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#2219729 - 01/23/14 09:57 PM Technique for long fingers
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
I have a young student with particularly long fingers. They are also particularly weak.
Her default hand position when playing the pianos has her first knuckles lower than her second. If I get her to raise her first knuckles, the length of her fingers causes her to perch on the tip of her thumb. I thought about lowering her wrists, but, besides making her wrists incorrect, it would cause her fingers to reach into "the black zone" and her weak fingers bend the wrong way.
What would you suggest?
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Piano Teacher
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#2219737 - 01/23/14 10:08 PM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
hreichgott Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1562
Loc: western MA, USA
Assuming the thumb is also long, standard position should work fine
(thumb in line with arm, wrist at about the same height as top of keys, uphill curve from wrist to large knuckles, equal curve downhill from large knuckles through finger to keys.)
In this position there is no way for the thumb to perch on the tip - it's in line with the arm and at the same height as the keys.

The whole apparatus is just larger on someone with long fingers, and it takes longer for them to learn to control the ends of the fingers, because leverage.
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Working on:
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I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music

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#2220289 - 01/24/14 10:17 PM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
I was taught to have the wrists a little higher than that. Wrists in a straight line. (not rigidly so, but as a general starting position.) I find that gives me more power and control. If I attempt to lower my wrists to the level of the keys, even the bottom of my wrist, I feel awkward, week, slow and encumbered. Most students, however seem to think that wrists low is the only way to play and I find myself saying "wrists up" quite often.
Would a few others mind weighing in on this one for me? Which way is correct?
Thanks
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#2220640 - 01/25/14 03:32 PM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
phantomFive Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 2100
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Monaco
I was taught to have the wrists a little higher than that. Wrists in a straight line. (not rigidly so, but as a general starting position.) I find that gives me more power and control. If I attempt to lower my wrists to the level of the keys, even the bottom of my wrist, I feel awkward, week, slow and encumbered. Most students, however seem to think that wrists low is the only way to play and I find myself saying "wrists up" quite often.
Would a few others mind weighing in on this one for me? Which way is correct?
Thanks

Liszt would say that any way you can play it is correct. Glenn Gould shows a good example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yftk_cnbwKQ. Notice how the wrist position is flexible, and height is dictated by what the fingers need.

In a way, wrist position is kind of like back posture: if shoulders are held high and strong, your octaves will be slightly lighter and faster, but it is a matter of degrees. One tendency is, when you are trying to play quick notes with your fingers, to push the wrist down. I've seen even professional pianists do this, and they are very fast, but could be slightly faster if they held the wrists higher.

Incidentally, no one should use Glenn Gould as an example of good posture, but he's an interesting case because so often he demonstrates the absolute minimum necessary to play well.


Edited by phantomFive (01/25/14 03:33 PM)
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#2220783 - 01/25/14 09:43 PM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3338
Loc: Virginia, USA
Does she perchance practice on a digital?

Some models do not have a fallboard, and it is possible to play past the normal position; in fact it is quite comfortable to play a bit further into the keys;

I did have a bad moment once when i'd worked something out on a digital and played it in church on the grand, and smacked my fingers a bit painfully into the fallboard; but it was easy to adjust once I'd realized the problem

It might be worth having her practice on a digital until fingers strengthen a bit
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gotta go practice

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#2221317 - 01/27/14 08:30 AM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: TimR]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
No. She has a real nice Yamaha C-3 or C-5, I forget. I couldn't possibly tell her to not play it.
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Ben Ereddia
Piano Teacher
Beginning Tech

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#2221356 - 01/27/14 10:07 AM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3338
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Monaco
I have a young student with particularly long fingers. They are also particularly weak.
Her default hand position when playing the pianos has her first knuckles lower than her second. If I get her to raise her first knuckles, the length of her fingers causes her to perch on the tip of her thumb.


Trying to picture this; is she sitting too close?

Quote:
I thought about lowering her wrists, but, besides making her wrists incorrect, it would cause her fingers to reach into "the black zone" and her weak fingers bend the wrong way.
What would you suggest?


By reach into the black zone, do you mean you're trying to keep her fingers on the edge of the white keys?
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gotta go practice

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#2221407 - 01/27/14 11:53 AM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
Monaco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 387
Loc: GA
I don't believe she is sitting to close. i will check.
By "black zone" i mean she is forced to play in between the black keys.
_________________________
Ben Ereddia
Piano Teacher
Beginning Tech

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#2221432 - 01/27/14 12:23 PM Re: Technique for long fingers [Re: Monaco]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1127
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
My teacher would not let me play with low wrists. But is being on the thumb tip so bad? I would think she could still put the key down with rotational movement to the thumb. (Not a piano teacher myself.)
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Currently working on:
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Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2
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