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#384837 - 08/18/07 10:40 PM Lifting the Fingers
pgtramont Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 8
Loc: Connecticut
At the introduction of Hanon's 1st exercise, he indicates that one is to "lift the fingers high, and with precision." My question is does this mean to lift the individual finger high, isolated from the hand, or does it mean to lift the whole hand up with the finger that is about to play (leaving the finger that is already playing a key down of course, before the next note is played)?
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#384838 - 08/18/07 10:54 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
you might not want to read into Hanon's own instruction much, which is quite debatable and many advocates not to do because you might injure yourself without advices from a teacher.

but lifting fingering itself (not that you have to lift each finger that high to injure yourself!) has its own merit: improving articulation. my teacher had me doing some finger lifting practice (only lift the finger which just released a key) on purpose, because my articulation was bad: with overlapping sound from finger to finger sometimes. it's quite helpful.

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#384839 - 08/18/07 11:19 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
hopinmad Offline
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Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
When I find myself unable to articulate something as I wish, I lift the fingers up high and after a while it seems as though I am suddenly able to articulate it as I wish!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#384840 - 08/18/07 11:29 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Hanon meant the individual finger, isolated from the rest of the hand, but that was back when pianos had a much lighter touch and before overuse injuries were understood.

Today there is considerable debate on the issue.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#384841 - 08/18/07 11:34 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
DON'T DO IT! It's called a Hammer action. This is a 19th technique that damaged many young aspiring players. There is a way to lift fingers to develop strength but not with Hanon!
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#384842 - 08/19/07 12:29 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
pgtramont Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 8
Loc: Connecticut
 Quote:
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
DON'T DO IT! It's called a Hammer action. This is a 19th technique that damaged many young aspiring players. There is a way to lift fingers to develop strength but not with Hanon! [/b]
Whew! Thanks for warning me, I'm just starting out (without a teacher, mind you) and I want to avoid bad habits and potential injury from the outset. Could you elaborate on the other ways to to lift fingers for the development of strength apart from Hanon, like you mentioned?
_________________________
"To play without passion is inexcusable!"
- Ludwig van Beethoven

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#384843 - 08/19/07 12:46 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
This may raise a small storm of posts but:
Hold down CDEFG with fingers 12345. Lift each finger high and play the key a few times while the others hold their keys down. Do this with left as well as right hand. This is not done in a hurry. The problem with Hanon is the speed with which you hammer the keys from a height can be so destructive. I suppose it's the piano version of goose-stepping.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#384844 - 08/19/07 01:03 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
PLEASE CONSIDER THIS:
I'm not so sure this exercise creates strength, it seems to me it is producing independence and equality in the moving finger and control of sustaining in the holding fingers.

You must have well curved joints which do not cave in to do this well, and be playing on the fat pad at the end of the finger to do this correctly.

At the same time be forewarned that when you get to fingers number 4 (ring fingers) and you are holding down all the other fingers, the 4th finger barely can lift this is it's limitation and do not work to try to lift it higher than it already lifts. Finger 5 are weak little things don't try to hammer with them.

In fact, I would not recommend hammering with any of the fingers in this exercise.

This is from my experience in teaching piano that I would provide these cautions and explanation. Again, avoiding injury or strain is the watch word as is the unnecessary and incorrect use of finger exercises.

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#384845 - 08/19/07 06:02 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
lol while you're at it... why not try lifting JUST the 4th finger.... with a brick tied to it...............
.................................................. I heard it worked just GREAT for Schumann..... hahahahah but seriously. don't lift your fingers. the keys only ever need to come up 1 cm. Why "train" your fingers to lift way higher than they have to in playing? It will not make them more independent... not only is this dangerus AND unhelpful for playing the piano, it is just plain counterproductive.

You should never lift the fingers high when playing.

Why why why? why would you lift the fingers? If you want something to lift, lift weights.

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#384846 - 08/19/07 06:23 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Abby Whiteside's theory of fingers was that they are merely the bones that we point with and that the shoulder, the elbow, the arm, and the wrist are the power behind the fingers. Relying on rotation and down ups at the wrist allows the fingers to play individual keys, but without the finger action most of us use.

I have just started to read her pedagogy and I find it very, very detailed and exacting. It is as though each page needs to be reduced to concepts on file card for careful study. They do not easily make sense just by the reading of her theories, the doing of them as exercises is complex in study, as there is physiology involved, and then the touch, and learning to work with all the component part from the shoulder to the finger.

I have blacksmith to thank for my new book on Abby Whiteside, and I am reading it avidly because it is so different from what I know - it is the "Chopin Etudes" that the book is preparing you for.

There is usually a lot of different, even opposing techniques throughout the keyboard history of playing - but I don't mind controvery and discussion. I think technique is an individual preference based on how well you study the subject, and what you find that fits your body. The expression part comes from your mind, but requires techniques in place to produce the sound you are intending.

That's my take on technique and how to use the fingers - lifting or not lifting. It's all debatable.

We really recognize the beauty of an accomplished pianist and composer team when we hear an exceptional performance of an exceptional piece.

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#384847 - 08/19/07 08:37 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
pgtramont:

I would seriously recommend that you study piano with an experienced teacher who can monitor your technique and make sure you're not doing something that could potentially injure yourself.

There are many "schools of piano" out there that advocate different ways of lifting (finger, hand, palm, wrist, arm, what-have-you). Find one that suits your particular needs. It's important to feel comfortable when playing the piano. It took me many years (and many teachers) to find the one technique that truly worked for me, and I've been practicing it ever since.

Best of luck in your piano studies!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#384848 - 08/19/07 10:39 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Abby Whiteside's theory of fingers was that they are merely the bones that we point with
Betty, I realize you're on the fence on this one. I'd like to point out that we wouldn't even have got as far as stone tools if this had been the case.

 Quote:
It took me many years (and many teachers) to find the one technique that truly worked for me
Good point. The chances are against your first teacher being 'for you'. Make sure you 'do the rounds'.

Mr_Kitty is right - Try and have your fingers in contact with the keys BEFORE key depression. To build strength it's OK to lift high in a controlled fashion as an exercise (Mr_Kitty DISagrees with this).
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#384849 - 08/19/07 02:47 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
KEYBOARDKLUTZ said: "Betty, I realize you're on the fence on this one. I'd like to point out that we wouldn't even have got as far as stone tools if this had been the case."

How true my being on the fence is! You, keyboardklutz, are very knowledgable and firm with your technique. I am still sampling.

I am reading just about anything by pedagogues to check on their theories and the evolution of playing piano. I have done this previously with many pedagogues, and so much of it has been very, very helpful to be as a teacher - the "how" and "why". I am continuing to do this again with Abby Whiteside, Hettie Bolton, and Fanny Waterman.

In reading about technique you find all kinds of ideas! Some relevant and some preposterous! I especially find some postings on PWF to be preposterous and convoluted when someone who has not arrived at keyboard proficiency or music reading proficiency is expounding on what they think they discovered and now know. It is wise to be cautious about any intake you receive through reading books or postings. Test drive the information and consider it over time, if need be.

I posted about Abby Whiteside to bring to attention how radical to us some thinking seems. If you consider yourself a lifelong learner reading about technique might be of interest to you, but it isn't everyone's cup of tea. I am always looking for the "tidbits" of information that help communicate ideas that have value.

Betty

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#384850 - 08/19/07 03:15 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
JBiegel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 850
Sometimes, the best way to study the Hanon exercises is staccato. It naturally lifts your fingers without strain, and offers equal weight distribution.
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#384851 - 08/19/07 07:04 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
see i do staccato FROM the key surface. along with EVERYTHING else.
if you DO wish to lift your fingers above the key surface, do it carefully. But you'll probably injure yourself, and lifting won't improve your playing.
Striking the keys from above creates an inferior sound with very little sustain.

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#384852 - 08/19/07 10:17 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
dfpolitowski Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/06
Posts: 166
Loc: New Jersey
Hay, everyone, I want to learn how to lift the fingers this way.

Lifting the fingers
_________________________
David

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#384853 - 08/19/07 10:51 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
Now THAT'S kinesthetics!
_________________________
Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina

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#384854 - 08/19/07 11:20 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
There is a common problem that young cellists face, which is lifting the fingers too high. We're taught to keep our fingers very close to the fingerboard, because it saves time and energy, and makes things much easier. It's very important to curve the fingers, so that we're not pressing down on other strings that need to be played at the same time, but the actual finger tips stay close. I'm told guitarists are careful about this, too -- to keep the fingers as close as possible to the fingerboard.

It's the same with piano. You really only *need* to lift the fingers high enough for the keys to rise back up to normal, and that "high enough" is not very high.

The trouble is, it's hard to get it "just right"! A lot of people, thinking they are doing okay, are actually still holding the keys down a little, and this runs the risk of causing muddiness in the sound and difficulty in getting from one key to the next.

So, it makes sense that young pianists are taught at first to lift their fingers very high -- because it's better to lift your fingers too high, and get them away from the keys, than to not lift them high enough and cause trouble that way. If you can learn to lift your fingers too high, then what you REALLY are learning how to do is control your fingers, and eventually you will have enough control to lift your fingers just barely enough over the keys so that you can play more efficiently.
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#384855 - 08/20/07 06:00 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Mr_Kitty Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/07
Posts: 667
Loc: Toronto
Sam
very interesting of you to bring up guitarists. I have a friend who is a prodigious guitarist and we often discuss the parallels of guitar technique and piano technique. He constantly talks of keeping the fingertips as close to the fretboard as possible. When watching the greatest technicians of the guitar, e.g. Holdsworth, that is the first thing I notice about their technique: the LH efficiency!
I played the cello for 6 or 7 years and all I can say is the closer the fingertips to the fingerboard, the better. Lol cello actually did great things for my LH pianistically... independence-wise and stuff.

I think it's highly appropriate to apply these energy-saving techniques to the piano. Piano technique is very different today than it was in Hanon's time. So are pianos.

to all fingerlifters out there: Lift with Caution!!!!

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#384856 - 08/20/07 10:00 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Watch a Charlie Parker video on youtube. You'll see the same.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#384857 - 08/20/07 09:25 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1520
Technique is effected by the action of the piano. For fast light linear type playing, less than 1/4" of lift should be the maximum. Playing at the key surface is ideal (no noticeable "lift"). For forte and at moderate or slower speeds, the arms lift and drop the fingers (Whiteside tried to explain it).
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1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#384858 - 08/20/07 09:37 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I'm also on Hanon exercise 1.

This is tough to learn properly without a teacher or having someone who knows what they're doing guiding you.

When it says in the book about lifting the fingers is correct in part, but the fingers don't do all the work. As you approach four and five, the wrist should be rolling slightly outwards in unison to the notes being played, then rolled back to an upright position as you approach one and two -- at least this is the way I'm being taught.

I think I know what to do, but my fourth and fifth are retarded and won't listen to me. I feel your pain. Hopefully time and about 1,000 more tries will make the awkwardness I'm feeling go away.

Very difficult to describe in words.

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#384859 - 08/20/07 10:32 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Hanon Ex 1:

Since it is repetious, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 fingering is a constant given avoiding the issue of "who" plays next (who being your fingers).

I teach students to put their hand first in a 5 finger position and then adjust the hand to fit the pattern.

This one's range is C-EFGA. So you could approach it at least two ways as RH DEFGA and move the thumb to the left - or as CDEFG and keep the thumb in position moving all of the other fingers (2-3-4-5) away from the thumb into place on their keys. Either gets the keys under hand.

I also like to combine this one with the 5 Finger C position. It would go like this.
CDEFGFEDC-EFGHGFEDEFGAGFED-FGABAGFE-G...etc....
This allows for an easy and planned extension of the 2345 away from the thumb. I think this combination of both helpsthe hand prepare for the Hanon 1.

From the top descending the spacing will occur between the 5-4 fingers.

Any exercise you are doing should feel fluid and easy to do. You should not do it if you have starts and stops and uncertainty.

If you are finding any exercise hard to do, playing a game of "Adding One New Note At A Time would help you learn the sequence or pattern.
Play first note/Play first, second note/Play first, second/third note/etc. This really helps shapes things up fast.

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#384860 - 08/21/07 10:30 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
schmickus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/05
Posts: 85
Loc: Bonn, Germany
Hi,

1) there is no need for actively lifting your fingers at all. When the key is supposed to lift just RELAX the muscles of your finger. The key will travel upwards. Thus your fingers, hands, arms and shoulders will stay free and flexible

2) Why wasting your time and energy with stuff like Hanon??? Is it good music? No. Will it improve your technique? Maybe, but only slowly, and you are allways at risk hurting your hands.
Get yourself the 2 and 3-part Inventions by Bach, practise hands-separate until you play the piece perfectly, then start with hands-together. And enjoy the music!

Good luck!

Schmickus
_________________________
physicist, hobby pianist, lyrical tenor.
As a student I used to broker pianos

Mason&Hamlin AA, 1908
Blüthner 190, 6ft3, 1903
J.L. Duysen 195, 6ft6, 1897, (under construction)

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#384861 - 08/21/07 10:54 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I've always found it fascinating how many people dislike Hanon given the number of excellent pianists who practiced it during their student years.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#384862 - 08/21/07 10:58 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Alan G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/07
Posts: 20
Loc: Ireland
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
I'm told guitarists are careful about this, too -- to keep the fingers as close as possible to the fingerboard.
[/b]
Oh yes - as I know from my own guitar experience. I find it quite obvious with playing the guitar, that if you don't play with a close left hand when doing fast scales or arpeggios, they won't happen!

As for this technique with the piano - Well generally the set/home position for the fingers should be close to the keys, and not lifting too high. There are times when it's allowable, for me; playing some staccato notes for example.

However for playing a fast scale or something, obviously lifting fingers high can prevent speed.

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#384863 - 08/21/07 11:28 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Shouldn't the technique be identical, whether you play it at (M.M.) 60 or 108? It seems to me if you lift your fingers high at 60, the 'exact same technique' would not be possible (or perhaps 'difficult' might be the better word) at 108.

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#384864 - 08/21/07 11:54 PM Re: Lifting the Fingers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Well said Schmickus!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#384865 - 08/22/07 10:23 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
schmickus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/05
Posts: 85
Loc: Bonn, Germany
Hi

Kreisler, good point. But these great pianists you mentioned would have become great without Hanon too, and even quicker and safer. Practising Hanon is some kind of tradition, and not every single tradition is worth sustaining


Akira,

while walking, jogging and sprinting you use different kinds of movement and muscle coordination, don't you? Well, the same goes for playing the piano at different speeds.

keyboardklutz,

thank you!


Schmickus
_________________________
physicist, hobby pianist, lyrical tenor.
As a student I used to broker pianos

Mason&Hamlin AA, 1908
Blüthner 190, 6ft3, 1903
J.L. Duysen 195, 6ft6, 1897, (under construction)

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#384866 - 08/22/07 10:34 AM Re: Lifting the Fingers
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
The tradition is the Stuttgart school. Young people spend 8 hours a day for years doing these. Many were damaged for life. It's all in Amy Fay. I also remember reading warnings about the school from a turn of the century English doctor.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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