don't think you should assume that playing the piano is causing his fingers to become deformed -- after all, millions of people practice the piano from a young age and do not experience any issues. Your son may simply have a genetic condition called Clinodactyly.

I have a similar problem: my middle fingers curve toward my ring fingers. At first I wondered what event caused my fingers to be shaped this way, but when I noticed that siblings have similar fingers, I realized that I am simply predisposed to have curved fingers.

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#1562421 - 11/22/10 03:35 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Mercedes
The curvature is not that bad but it is getting slightly more with time. I was told that keeping the fingers curved should prevent that (he does tend to flatten his palms a bit) but when his 10 year old hands try to play octaves it tends to stretch his 5ths). Is it possible that there are pieces that he should not attempt at this age?
Get off the internet and go to your son's piano teacher (NOT some other teacher) or a doctor. There is no help available on the internet for this kind of thing. You are completely on the wrong track. Stop. Think, for just a moment.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1562523 - 11/22/10 06:31 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Mercedes

This curving of the fingers is increasing as he practices more. Either its faulty technique, playing difficult pieces that his hands are not ready for, or both. In any case, he has to stop doing whatever it is (if I could be sure what and how) and get a doctor to look at it.


I'm not sure what the question is, since it would seem that you've determined the problem and you're aware that medical attention is needed. MY question is...why the hell are you asking US and not your doctor? Get off the damned computer and get the kid an appointment.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1562629 - 11/22/10 10:23 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Mercedes Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/08
Posts: 19
Loc: Houston
Just had the doctor look at it - he says to wait and watch for a couple of months and the X-rays will help to compare. Thanks everyone.
_________________________
Mercedes

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#1562639 - 11/22/10 10:40 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
beet31425 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3707
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mercedes
Just had the doctor look at it - he says to wait and watch for a couple of months and the X-rays will help to compare. Thanks everyone.

Keep us posted. We can't really help very much, but now a bunch of us are interested and concerned. Hope everything's fine.

-Jason

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#1562640 - 11/22/10 10:43 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
Yes -- and good step getting to the doctor.
But I'm still wondering what the piano teacher thinks. It doesn't seem like mom has found out much about that....
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1562641 - 11/22/10 10:49 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Mercedes
Just had the doctor look at it - he says to wait and watch for a couple of months and the X-rays will help to compare.....

Sounds like that implies he doesn't think it's anything terrible or imminently urgent. Good sign, of course!
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1562646 - 11/22/10 11:10 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7060
Loc: So. California
In Orthopedics, angulation of the distal joint outwards is either called a "varus" or "valgus" deformity depending on direction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valgus_deformity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varus_deformity

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-varus-deformity.htm

Hopefully this information will show that an Orthopedist may need to be consulted.
_________________________
Hamburg Steinway O, Nord Electro 4 HP
My Blog

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#1562666 - 11/23/10 12:26 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2621
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1562876 - 11/23/10 11:07 AM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: Mercedes]
scotpgot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 128
This is going to be the end of his hand-modeling career. frown

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#1563086 - 11/23/10 06:49 PM Re: Son's fingers getting deformed! [Re: scotpgot]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: scotpgot
This is going to be the end of his hand-modeling career. frown


Is his name George? laugh
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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