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#2159754 - 09/29/13 05:09 PM I can't practice
Smiss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 13
Hello pianoworld!

Was a while again since I last posted and I haven't been playing much piano at all.

I got no teacher and I only played by myself using the alfreds beginner book 1 but noticed I quickly got bored of it and started practicing more advanced pieces I liked instead. I remember my fingers starting to hurt especially my pinkies but it usually dissapeared after a day or two.

Ive been trying to play some on and off for the last 6 months but every time I try I get pain in my pinkies and ring finger mostly. I understand that this is probably due to bad technique but it's almost like I can't even sit 5 minutes without them starting to hurt. I basically had like a 3 month break without even touching the piano and still as soon as I sit down and start to play my fingers hurt.

It's really discouraging and im afraid im hurting my hands even more by playing. I won't say that this is the reason I haven't played because ive just been lazy but it has always been in the back of my mind that my hands hurt making me not wanting to play.

I sit alot infront of the computer with half-bad hand positions and I have some tension but never pain. I don't really know what to do maybe I have carpal tunnel syndrome or something? because sometimes my hands are tingling and it's going up my arm aswell. I probably need a teacher anyway but this pain is almost instant when I start to play so I can't see how a teacher would help there.

Anyone have any experience with this or have any tips for me?

thanks for reading.

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#2159764 - 09/29/13 05:29 PM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
1. See a doctor. Start with an orthopedist who can evaluate the situation and may or may not refer you to a hand specialist. The pain you describe ISN'T NORMAL even for beginners trying pieces above their pay grade.

2. Work through the Alfed book even if you're bored stiff. It teaches you things sequentially and your hands should become used to the piano as you learn. Right now they're at the baby learning to crawl stage. Don't ask them do gymnastics.
Slow down and do it right.

#2159765 - 09/29/13 05:32 PM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1574
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
See a doctor.

Youtube channel | Box MP3 records

Self-taught since Dec2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

#2159814 - 09/29/13 08:13 PM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
KurtZ Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 1083
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
+2 on the doctor. Tingling/numbness is frequently trapped nerves. Get your "half-bad" position straightened out before you really regret it. Losing 1.5 years and having to go back to book 2a when you were almost done with 3b really sucks. I know because it happened to me.

One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a friend.


#2159829 - 09/29/13 08:56 PM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
Pianist4ever Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/13
Posts: 42
Wisdom says, "see a doctor" experience says the doctor may not have the answer, or not immediately. "Half bad" position could be your entire problem. I seriously recommend you get a teacher to help you with posture, hand, and wrist position. Check your bench height as well. Any of these can cause serious problems. The tension you experience during computer use could be carrying over.

Late high-school, I had significant tingling/numbness problems with my hands. Please keep in mind that I have always had a teacher, though of varying qualities. I'd wake up in the middle of the night unable to feel fingers or sometimes my hands. I'd gone from 2 hrs daily practice down to 45 minutes a week -- that was the point where it hurt too much to continue. Turns out it wasn't my piano technique at all, though of the three doctors, 2 blamed it on that. It was a combination of back problems and excess tension in neck and shoulder muscles that were restricting the radial nerve. Heat and ice, hydration, stretches, and watching my posture helped immensely. The doctors showed me that the site of the pain and numbness was not the source of the problem -- a vitally important detail. (The true cause of that excess tension is how I handle stress -- incorrectly! And no, they didn't help me with that.)

All that to say, find the source of your problem or it can ruin your ambitions and cause significant problems with normal life as well. Do not ignore it. A 3-month break is a long time so if that didn't eliminate the symptoms, you really need to find the true problem and a genuine solution.

#2159842 - 09/29/13 09:19 PM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12395
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with "see a doctor". I also agree with Pianist4ever about resolving the tension issues you are having with typing. Working with an physical therapist may be necessary to do this.
private piano/voice teacher FT
Petrof 9'2, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

#2159884 - 09/30/13 01:08 AM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014

Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 1086
Loc: Italy
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the entire hand EXCEPT the pinky, so this shouldn't be it (but there are plenty other nerve compression syndromes). I happened to have pinkies tingling/hurting quite often when I did a lot of basic sight-reading and exercises in five-finger position. It doesn't happen with "normal" pieces. On the contrary, my hands are usually pain-free and more flexible after practicing the piano. Typing and using the trackpad a lot is what makes everything worse for me. Check the angles of your arms, basically the correct position at the piano is also the correct position at the computer. Also, use dictation software if you can.

As for learning, you might not be self-disciplined enough to go teacher-less. If what you are learning is not motivating enough for you, there is no way you will stick to a good practice routine. A teacher may be able to suggest the best approach for you.
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

#2159914 - 09/30/13 03:43 AM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
Smiss Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/30/12
Posts: 13
Thanks alot everyone for your answers!

on pain: yes i'll probably have to go see a doctor. @pianist4ever I think you might be right that it's not about my hands but can be from tension in neck/shoulders etc. I've been tense in my neck/shoulders area long before I even started playing piano. Weird thing is I could play for hours without feeling anything in my hands even though I was tense in my shoulders. Now I can barely play at all.

on motivation: I don't think im able to learn myself even though I have been seriously motivated at times when I could play whatever I wanted. For example one of the pieces I wanted to learn was "river flows in you" by yiruma (yeah I know cliché) when I was a complete beginner. I didn't understand rhythm I couldn't for the life of me play with 2 hands. I didn't understand how a piece that seemed completely random in melody could have a rhythm. Now I understand that alot better and can tap out some rhythms. I couldn't play with two hands AT ALL and got really tense when trying to play with two hands at the same time I almost wanted to rip my hair out. Now I can "play" river flows in you with two hands most of the piece. When it finally clicked it was a really good feeling and I couldn't even sleep that night because I was really excited. That excitement wasen't long-lived though, because I realised sure I could play with two hands for abit but I had no dynamics, missed notes often, had trouble keeping the pace etc so it didn't sound good at all. And why would it? im a beginner who started by trying to play a piece that I was motivated to learn but was way above my skill level. That's why I need to start from the very basics and that's where I usually fail because It's not exciting enough. And on top of that im having this pain problem so the result is that I rather sit infront of the computer doing nothing than practice.

#2159936 - 09/30/13 04:53 AM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014

Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 1086
Loc: Italy
I hear you Smiss, I think your troubles are very common among self-taught players. I also lost my way a few times in the last year and a half. Now I think I'm on the right track, because I feel I've found my level: I study mainly grade 1-2 pieces, usually just 1 or 2 pages long, by Bach, Mozart, Czerny, etc. Some of them are challenging, some easier, but I can get through them in 2-4 weeks and don't get bored. These things are super useful to learn how to properly read a score, figure out a good fingering, practice efficiently, add expression, etc. Of course I must thank Alfred's 1 & 2 for the basics and theory that was in there. I think one of the most important things a teacher does is to select the right pieces for you; I feel I'm doing this quite well for myself right now. Now and then I pick up a beloved piece that's much too difficult for me, mostly just for fun, but I'm not seriously working on anything that's way above my level. I also stay away from simplified arrangements (except for the Joplin recital!), there is plenty of original music even for us beginners.
Diana & Wally - Yamaha W110BW
Martha Argerich... is an incarnation of the artistic metaphor of the "eternal feminine" that draws us upward. (Sergio Sablich)

#2160090 - 09/30/13 01:47 PM Re: I can't practice [Re: Smiss]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 945
Loc: Bulgaria
It's not normal at all. See a doctor and don't play until you can schedule at least 1 lesson with a good teacher.

Hand pain while playing piano is caused by many things and some of them are:

  • Trying to stretch your fingers more than usual, grasping for notes further away while accidentally holding a note down.
  • Sitting too high or too low on your chair. Your elbows need to be levelled with the top of the keys. There should be no break in the wrist (either too high or too low). Should be flat.
  • Trying to curl your finger too much to imitate what people always say about the fingers being curled as if you have a round object/ball below them. This is not as it sounds and the fingers should not be curled that much because they tense up and you get wrist pain and finger pain and it can extend to your shoulders and even your neck.
  • A ton of other things only a teacher will be able to tell you after they see how you play.
Music Pedagogy Student



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