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#2240474 - 03/03/14 12:24 AM Is hand position overrated?
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1478
Lately, I've been observing more and more amongst my students, myself, and pianists in general (professionals and non alike), that the classic, textbook example of the lauded "ideal" hand position (Curved fingers, like you are holding a bubble, etc.) is actually rarely kept and adhered to in playing - especially in longer pieces demanding different touches and wrist lifting, etc.

While there are obviously some things that need immediate fixing (popsicle-stick flat fingers and extreme collapsing of joints/knuckles that cause hands to collapse in some kids), I've come to believe that constant insisting on this basic shape of hand if everything else if okay is somewhat pointless.

I bring this up because I've had a few situations where (usually in young students, aged 4-6), they are doing great in lessons: maintaining a steady pulse, catching on to the patterns of note-reading, observing dynamics, enthusiastic about the music they are playing, etc...but may do so with slightly flat/straight fingers or a lowered hand. Some parents have called this into question, wondering why I'm not "focusing on technique."

My personal opinion is that as long as it's not a terrible deviation from a healthy "model" hand, and the technique is not hampering their ability to play correctly, then continually reminding them to "have a round hand", is too much of an additional burden for a young kid who is already trying to juggle note-reading, rhythm, and dynamics. It's not that I won't say anything, but it's not something I believe is worth beating to death if they're not doing. But I may be wrong.

Thoughts?

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#2240477 - 03/03/14 12:29 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
Some parents have called this into question, wondering why I'm not "focusing on technique."

Those parents have been brainwashed by myths and half-truths. In my experience, these parents never trust the teacher, and they always look for answers elsewhere, such as from other, equally-brainwashed parents who know NOTHING about music or how to play piano.

Just trust your instincts and keep on teaching the way you do.
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#2240493 - 03/03/14 01:23 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
Some parents have called this into question, wondering why I'm not "focusing on technique."

Those parents have been brainwashed by myths and half-truths. In my experience, these parents never trust the teacher, and they always look for answers elsewhere, such as from other, equally-brainwashed parents who know NOTHING about music or how to play piano.

Just trust your instincts and keep on teaching the way you do.

Exactly. When parents start that nonsense, I simply play myself, show how wrong their "knowledge" is. I show them various examples of where the hands are not in that "classic" position, then show them why it would be impossible. I takes me less than 5 minutes to put that to rest.
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#2240583 - 03/03/14 08:32 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3156
Loc: Virginia, USA
The bit about curved fingers has migrated to the brass world and is adhered to with religious fervor - I've been caught in a couple of flame wars.

Beginners tend to play valves more flat than curved, until painfully taught different. Pros play curved, until the technical demands get extreme, then you can see them flatten.

Nevertheless teachers mostly continue to claim there is no advantage to flat fingers and curved is correct. My impression is that flattening the fingers encourages some minor forearm rotation most people are not aware of.

My theory is that the brass world borrowed the curved idea straight from the piano world, and the piano world taught it because with small children the joints collapse if you don't. But that's just a guess.
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#2240611 - 03/03/14 09:28 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Not sure I entirely agree with the posts thus far.

When a student comes into the studio, take a look at their hands dangling at their sides. Are the fingers curved, straight, or somewhere in-between? This hand position is the totally relaxed hand position of the student, and should be their natural position at the keyboard. Why? Because all fingers have opposing muscles which contract or relax against each other to cause finger movement. When the fingers, and hand, is totally flat, there is tension in the back of the hand and in the finger muscles. This tension causes or can cause a degradation in the fine motor control of the fingers. Of course, the same can be said for over-curving of the fingers. Where this point of maximum muscle relaxation occurs is somewhat different for every student and pianist, which is probably what you see when watching artists perform.

A second issue concerns the transfer of weight to the finger tips. We've known since Roman times that the arch is the best physical method for accomplishing this. Helping the fingers form an arch will help the student obtain more dynamics from the piano. As I understand it, the finger muscles contract momentarily against each other, causing the bones to lock into place, forming the arch, which is formidable in the amount of energy which can be transferred from the body, through the arms to the finger tips.

For years as a teacher, I was overly concern with hand shape, wrist level with respect to the keyboard, etc. Now, as I am teaching students arpeggios and scales early on, which are impossible to accomplish well unless the hand and fingers are properly aligned, I don't concern myself with "hand shape and wrist position" but let the students find what works best for them naturally.
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#2240767 - 03/03/14 03:47 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
John, you say:
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Not sure I entirely agree with the posts thus far.

But then you say:
Quote:

For years as a teacher, I was overly concern with hand shape, wrist level with respect to the keyboard, etc. Now, as I am teaching students arpeggios and scales early on, which are impossible to accomplish well unless the hand and fingers are properly aligned, I don't concern myself with "hand shape and wrist position" but let the students find what works best for them naturally.

That is exactly what I am saying. Isn't that the crux of what we are all saying? smile
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#2240818 - 03/03/14 05:13 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
hippido Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 107
Loc: SoCal
My son played for years with flat fingers and high wrists. Although he won his fair share of competitions, we always felt that he was being limited. Being non musical parents, we never broached the subject with his former teachers. When he started working with his current teacher, she insisted that he spent ~6 months working on his forms (fingers, postures, etc). After the 6 months, we noticed that he played his pieces with relatively ease, he's more relaxed, and the error rates go way down. The music seems to flow from his fingers.

Just one data point, but for my son, hand position isn't overrated.

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#2240824 - 03/03/14 05:18 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: hippido]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: hippido
My son played for years with flat fingers and high wrists. Although he won his fair share of competitions, we always felt that he was being limited. Being non musical parents, we never broached the subject with his former teachers. When he started working with his current teacher, she insisted that he spent ~6 months working on his forms (fingers, postures, etc). After the 6 months, we noticed that he played his pieces with relatively ease, he's more relaxed, and the error rates go way down. The music seems to flow from his fingers.

Just one data point, but for my son, hand position isn't overrated.

The point is that WRONG hand positions are over-rated, which is really hopelessly wrong because they are DESTRUCTIVE. This topic should have a different subject line. wink
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#2240941 - 03/03/14 08:28 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
When parents start that nonsense, I simply play myself, show how wrong their "knowledge" is. I show them various examples of where the hands are not in that "classic" position, then show them why it would be impossible. I takes me less than 5 minutes to put that to rest.

I do demonstrate. I show these parents specific places in standard repertoire where it is IMPOSSIBLE to play with round fingers.

Thank heavens this doesn't happen often. Most of the parents I work with are either very supportive of my teaching or they are completely aloof.
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#2242795 - 03/07/14 06:07 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
While Horowitz plays with a very low arch and mostly on the pads of his fingers, Brendel carries his wrists quite high and has very rounded fingers. None-the-less, he can elicit beautiful tone. Schubert - Impromtu Op 142, n.1
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#2242801 - 03/07/14 06:14 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
When parents start that nonsense, I simply play myself, show how wrong their "knowledge" is. I show them various examples of where the hands are not in that "classic" position, then show them why it would be impossible. I takes me less than 5 minutes to put that to rest.

I do demonstrate. I show these parents specific places in standard repertoire where it is IMPOSSIBLE to play with round fingers.

Thank heavens this doesn't happen often. Most of the parents I work with are either very supportive of my teaching or they are completely aloof.

Usually "correcting" parents is something I only need to do once. Usually they are not arrogant, just misinformed. A worse problem is when there is an Uncle Jim or Aunt Sue who "plays very well". In that case I go into all out war mode. smile

Mostly if you demonstrate that you CAN play with round fingers, and show where it is appropriate, they leave you alone when you show a passage where "round" won't work. smile
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#2242818 - 03/07/14 06:34 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
While Horowitz plays with a very low arch and mostly on the pads of his fingers,

Are you SURE? smile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pEMqtcspz8

Watch closely, all the way through. Sometimes his fingers are VERY curved, which is typical for him. His hands continually change shape, and it is easy to "see" only what proves some very wrong conclusions.

This is a perfect opportunity to turn down the sound, just watch, and guess what it "should" sound like, based on preconceptions.
Quote:

Brendel carries his wrists quite high and has very rounded fingers. None-the-less, he can elicit beautiful tone. Schubert - Impromtu Op 142, n.1

Because "tone" is mostly an illusion. For the most part you push down a key, a hammer is thrown, and all the rest plays a far smaller part in the "tone" than most people think.

This makes the piano very different from most other instruments.

Voice teachers spend years trying to get their students to make one beautiful sound. Brass teachers? Same thing. You work and work and WORK on getting an open, rich sound. It takes years.

It takes years on piano too, but it is done more with smoke and mirrors.
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#2242823 - 03/07/14 06:44 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2413
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
*sigh*

I need more smoke and mirrors.
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#2242827 - 03/07/14 06:50 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
While Horowitz plays with a very low arch and mostly on the pads of his fingers,

Are you SURE? smile

Yes, quite. Of course, Gary, your example, he's playing music which calls for a very rapid, high fingered approach, typical of Baroque and Classical periods, but even so, he's on the pads frequently. Notice here, in this Romantic era piece, just how low his wrists are in comparison to Brendel's in this particular example.

I don't know nor understand the physics of it (and I suspect most so-called experts haven't a clue, either) but in sports, coaches are always talking about the importance of follow through. In baseball, for example, the ball has already left the bat, so what possible difference could follow through make? We don't understand the whys, but we know it's important, for those with a poor follow through never achieve much. I have often suspected that it's a mental thing, and what you are anticipating for follow through actually affects the pre-stroke, and the same is probably true in piano. Or not. But it's the best explanation I can come up with for my students.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2242893 - 03/07/14 09:29 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
hreichgott Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 880
Loc: western MA, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
what possible difference could follow through make? We don't understand the whys

I'm no athlete, but this much seems clear, that if there is no follow through then we must have been putting on the brakes at the moment of hitting the ball or whatever. A more free movement would mean not tensing up/braking/stopping at the moment of contact, and that would mean the movement would have to continue afterward (follow through). Lots of similarities with piano there eh?
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Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
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#2242898 - 03/07/14 09:38 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: hreichgott]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Most likely, the key word is "tensing" and as a teacher, players with tense hands are manifestly obvious.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2242948 - 03/07/14 11:19 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
keystring Online   content
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I'm thinking the same thing as Hreichgott. If you don't follow through, then you are slamming on the brakes. To stop a motion you actually have to almost reverse it, which loses the point of the motion. I think it is more than a matter of tensing, but you would also lose the relaxation phase between notes which is in fact tense. Maybe the operative word is movement. Movement does not stop suddenly. It comes to rest or it changes its path and slows naturally.

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#2242951 - 03/07/14 11:21 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Polyphonist Offline
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Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7508
Loc: New York City
Newton's Laws of Motion, anyone? laugh
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#2242960 - 03/07/14 11:50 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Polyphonist]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7302
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Newton's Laws of Motion, anyone? laugh
I fairly sure no one is proposing a suspension of the laws of physics. Rather, an admission that we don't know what all is happening. Most naysayers were stunned when Baldwin began high speed photography of the hammers and discovered that there is, gasp, real whipping action occurring. Is it possible or conceivable that the hammers could reach the same terminal velocity, but with differing degrees of acceleration during the keystroke? If so, would this affect the sound? Is the piano action that sophisticated? If you believe not, how do you account for the different sound of different pianists, equally technically gifted, on the same instrument? Some are simply more percussive sounding than others. Why? What role does hand positioning, finger positioning, hand, wrist, arm and body motion play in all of this? My experience is that it does, but I can only speculate at the reasons why.
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2243340 - 03/08/14 08:33 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
If so, would this affect the sound? Is the piano action that sophisticated? If you believe not, how do you account for the different sound of different pianists, equally technically gifted, on the same instrument? Some are simply more percussive sounding than others. Why? What role does hand positioning, finger positioning, hand, wrist, arm and body motion play in all of this? My experience is that it does, but I can only speculate at the reasons why.

I have a different idea. In the end we may both be right. But my perspective:

I have one of those old "piano roll" recordings of Rachmaninov playing his own music. For very obvious reasons this is just a matter of the right hammer hitting strings at the right velocity, something telling the pedal go go down at point X and come back up at point Y.

Obviously we don't here Rachmaninov's total sound, but I find some of the tracks stunning. There is still something unique, and I just like the playing better than that of anyone else's, for those tracks.

I don't know how they calibrated the piano that the roll was re-played on. Someone just must have done a fantastic job.

But if you think of playing a solid C major chord, complete with the octave (C E G C), attempting to play it loud but not in an ugly way, you can see how impossible it is to predict the exact velocity by doing it on a really good keyboards, recording it over and over and then "reading" out the velocities in a program.

If you do it 100 time the read-out will never be exactly the same, but you will see a tendency, and the result might surprise you. It certainly surprised me.

The same thing happens if you play a rapid scale or passage, there is way more variation in the results for each key pressed than you might thing, and if you level this all off (using some kind of "correction", the result will be so machine-link and so colorless that all humanity disappears.

You can hear the same kind of weirdness happen with acoustic recordings by taking something that sounds absolutely amazing at full speed, then cutting the speed in half. I started doing that years ago with an open reel tape recorder, and strangely I did it with Horowitz. His playing was so far from even it was astounding, but it didn't SOUND that way at full speed.

So there are all these micro-differences between players, and they add up.

Using Horowitz again, it is pretty much common knowledge that his pianos were "juiced", very edgy, very loud, and that's why some people always hated his sound. But I also know from hearing him loud that he played amazingly quietly (that was a HUGE surprise).

So for him it is kind of like a great tennis player using a very live racket that gives more power, but no one can control.

That's what Jimmy Conners did years ago, when he was the only one who could control the Wilson T2000 steel racket. I tried one and couldn't keep the ball in the court. That's pretty much what other pros said, which is why they didn't use it.

But Connors won for years with that racket.

That's my theory. Same equipment (pianos), but different people can simply do different things with them, and that's enough to explain the difference, even the harshness and the opposite.
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#2243414 - 03/09/14 01:44 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11560
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Newton's Laws of Motion, anyone? laugh
I fairly sure no one is proposing a suspension of the laws of physics. ...

This was about follow-through in playing, and so about the physical side of playing. I think it confirms the law of physics. "Things that are in motion, continue with that motion. To stop a motion you need the contrary." (my wording - inexact - I'm not a scientist). So if your hand, arm, finger - are descending toward the key, there is motion. If you suddenly stop that motion the minute you reach the right spot on the key, you need to use counterforce, and that creates tension. Otoh if your hand is falling more loosely and then follows through in some direction, the motion is simply redirected, and it can relax.

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#2243443 - 03/09/14 03:33 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
briansaddleback Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 196
Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
Lately, I've been observing more and more amongst my students, myself, and pianists in general (professionals and non alike), that the classic, textbook example of the lauded "ideal" hand position (Curved fingers, like you are holding a bubble, etc.) is actually rarely kept and adhered to in playing - especially in longer pieces demanding different touches and wrist lifting, etc.

While there are obviously some things that need immediate fixing (popsicle-stick flat fingers and extreme collapsing of joints/knuckles that cause hands to collapse in some kids), I've come to believe that constant insisting on this basic shape of hand if everything else if okay is somewhat pointless.

I bring this up because I've had a few situations where (usually in young students, aged 4-6), they are doing great in lessons: maintaining a steady pulse, catching on to the patterns of note-reading, observing dynamics, enthusiastic about the music they are playing, etc...but may do so with slightly flat/straight fingers or a lowered hand. Some parents have called this into question, wondering why I'm not "focusing on technique."

My personal opinion is that as long as it's not a terrible deviation from a healthy "model" hand, and the technique is not hampering their ability to play correctly, then continually reminding them to "have a round hand", is too much of an additional burden for a young kid who is already trying to juggle note-reading, rhythm, and dynamics. It's not that I won't say anything, but it's not something I believe is worth beating to death if they're not doing. But I may be wrong.

Thoughts?


You're fine.
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#2243804 - 03/09/14 06:41 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3156
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

I don't know nor understand the physics of it (and I suspect most so-called experts haven't a clue, either) but in sports, coaches are always talking about the importance of follow through. In baseball, for example, the ball has already left the bat, so what possible difference could follow through make?


I don't know about follow through on piano, but I may be able to shed some light on follow through in sports such as baseball, tennis, or golf, where the follow through is easily observed visually.

Follow through is widely misunderstood, and the attempt to follow through deliberately is usually counterproductive.

Follow through is the RESULT of a biomechanically correct action. If you transfer weight properly, if your kinetic chain functions with correct timing from proximal to distal segments, follow through is inevitable.

Follow through then is a method of verifying that the action is correct.

And of course, for some the mental image of following through helps coordinate a complicated motion, and for others it hinders.
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#2243820 - 03/09/14 07:24 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: TimR]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: TimR


I don't know about follow through on piano, but I may be able to shed some light on follow through in sports such as baseball, tennis, or golf, where the follow through is easily observed visually.

Follow through is widely misunderstood, and the attempt to follow through deliberately is usually counterproductive.

I agree, because you may be making something happen that doesn't need to happen. An artificial follow-through can mean using additional, unnecessary muscles, thus tension.

I really like this:
Quote:

Follow through then is a method of verifying that the action is correct.

I never thought to put in those words. There is a kind of looseness that tells us that what we are watching is efficient. There is unnecessary tension, and you can see that even when you can't fine the words to describe it. At the other end you have something that looks extremely loos, but it is sloppy and it is not in control. It doesn't work.

What we are looking for is somewhere in the middle. For athletes this means easy power AND control. It's rather easy to see the result because the ones that have this win, and they win a lot, and they win for a longer period of time than other athletes.

I would say that piano is the same (the hands), but what we use to measure success is a good bit harder to pin down.
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#2243987 - 03/10/14 01:08 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5219
Loc: Europe
Well,

With young students I insist on the right hand posture. It makes sense, especially with children with small hands. The more they grow and the minute I introduce the "black keys" (which may well be in the actual third lesson!) I tell them that they will need to move their hand up and down on the keys in order to make it and not destroy their hands completely. After all with small hands, you can't be playing the middle C on the edge of the key and also want to play Eb and F# at the same time!

If the fundamentals are placed correctly, they are free to alter the hand position. Many times I have to correct them, because obviously what they're trying to do won't work, but other than that it's ok by me!

Parents never interfere with my lessons! wink I'm blessed at that!
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#2244019 - 03/10/14 02:28 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Nikolas]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4741
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Well,

With young students I insist on the right hand posture. It makes sense, especially with children with small hands.

But what is "the right position"?
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#2244139 - 03/10/14 09:16 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Well,

With young students I insist on the right hand posture. It makes sense, especially with children with small hands.

But what is "the right position"?

Three definitions:

1) The right hand position allows for the most efficient transfer of (arm, hand, and/or finger) weight into the keys.

2) The right hand position produces the best possible tone and sound quality.

3) The right hand position prevents unnecessary movement and excessive tension.

There will be variations among students. What feels natural to one student will be unnatural to another.

I have a few students who are so severely double-jointed, their hands are incapable of forming a round posture when playing piano! It is natural for their knuckles to buckle inwardly with even the slightest of pressure. Forcing them to develop a round hand shape is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
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#2244144 - 03/10/14 09:28 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11560
Loc: Canada
Planted as possible food for thought / expansion: Is there a problem in the word "position" or "shape" itself, given that playing involves constant movement? I'm thinking that the hand is constantly changing its shape, and concentrating on a shape might hamper some of that freedom.

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#2244164 - 03/10/14 10:03 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: AZNpiano]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3156
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I have a few students who are so severely double-jointed, their hands are incapable of forming a round posture when playing piano! It is natural for their knuckles to buckle inwardly with even the slightest of pressure. Forcing them to develop a round hand shape is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.


That suggests one of my theories is wrong.

To be sure I understand, by double jointed you mean that a joint can bend farther than straight? It can flex to a curled position, or it can extend to a straight line, or it can even go a bit farther?

I would have guessed that a little arch in the finger would be one way to prevent that. Apparently not.
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#2244169 - 03/10/14 10:11 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: TimR]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I have a few students who are so severely double-jointed, their hands are incapable of forming a round posture when playing piano! It is natural for their knuckles to buckle inwardly with even the slightest of pressure. Forcing them to develop a round hand shape is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.


That suggests one of my theories is wrong.

To be sure I understand, by double jointed you mean that a joint can bend farther than straight? It can flex to a curled position, or it can extend to a straight line, or it can even go a bit farther?

I would have guessed that a little arch in the finger would be one way to prevent that. Apparently not.

Your description is correct.

You have to remember that these are young children, so their hands are still wiggly and not firm. I would hope that they will grow out of their flabby hands one day. But I'm not going to worry about their weak knuckles. I pick my battles.
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