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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: 1479
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: 5422
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: 4750
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: 3161
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: 7311
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: 4750
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: 4750
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: 5422
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: 7311
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: 4750
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: 4750
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: 2424
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: 7311
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: 893
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: 7311
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: 7513
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: 7311
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: 4750
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: 11574
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 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 203
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: 3161
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: 4750
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: 5221
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
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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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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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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
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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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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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#2244230 - 03/10/14 12:00 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Gary, I was sitting at the grand moments ago, when it occurred to me to look at the hammers and see how much control the key actually has over the hammer. It looks like there's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 inches of total hammer travel, and the key is controlling all but the last 1/4 inch of that travel. It would be like bowling where the bowler runs down the alley except for the final foot, where the ball is released. In other words, it would appear that there is tremendous control over the hammer by the direct motion of the key.

Thoughts?
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#2244261 - 03/10/14 01:13 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
TimR Online   content
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When the hammer shank leaves the jack knuckly it is a projectile.

Whatever velocity it has at that point is what determines how hard it hits the string.

I guess you're suggesting that there might be a difference in how you transmitted force in the half inch or so your finger pressed the key down. Maybe you used a steady pressure to get to the letoff point, or maybe you pressed very lightly and slowly until near the end then put a sudden force on it, or maybe you pressed hard at first and then coasted?

Trouble is there are quite a few studies that say if you're only playing one note, loudness is tone, and velocity is velocity. And when you're playing more than one note, there are all the other factors of overlap, articulation, voicing, damping, etc.
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#2244276 - 03/10/14 01:37 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: TimR]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: TimR
Trouble is there are quite a few studies that say if you're only playing one note, loudness is tone, and velocity is velocity. And when you're playing more than one note, there are all the other factors of overlap, articulation, voicing, damping, etc.

How were those studies conducted? With a steady-state mechanical device which varied velocity only? Or did they vary key depression depth as well as velocity? Did it vary where in the key stroke acceleration occurred? Was the velocity achieved smoothly over the full key stroke? Or suddenly just near the beginning or end of the key stroke? Does the whiplash of the hammer, when too rapid acceleration occurs, affect the sound? Are there other components to the total sound, such as the key hitting the keybed(not a silent process as I suspect many here might suppose - try it on an unstrung piano)? I raise these questions because I've never seen them discussed in piano journals and am not personally familiar with them. And it's quite obvious that some people are able to get a more pleasing tone, even with one note, out of an instrument, than others are. Gary mentioned the old piano rolls. I've only heard a few of those, and they were hardly satisfactory. I've heard the modern Yamaha mechanism, and the sound it produces gets tiring all too soon.
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#2244419 - 03/10/14 07:05 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
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.

That's exactly what I mean.
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#2244579 - 03/11/14 04:51 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Gary, I was sitting at the grand moments ago, when it occurred to me to look at the hammers and see how much control the key actually has over the hammer. It looks like there's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 inches of total hammer travel, and the key is controlling all but the last 1/4 inch of that travel. It would be like bowling where the bowler runs down the alley except for the final foot, where the ball is released. In other words, it would appear that there is tremendous control over the hammer by the direct motion of the key.

Thoughts?

John, my immediate thought would be that the moment the bowling ball is released could impart all sorts of spin on the ball, so it could be spinning backwards or sideways - a lot like a pool ball. If you stroke a cue ball slowly at one end of the table, by the time it hits a ball at the other end it really doesn't matter how you hit it (other than knocking it off course with spin), because by the other end of the table it will be rolling slowly.

But if you hit that same cue ball with HARD, with draw (backspin), it makes a huge difference, as anyone who plays pool knows.

But with a hammer the hammer is held in line. The moment it is no longer pushed the only thing left is the velocity of the hammer. It's going to hit the same strings in the same place in the same way.

Now, you can argue that there are other factors, but I believe they are extremely minor.

There are a lot of things that are part of the sound we hear, but can we distinguish them?

With the lid up on a grand I can clearly hear the difference when holding down a chord with my fingers of whether or not the damper pedal is down. I can hear the sound open up as I depress the pedal, the opposite when I lift it. Obviously other strings are free to vibrate sympathetically, and then they are not.

But can I hear the difference between those two sounds if the pedal is not changed? I'm not sure. I do know that I can't hear the difference if someone does it, on stage, while I am sitting several rows back where the audience would be.

But for me the main point is this:

If 10 different people play one note on my piano at about the same dynamic level, just pressing the key and then holding it for a few seconds, will I hear a difference?

I won't. If you can, you are hearing things I can't hear. smile
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#2244598 - 03/11/14 05:49 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Gary mentioned the old piano rolls. I've only heard a few of those, and they were hardly satisfactory. I've heard the modern Yamaha mechanism, and the sound it produces gets tiring all too soon.

John, here are two recordings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt_gcYP6QEk

Supposedly this is Rachmaninov, but on a piano roll. I have no idea how this was done, so pardon my ignorance.

Start at 4:00, Lilacs. I may show myself to be a fool, but I have listened back and forth between this and the real deal, and old recording:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72xh91KTOOA

I don't know this piece, so I am only going on what I am listening to. But it sounds like the same person, the same phrasing, the same touch. The same magic. If this is someone from today, pretending to be Rachmaninov, mimicking his style, sound, phrasing, then he fools me.

If I am right about this really is Rach himself, but on a mechanical device, I fully admit it raises way many questions than it answers.

Why are most of the piano roll recordings so fake and so obviously inferior sounding? Why does this recording sound so good? Who did this? How?

My answers are not answers, but questions: apparently SOME how the genius of Rachmaninov is coming through in both recordings. The roll recording is slightly higher in pitch. Other than that I prefer it, because of the sound, for the same reason that I prefer recordings made recently to those made early in the 20th century, but otherwise I would give both recordings a tie. It seems like there is more subtlety in the roll recording. How could that be? I do know from talking to older pianists (long ago) that they had to make compromises because of the equipment and other factors. Today's pianists don't have to do that.

So the roll recording sounds, to me, more like modern day recordings. Other than that, it just sounds very good, and 100% like Rachmaninov.

I wish I had another example, something that is more famous and perhaps that we might both like better, but however the "roll" recording was made, I think it makes it obvious that we have way more questions to answer about how we hear than we have solid answers.
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#2244634 - 03/11/14 08:39 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keystring
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.

That's exactly what I mean.


To expand on the idea - in the old days the only recorded model that we had were illustrations and photographs in books. Unfortunately that is still what is often used today. So a student in the past tried to make his hand a ball-holding shape - later the debate was whether it should be a flatter shape - or maybe it should "be" the shape that happens when you hang your hand straight down. The question was always which pictured shape is it?

But the hand of the person playing is in motion. Playing is motion. Which position or shape has to be the wrong question, and the wrong goal. Trying to "have" the right shape implies a static shape to the hand.

In fact, isn't it the same for posture as shown in the books? Yes, you have a given distance from the keys, height of the bench, you don't slump over. But in playing you go forward into the black keys, sideways to the distant keys - even Rubinstein demonstrate a gentle swaying governed by where along the keyboard he is going.

So if a student tries to adhere to a shape or position as in a picture, he may be limiting the looseness of motion he needs to have, because live players are not photographs. Could this thinking actually be causing problems?

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#2244650 - 03/11/14 09:37 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.

My answers are not answers, but questions: apparently SOME how the genius of Rachmaninov is coming through in both recordings. The roll recording is slightly higher in pitch. Other than that I prefer it, because of the sound, for the same reason that I prefer recordings made recently to those made early in the 20th century, but otherwise I would give both recordings a tie. It seems like there is more subtlety in the roll recording. How could that be? I do know from talking to older pianists (long ago) that they had to make compromises because of the equipment and other factors. Today's pianists don't have to do that.


I also listened back and forth. It would be very interesting to learn what was done. The blurb under the playing says
Quote:
Rachmaninoff performs his solo piano works in a spectacular recording made on a Bosendorfer 290SE piano, using the music rolls made in his time. This remarkable listening experience brings Rachmaninoff's phenomenal pianistic talent to life in today's world. By using unprecedented new techniques of transfer and reproduction, the mechanical aspects of music roll performances have been eliminated. More astonishingly, these advances reveal the subtleties and fine details of Rachmaninoff's playing with startling clarity, showing us why he was regarded as perhaps the greatest pianist of his time.

I'd like to find out more about what they did.

Regardless, it gives us wonderful insights into Rachmaninoff's vision of his own music, and his playing.

I am curious about something in the first recording, Prelude in C# minor - what is happening from 0:13 to 0:14. The chord suddenly becomes quieter. What did he do to produce that? Would a soft pedal on a grand have an effect by suddenly shifting the mechanism over, even if the strings are already vibrating? Or release of the damper, suddenly cutting out sympathetic vibration of other strings, while holding down only the played notes?

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#2245020 - 03/11/14 10:50 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
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Even releasing the damper pedal then quickly pressing it again produces a drop in volume. Doing this a few times in a row creates an artificially fast decay, although of course its effect is limited to the resonating strings not the ones held with the fingers.

The soft pedal can't do anything to affect notes that have already been struck.
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#2245156 - 03/12/14 02:12 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: hreichgott]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: hreichgott
Even releasing the damper pedal then quickly pressing it again produces a drop in volume. Doing this a few times in a row creates an artificially fast decay, although of course its effect is limited to the resonating strings not the ones held with the fingers.

I here it done only once, and it is exactly as you say. You sort of "bounce" the sustain. The dampers come down just long enough to brush the strings, and that partially stops them, but an immediately re-depression then lifts them back up. So you get an instance, noticeable cut in volume and resonance.

This also clears up another matter. Both hands then have to play the moving chord, while the bass notes resonate. Some people recommend using the sostenuto pedal, which I don't like at all. It takes away the una corda, and we don't have three feet. For sure Rachmaninov elected to used the sustain and the una corda.

I did not mention this recording because it is a recording of a cliche, and I don't think Rachmaninov played this too often except under pressure because he got sick of "being asked to play 'my prelude'".

I was hoping a few people would listen to the two recordings of Lilacs and compare them. So far no takers...

The soft pedal can't do anything to affect notes that have already been struck. [/quote]
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#2245159 - 03/12/14 02:28 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.

I was hoping a few people would listen to the two recordings of Lilacs and compare them. So far no takers...

I did listen to the two recordings of Lilacs, and hoped to see what the other teachers would have to say about it. smile

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#2245400 - 03/12/14 02:29 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Well, I finally had a chance to listen to the two this morning. It's quite evident that the live recording was played on a NY Steinway - the timbre is unmistakable - but if I hadn't been told that the other recording was on a Bosie, I would have guessed a Hamburg Steinway or Yamaha. Of the two, I preferred the live recording, even given the considerably less fidelity. It seemed a bit strident, for want of a better term.
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#2245455 - 03/12/14 04:40 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Well, I finally had a chance to listen to the two this morning. It's quite evident that the live recording was played on a NY Steinway - the timbre is unmistakable - but if I hadn't been told that the other recording was on a Bosie, I would have guessed a Hamburg Steinway or Yamaha. Of the two, I preferred the live recording, even given the considerably less fidelity. It seemed a bit strident, for want of a better term.

Which recording sounds strident?

Did you listen on speakers or earphones?

But this all skips my point: I can't tell that the recording supposedly made from the roll is not played by a person. I do not hear something missing in terms of phrasing, dynamics and so on. It's not like one is Rachmaninov, but the second sounds like some vastly inferior machine. I hear the same very musical things happening in both.

You can't do that with voice, or trumpet, or flute. Because on those instruments all the variables that make up "tone" are far more complicated.
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#2245460 - 03/12/14 04:47 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
keystring Online   content
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One thing I heard was voicing and dynamics on both, and that surprised me. This would come from velocity of the hammers which is a resulting "force times speed" which in turn sends the hammers flying and so forth. So somehow the piano roll must have measured this. That is not implausible. Anyone remembering the old manual typewriters will notice some letters being lighter or darker as stronger or weaker fingers struck the keys.

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#2245465 - 03/12/14 04:52 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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The recording of the piano roll sounded a bit strident to me.
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#2245473 - 03/12/14 05:03 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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I suddenly get it. I think that the comparison of Rachmaninoff via piano roll and Rachmaninoff recorded directly is about this:
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

How were those studies conducted? With a steady-state mechanical device which varied velocity only? Or did they vary key depression depth as well as velocity? Did it vary where in the key stroke acceleration occurred? Was the velocity achieved smoothly over the full key stroke? Or suddenly just near the beginning or end of the key stroke? Does the whiplash of the hammer, when too rapid acceleration occurs, affect the sound? Are there other components to the total sound, such as the key hitting the keybed(not a silent process as I suspect many here might suppose - try it on an unstrung piano)? I raise these questions because I've never seen them discussed in piano journals and am not personally familiar with them. And it's quite obvious that some people are able to get a more pleasing tone, even with one note, out of an instrument, than others are. Gary mentioned the old piano rolls. I've only heard a few of those, and they were hardly satisfactory. I've heard the modern Yamaha mechanism, and the sound it produces gets tiring all too soon.


As I understand it, part of the idea is that what the hand mechanism does throughout the playing of a note will have an effect on the final sounds produced. If so, then the piano roll should be different from the recording.

My thought is that the various things we do when playing will have an effect on what force and speed the key gets touched, and how the hammer is being sent flying. But the end result will be a moment of impact at a given force and speed. If so, then the two recordings will sound the same (barring quality of recording equipment and of the piano itself).

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#2245492 - 03/12/14 05:31 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I can't tell that the recording supposedly made from the roll is not played by a person. I do not hear something missing in terms of phrasing, dynamics and so on. It's not like one is Rachmaninov, but the second sounds like some vastly inferior machine. I hear the same very musical things happening in both.

Gary, I'm not sure I can put this into words, but I will try.

It's obvious, from the clues of "phrasing, dynamics and so on," that it's the same pianist playing. Yet, had I heard only the piano roll version, and you told me that it was Rach, I would have accepted it only based on your word, because the playing doesn't sound to me like playing I'm used to of his on recordings. For want of a better term, it sounds a bit "poundy" which is obviously not his style. I'm hearing something which differentiates the two. What it is, I call tone, but which many tell me doesn't exist, or at least, a player cannot influence. I hear it all the time, even with (and especially with) artists. Some produce a very sweet tone, and others, a rather harsh and unpleasant tone.

Which brings us back full circle to the original topic, hand position - does it matter? While the rounded hand position may be a great point of departure for beginning students, I prefer that a student's hand be aligned with the key where ever possible, so that they have maximum control of the key. And this means a moving, flexible wrist, which is constantly realigning the hand to the demands of the keys being played. The sound they produce overall is more pleasing.
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#2245498 - 03/12/14 05:44 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
I suddenly get it. I think that the comparison of Rachmaninoff via piano roll and Rachmaninoff recorded directly is about this:
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

How were those studies conducted? With a steady-state mechanical device which varied velocity only? Or did they vary key depression depth as well as velocity? Did it vary where in the key stroke acceleration occurred? Was the velocity achieved smoothly over the full key stroke? Or suddenly just near the beginning or end of the key stroke? Does the whiplash of the hammer, when too rapid acceleration occurs, affect the sound? Are there other components to the total sound, such as the key hitting the keybed(not a silent process as I suspect many here might suppose - try it on an unstrung piano)? I raise these questions because I've never seen them discussed in piano journals and am not personally familiar with them. And it's quite obvious that some people are able to get a more pleasing tone, even with one note, out of an instrument, than others are. Gary mentioned the old piano rolls. I've only heard a few of those, and they were hardly satisfactory. I've heard the modern Yamaha mechanism, and the sound it produces gets tiring all too soon.


As I understand it, part of the idea is that what the hand mechanism does throughout the playing of a note will have an effect on the final sounds produced. If so, then the piano roll should be different from the recording.

My thought is that the various things we do when playing will have an effect on what force and speed the key gets touched, and how the hammer is being sent flying. But the end result will be a moment of impact at a given force and speed. If so, then the two recordings will sound the same (barring quality of recording equipment and of the piano itself).

The question is whether we can hear "other things". A person is going to strike the keys with fingers, and we can hear those sounds. The problem is this: we don't if that makes enough of a difference to affect how we hear. Can the sounds of the fingers hitting the keys be heard from from several rows back in an auditorium?

I don't think so, but if you have a pianist slamming the keys down from several inches away from the keys for very loud chords, that might make a difference. Normally the sounds made by the hammers striking the strings cover that stuff up.

There is another set of sounds that may make more of a difference. If you play a DP with the sound turned off, the noise of the keys hitting the keyboard bed is pretty loud. If you think of "riding" the key all the way to the bottom as opposed to pushing it down half way and letting the key travel on its own, there will be a theoretical difference. The key itself may continue to accelerate AFTER the escape has taken place, even though once the hammer is thrown, it will not change the hammer velocity. If the key is released as the hammer is thrown, the key will deaccelerate, so the sound of the key striking the key bed may be lesser.

I think this difference is pretty minor. Others disagree.

Obviously with a mike all these sounds are picked up. But when the roll is played there will be no sound of fingers hitting keys. And how are the hammers thrown into motion with the roll mechanism? Obviously there are not little mechanical fingers, moving over the keyboard, pushing the keys down. At least I ASSUME not.

So my picture, right or wrong, is more like the way midi data drives the Yamaha pianos that will "play" music with midi. The problem there is that if the midi data is not created on the same piano that plays it back, you aren't going to get the same sound on any other piano. To me THAT is the biggest problem. Someone has to decide what piano is most compatible with the data from the roll, and even so things are going to change.
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#2246011 - 03/13/14 03:31 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Gary D. Offline
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Meanwhile, no one ever defined what the "correct hand position" is...
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#2246033 - 03/13/14 04:06 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
ezpiano.org Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Irvine, CA
I think "correct hand position" means "relax hand position".
Just my humble opinion.
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#2246229 - 03/13/14 10:03 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1048
I don't think it is overrated. After spending a few months really focusing on my own hand position while playing, I can say playing piano is much easier when the good hand position is maintained. Two things that were beneficial (and can be verified while sitting here at my computer)
- keeping a rounded bridge. If the bridge of my hand becomes flattened, it means I'm pressing down into the keys and my fingers aren't as free to move
- avoiding collapsed joint in my fingers. If the end joint my my finger caves in, this means I'm continuing to try to pull my finger in towards my palm even though it is not moving on the key. Also not good because then I have to use more effort to move my fingers again

If I strive to maintain this position, I HAVE to relax my fingers and wrists, and then it becomes possible to play even passagework easily.

Edit: this is valid for passages not requiring large reaches


Edited by Arghhh (03/13/14 10:08 PM)

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#2246454 - 03/14/14 10:33 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: ezpiano.org]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11574
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
I think "correct hand position" means "relax hand position".
Just my humble opinion.

.... and a relaxed hand also means a hand that is ready to change shape as the music changes.

I was told before that my idea was on track. Namely that if a student tries to "hold" a shape, as if trying to replicate a static picture in a book, then this contrary to the fluid nature of playing. I am wondering whether the idea of "having a shape" has caused problems in the past that might not have been recognized?

(Btw, why is this called "position"? I think of location on the keyboard and the range the hand will cover when I see the word. I've been puzzled about the term.)

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#2249421 - 03/20/14 11:19 AM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: TimR]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1197
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Tim and Gary,

"Trouble is there are quite a few studies that say if you're only playing one note, loudness is tone, and velocity is velocity."

Those studies don't really mean anything. I've been reading those since I was a kid, and they conclude erroneously that timbre and tone color cannot be influenced by touch.

Except that people have been going to hear great artists play who can make a "beautiful" sound, and can also produce different colors and timbres independent of volume. Rubinstein was famous for it among others, as was Gieseking. And then there are all the very famous, highly respected teachers who claim they can teach someone how to make such timbral changes.

So who's right? Millions of concert goers and critics over 100+ years, who can hear the differences? Or the experiments, who say the phenomena don't happen even if people hear them?

That tells me that the studies were flawed in some way and did not accurately measure the observable phenomena in their entirety. For example,

1- The premise of the experiment was flawed. It was never going to measure the correct variables that would account for the phenomena in the first place,

2- The scientist or lab tech did not properly control all the variables for one reason or another, and/or

3- The tools used to measure the experiment were either not used properly or were the wrong ones for the job.


Edited by laguna_greg (03/20/14 01:10 PM)
Edit Reason: forgot a "not"
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#2250144 - 03/21/14 07:53 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
BostonTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/14
Posts: 40
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Gary, I was sitting at the grand moments ago, when it occurred to me to look at the hammers and see how much control the key actually has over the hammer. It looks like there's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 inches of total hammer travel, and the key is controlling all but the last 1/4 inch of that travel. It would be like bowling where the bowler runs down the alley except for the final foot, where the ball is released. In other words, it would appear that there is tremendous control over the hammer by the direct motion of the key.

Thoughts?


It must have to do with speed of attack then. I had a few lessons with a teacher who based her technique on speed rather than weight. At that moment I couldn't possibly change my whole technique *again* I had just been through an excruciating technique "recycling" period but it made a lot of sense.

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#2250157 - 03/21/14 08:24 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: BostonTeacher]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1197
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: BostonTeacher
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Gary, I was sitting at the grand moments ago, when it occurred to me to look at the hammers and see how much control the key actually has over the hammer. It looks like there's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 inches of total hammer travel, and the key is controlling all but the last 1/4 inch of that travel. It would be like bowling where the bowler runs down the alley except for the final foot, where the ball is released. In other words, it would appear that there is tremendous control over the hammer by the direct motion of the key.

Thoughts?


It must have to do with speed of attack then. I had a few lessons with a teacher who based her technique on speed rather than weight. At that moment I couldn't possibly change my whole technique *again* I had just been through an excruciating technique "recycling" period but it made a lot of sense.


Hi John and Boston,

Well, that's Dorothy Taubman's idea about keystroke timing all over again. I've found it to be very useful.

Boston, that shift from using weight or force to speed is actually not hard to make. It makes playing a whole lot easier.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2253284 - 03/27/14 09:12 PM Re: Is hand position overrated? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
DinaP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/12
Posts: 151
Andrew Thayer has a blog devoted to the "physics" involved in playing piano. Best way to navigate it is to use the archive in the right hand column and start with the earliest year.

Go to:
http://pianoscience.blogspot.co.uk/

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