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#2158291 - 09/26/13 10:02 PM Pinky finger tension
Serendipity7 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/14/13
Posts: 16
Hello all!

I'm working on the first few Hanon exercises, and I'm having an issue. My left hand pinky finger gets very tense during the exercises, sticking straight out unless I'm actually pressing down on a key. It's like I'm imitating a dainty person drinking tea, and happens even at a slow tempo. Has anyone else ever had this problem? Will it go away as I practice them more?

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#2158303 - 09/26/13 10:30 PM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3690
It is caused by tension.

It will go away if you practice correctly, which in this case is to go very very slowly, completely relaxing the hand between notes.

This is "slow" as in perhaps 5 seconds between notes. Go as slow as necessary so that your fingertips remain quietly resting upon the keys, both between notes played, and while playing.

If you go slow enough, you can relax and re-relax your hand as you play. If your finger(s) fly about, you are going much too fast.

It takes a lot of discipline.

PS...this is not caused by Hanon, it is caused by tension. This problem will occur by playing just about anything.
_________________________
Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

A Blues tune with my trio: https://www.box.com/s/43da5e4ca6432d021eb8

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#2158306 - 09/26/13 10:37 PM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5446
Loc: Philadelphia
In addition to rocket's advice, you may notice the issue more during an exercise like Hanon specifically because it is a repetition-based exercise. Meaning you're doing the same thing over and over. This leads to muscle fatigue more quickly.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2158323 - 09/26/13 11:19 PM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Derulux]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3690
Originally Posted By: Derulux
In addition to rocket's advice, you may notice the issue more during an exercise like Hanon specifically because it is a repetition-based exercise. Meaning you're doing the same thing over and over. This leads to muscle fatigue more quickly.


Yes.

Hanon in this example is a double-edged sword.

Its repetition exposes the weakness.

Yet if done correctly and slowly, and in small bites, it can quickly improve the situation.

"Small bites" is a measure or two, or a few more, only until the tension appears. Stop when you feel the tension approaching on the horizon, not when it is full-blown.

Do that for a few days/weeks/months until you can play the thing easily without experiencing "flying fingers" (Piano Teachers' jargon for this situation).

However, without seeing this person play, I think the problem is the same old thang: going way too fast.
_________________________
Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

A Blues tune with my trio: https://www.box.com/s/43da5e4ca6432d021eb8

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#2158325 - 09/26/13 11:23 PM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
Serendipity7 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/14/13
Posts: 16
Thanks so much for the advice! I will slow it way down. It's so weird that it's just one finger on one hand, it's like I'm carrying around my own personal tension lightning rod. A lightning rod that also drinks fancy tea while playing Hanon.

smile

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#2158327 - 09/26/13 11:26 PM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3690
You are very welcome. Good luck. Go slow...its a journey, not a destination!
_________________________
Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.

A Blues tune with my trio: https://www.box.com/s/43da5e4ca6432d021eb8

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#2158371 - 09/27/13 02:07 AM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
Brian Lucas Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 1139
Loc: Nashville, TN
Originally Posted By: Serendipity7
Thanks so much for the advice! I will slow it way down. It's so weird that it's just one finger on one hand, it's like I'm carrying around my own personal tension lightning rod. A lightning rod that also drinks fancy tea while playing Hanon.
Instinct and experience tells me that it's probably more than just one finger, maybe less noticeable in your other fingers. Pay attention to your other fingers too, go slow, and notice any twitching or a finger suddenly jumping off the key. Also signs of tension. I always say that tension is a 0-10 scale, not an on/off switch.
_________________________
-Brian
BM in Performance, Berklee College of Music, 23+ year teacher and touring musician
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#2158372 - 09/27/13 02:08 AM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2199
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: Serendipity7
Thanks so much for the advice! I will slow it way down. It's so weird that it's just one finger on one hand, it's like I'm carrying around my own personal tension lightning rod. A lightning rod that also drinks fancy tea while playing Hanon.

smile


Yes, I agree on tension. Not disagreeing here. Just trying to add some understanding.
Your lack of sophistication of your muscles/nervous system is partly this.
Grab your left forearm with your right hand. Now move your fingers individually. You can feel the muscles moving for each finger. You need to develop that individuality/sophistication of the muscles.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2158374 - 09/27/13 02:12 AM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5446
Loc: Philadelphia
I didn't want to get into specifics without more information, but since you mentioned it -- usually pinky tension is not a result of motions of the pinky, but of other fingers and/or the hand/arm in general. Asynchronous motions create the necessity for counter-balance in the pinky, which cause you to hold it tense.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2158378 - 09/27/13 02:22 AM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Derulux]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2199
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I didn't want to get into specifics without more information, but since you mentioned it -- usually pinky tension is not a result of motions of the pinky, but of other fingers and/or the hand/arm in general. Asynchronous motions create the necessity for counter-balance in the pinky, which cause you to hold it tense.


Gee...we were both thinking along the same lines at the same time. smile
One other way to see this. I do mobility drills. On the fingers. Try moving each one of them without moving any other fingers. smile
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2158547 - 09/27/13 11:22 AM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: rnaple]
Serendipity7 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/14/13
Posts: 16
Originally Posted By: rnaple
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I didn't want to get into specifics without more information, but since you mentioned it -- usually pinky tension is not a result of motions of the pinky, but of other fingers and/or the hand/arm in general. Asynchronous motions create the necessity for counter-balance in the pinky, which cause you to hold it tense.


Gee...we were both thinking along the same lines at the same time. smile
One other way to see this. I do mobility drills. On the fingers. Try moving each one of them without moving any other fingers. smile


This is really interesting! I tried to move each finger on my left hand individually. Thumb and forefinger, no problem. My middle finger was the absolute worst - it took my ring finger down with it and sent the pinky finger straight up into the air. Ring finger was a little better, if I really focused on trying to move it without moving any others, but it was really difficult. Pinky finger itself was actually not too bad. Very enlightening!

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#2158576 - 09/27/13 12:29 PM Re: Pinky finger tension [Re: Serendipity7]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5446
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Serendipity7
Originally Posted By: rnaple
Originally Posted By: Derulux
I didn't want to get into specifics without more information, but since you mentioned it -- usually pinky tension is not a result of motions of the pinky, but of other fingers and/or the hand/arm in general. Asynchronous motions create the necessity for counter-balance in the pinky, which cause you to hold it tense.


Gee...we were both thinking along the same lines at the same time. smile
One other way to see this. I do mobility drills. On the fingers. Try moving each one of them without moving any other fingers. smile


This is really interesting! I tried to move each finger on my left hand individually. Thumb and forefinger, no problem. My middle finger was the absolute worst - it took my ring finger down with it and sent the pinky finger straight up into the air. Ring finger was a little better, if I really focused on trying to move it without moving any others, but it was really difficult. Pinky finger itself was actually not too bad. Very enlightening!

I really don't like getting into specifics of technique because the chance for misinterpretation is greater than if we sat down in person. But I also don't want you to do something that causes tension and/or could lead to injury if exacerbated.

When you play a finger, lift it slightly before pressing down. (This could be the issue with the 3rd and 4th fingers, and is one part of a very common reason the pinky flares out.) When you lift the finger, allow the other fingers, hand, and arm to move slightly with the finger. In other words, don't artificially hold your hand, arm, or fingers in a specific position during the movement. That "holding" will cause additional tension.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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