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Topic Options
#559997 - 10/10/08 12:00 PM How can I make my fingers stronger?
pedrotome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Portugal
I'm new here, so HI! ^^
Well, I play piano since I was... like... 6?
I'm almost 15 now, and I am studying in a Music Conservatory.
When I practice a lot, my finger tips (where your fingers touch the piano keys) start hurting a lot and I can barely play or even touch my fingers in a hard surface (like a table or the computer keyboard). I'd like to know how to make my fingers stronger... My teacher has.. like... callouses in her fingertips, so I thought having some would help me. \:\)
So... do you know how to get callouses in the fingertips?

I've been "playing" piano in my school's window sills (which are made of stone) and I noticed my fingertips are getting harder, just like I want, but I don't know if there is another (faster) way to get callouses, so I came here asking for your help.

So... (again)do you know how to get callouses in the fingertips?


Thanks a lot and excuse my english, I'm from Portugal and today I'm kind of lazy and don't wanna think much before typing. \:\)

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#559998 - 10/10/08 12:08 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
kentm Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/20/08
Posts: 126
Loc: Camp Verde, AZ.
Pedrotome:

Necessito tocar la guitarra.

THAT will callus your fingertips. ;\)
_________________________
Play skillfully!.....Psalm 33:3

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#559999 - 10/10/08 12:10 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22281
Loc: Oakland
You do not need callouses. Strength in play comes from using your entire body together, not just from the fingers. The strength you need as a pianist is mainly stamina, not force.

If your fingers hurt after playing, it is probably because you are holding them too vertical. Flatten your hand, and do not play with your fingertips as much.

A callous is a response to an injury. You should not be injuring your hands.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#560000 - 10/10/08 12:12 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
pedrotome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Portugal
lol, that's spanish, but whatever. hahah

Starting playing guitar would take some time... \:\)

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#560001 - 10/10/08 12:14 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Fleeting Visions Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 1501
Loc: Champaign, IL
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/WristFlexors/DBWristCurl.html

http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/WristExtensors/DBReverseWristCurl.html

You might also try the barbell curls of each type, or behind-the-back barbell wrist curls.

It makes me stiff when I do these, so I try to avoid them around my piano lesson. I think that the evening after my piano lesson is the best time.

Shoulder and back muscles are also very important in piano playing.

I don't know what to avoid- actually, I will start a thread about weightlifting.
_________________________
Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon

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#560002 - 10/10/08 12:42 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
BearLake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/08
Posts: 144
Loc: SE Idaho
Bem vindo! Sou gaucho Riograndense do Brasil!

I've never had the problem with finger tips hurting from playing the piano. But I certainly got sore fingers from playing the guitar, and my finger tips eventually developed callouses.

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#560003 - 10/10/08 12:50 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
iconoclast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
My guess is you've taken the standard teachers advice of 'play to the bottom of the keys' to the extreme and are now playing BELOW the keys. Stop and reevaluate your technique - the path you're on can easily lead to a repetitive stress injury.

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#560004 - 10/10/08 01:07 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Question? How does one play 'below the keys?' One does need a firm stroke and I can't see that callouses are any advantage. I play/practise regularly and don't have callouses tho I've been asked if I've developed them. I think that comes from poor approaches to technique and practice. From some of the pounding I've heard from some pianists, I can see that they would have callouses, hurting fingers, and, eventually, some kind of damage to the whole playing mechanism.

For Pedrotome, you should develop a good, firm, positive stroke when doing exercises and someone should show you how to develop the hand. My teacher advocated the hand development she was taught by the great Russian pianist, Gabrilowitsch. She certainly had a developed hand and I've been working on it. I've had no ill-effects or results from implementing it either. No wrist problems, no hurting fingers, no carpel tunnel syndrome, etc. So, it is essentially how you approach hand development.

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#560005 - 10/11/08 03:59 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2973
There is a simple, yet, effective exercise for developing finger tip strength( it is from the first book of Beniamino Cesi, where the first exercises are played with this method).

You hold down your thumb on B and other fingers are positioned on C,D,E and F (2,3,4,5 fingers).

Now you raise all fingers (holding down B with the thumb throughout the exercise) and play C with finger 2 firmly close to the black keys. And try to move finger 2 as slowly as possible (in 6-7 seconds duration) while pressing the key firmly to the end of the white key (towards your self). You must not allow your finger tip bending backwards while doing this. And no hand, arm etc. movement is allowed, only finger 2 will move.

Similarly, you play in the same manner with other fingers.

For the left hand you hold down F (with thumb) (below B) and play E,D,C,B in a contrary motion with the right hand.

As one finger reaches the end of the key you play the other finger (legato)

Cesi book has a variety of exercises that you play in this manner, but you can invent your own sets as you wish.

This is a very boring exercise but 15 minutes every day helps a lot.

Good luck.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

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#560006 - 10/11/08 09:05 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
pedrotome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Portugal
Thanks a lot guys. ^^

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#560007 - 10/11/08 09:24 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
RogerW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 441
I agree with iconoclast. If your fingertips hurt, it's not because of lack of strength, it's bad technique. I suggest you stop your excercises to develop callouses immediately, those are nothing but harmful. You do not want callouses on your fingers, you want your fingertips to be as sensitive as possible.

There's two probable reasons to your sore fingertips:

1. You play everything from above the keys, your fingers are already moving a great speed when they come in contact with the key. This causes repeated stress on your fingertips, on each keystroke there is a sudden force peak excerted on your fingers when they hit the solid object, the key. This can in most cases be avoided by playing from the keys. And also when playing from above the keys, you can avoid this by more careful timing of your fingers acceleration.

2. Like iconoclast said, you are playing below the keys. A couple of millimeters before the key hits the bottom, the hammer is released. Whatever force you excert on the key after this point has no effect on how the hammer hits the string. If you continue pushing the key down with great force all the way, the only effect it has is that your finger comes to a sudden stop when the key hits the bottom. This again causes unneccessary stress on your fingertip. With proper touch, the majority of force should be applied to the key when it actually accelerates the hammer. Once the hammer is already up to speed, you can release the pressure on the key and avoid the shock that comes from hitting the keybed.

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#560008 - 10/11/08 02:42 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
The problem could be that your hands are
"too clean" when you play. For example, if
you're washing your hands throughly with
soap and water before playing, that removes
all the natural oils and moisture from
your fingers, and when you play, the now too-dry
skin surface of your fingertips has
great friction on the keys. Just playing
a few notes like that is no problem,
but in a practice session you can easily
be playing tens of thousands of notes,
and with no protective barrier of natural
oils and moisture on your fingertips,
this can literally tear your fingertips
apart. The solution is to play with
"dirty" hands. Then the natural oils
and moisture on your fingertips protects
them. Some people are concerned when
they sweat too much when playing, but
that's actually good.

Another thing that might be causing a
problem is if you trim your nails just
before playing. The end of the nail
actually protects the fingertip from
damage, and so if you're trimming
the nails right before you play, you're
leaving your fingertips unprotected from
damage when hitting the keys. The
solution is to trim your nails before
going to bed. That gives them time to
grow ever so slightly during the night,
which allows them to give some protection
to the fingertips the next day when
you play.

If you trim you nails before playing and
in addition wash your hands thoroughly,
that compounds the problem, and your fingertips
really take a beating that way.

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#560009 - 10/11/08 04:37 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
The problem could be that your hands are
"too clean" when you play. For example, if
you're washing your hands throughly with
soap and water before playing, that removes
all the natural oils and moisture from
your fingers, and when you play, the now too-dry
skin surface of your fingertips has
great friction on the keys. Just playing
a few notes like that is no problem,
but in a practice session you can easily
be playing tens of thousands of notes,
and with no protective barrier of natural
oils and moisture on your fingertips,
this can literally tear your fingertips
apart. The solution is to play with
"dirty" hands. Then the natural oils
and moisture on your fingertips protects
them. Some people are concerned when
they sweat too much when playing, but
that's actually good.

Another thing that might be causing a
problem is if you trim your nails just
before playing. The end of the nail
actually protects the fingertip from
damage, and so if you're trimming
the nails right before you play, you're
leaving your fingertips unprotected from
damage when hitting the keys. The
solution is to trim your nails before
going to bed. That gives them time to
grow ever so slightly during the night,
which allows them to give some protection
to the fingertips the next day when
you play.

If you trim you nails before playing and
in addition wash your hands thoroughly,
that compounds the problem, and your fingertips
really take a beating that way. [/b]
Why would anyone want to transfer said oils to their piano? The keys can get unbelievably gross from playing with dirty hands. I wash up with soap if "dirty", w/o soap if not to "dirty", and then use a small amount of lotion rubbed in thoroughly to prevent dryness. Besides, with plastic keytops, one must keep them clean, or they get pretty slippery.

IMHO, it is better to file your nails instead of trim them. I stopped having trouble with the "quick" when I switched to filing exclusively. I find it is much easier to control the file, so I don't go too far with removal of nail.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#560010 - 10/11/08 04:46 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Reaper978 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/05
Posts: 1326
Try to find the middle-ground between striking and pressing, a bit of distance between the finger and the key is often necessary, but it can be softened by letting the fingers and wrists act as springs. Use the area a bit behind the tip of the finger rather than the absolute tip.

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#560011 - 10/11/08 05:28 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Deus ex Pianoforte Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/28/04
Posts: 346
Loc: California
I am thinking about getting one of these bad boys. Probably couldn't hurt.

http://prohands.net/Prohands-Music/index.php?gclid=CInZ3feOoJYCFQv7agodZQ416w

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#560012 - 10/11/08 06:06 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by Deus ex Pianoforte:
I am thinking about getting one of these bad boys. Probably couldn't hurt.

http://prohands.net/Prohands-Music/index.php?gclid=CInZ3feOoJYCFQv7agodZQ416w [/b]
I have heard that those can be more trouble than they are worth; i.e. injuries to the hand. I've only read this elsewhere, so it may not be entirely true. IMHO, the best way to get strong fingers is to play your instrument with appropriate technique. If you play guitar, though, you might try a heavier gauge of strings.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#560013 - 10/12/08 07:03 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
pedrotome Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Portugal
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
The problem could be that your hands are
"too clean" when you play. For example, if
you're washing your hands throughly with
soap and water before playing, that removes
all the natural oils and moisture from
your fingers, and when you play, the now too-dry
skin surface of your fingertips has
great friction on the keys. Just playing
a few notes like that is no problem,
but in a practice session you can easily
be playing tens of thousands of notes,
and with no protective barrier of natural
oils and moisture on your fingertips,
this can literally tear your fingertips
apart. The solution is to play with
"dirty" hands. Then the natural oils
and moisture on your fingertips protects
them. Some people are concerned when
they sweat too much when playing, but
that's actually good.

Another thing that might be causing a
problem is if you trim your nails just
before playing. The end of the nail
actually protects the fingertip from
damage, and so if you're trimming
the nails right before you play, you're
leaving your fingertips unprotected from
damage when hitting the keys. The
solution is to trim your nails before
going to bed. That gives them time to
grow ever so slightly during the night,
which allows them to give some protection
to the fingertips the next day when
you play.

If you trim you nails before playing and
in addition wash your hands thoroughly,
that compounds the problem, and your fingertips
really take a beating that way. [/b]
Well, I guess you're the answer..
I am always trimming my nails. It's like biting the nails, but I don't bite them. I use my left hand thumb nail to but, trim, destroy, whatever my right hand nails, and use my right hand thumb nail to do the same to the other hand's nails. Like, all the time! It's like an addiction...

My piano is an electronic piano (not a keyboard, it's a piano), so the keys are made of plastic and if I don't wash my hands, the get very slippery (they already are, cause my mom used some kind of cedar oil in the piano room's furniture and it evaporated and condensed in the keys. I tried cleaning them and they're better.... but the piano is 10 years old, and 10 years of finger sweat makes the keys slippery.....
SO I ALWAYS wash my hands THOROUGHLY before playing...


My playing technique is good, so that's not the problem..

What should I do!??

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#560014 - 10/12/08 08:41 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
David-G Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1266
Loc: London
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
The problem could be that your hands are
"too clean" when you play. For example, if
you're washing your hands throughly with
soap and water before playing, that removes
all the natural oils and moisture from
your fingers, and when you play, the now too-dry
skin surface of your fingertips has
great friction on the keys. Just playing
a few notes like that is no problem,
but in a practice session you can easily
be playing tens of thousands of notes,
and with no protective barrier of natural
oils and moisture on your fingertips,
this can literally tear your fingertips
apart. The solution is to play with
"dirty" hands. Then the natural oils
and moisture on your fingertips protects
them. Some people are concerned when
they sweat too much when playing, but
that's actually good. [/b]
I always wash my hands thoroughly before playing the piano, because I suspect that the natural oils may be one of the factors that causes ivory to go yellow. But I have never had any problem with wear or tear on my fingertips.

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#560015 - 10/12/08 08:49 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 12121
Loc: Canada
A question: Is it possible to get any sense of how far to go into the keys or how to respond back and forth between key and fingers when you have a DP?

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#560016 - 10/12/08 08:52 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Question: What is a DP?

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#560017 - 10/12/08 08:37 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Many young pianists get concerned about
their hands sweating when they play. But
that is actually good. It reduces friction
between the fingertips and the keys and
makes playing easier. Sweating hands
are a sign of youth and good health and
are something to be grateful for. As you get
older, years of use of soap and detergents
and alcohol-based products will destroy
the sweat glands in your hands, and then
you'll have the opposite problem, hands
that are too dry, which increases the
friction between the fingers and keys
and makes playing difficult.

You need to stop this habit of constantly
removing the ends of your fingernails,
because that removes the protection for
your fingertips, which is why you're having
the pain. Also, stop washing
your hands before playing. There's no
need for it, and it just makes playing
more difficult.

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#560018 - 10/12/08 08:59 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 12121
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Varcon:
Question: What is a DP? [/b]
Digital piano. I learned the expression here. \:\)

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#560019 - 10/12/08 09:25 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Keystring: Thanks! I really hate acronyms--there are so many and, while some are obvious, others evade me. That makes your response much more intelligible! \:\)

I doubt that Pedrotome's instrument has the feel of a piano. Now if someone could tell me how one can play 'below the keys' I would certainly appreciate that as well. It seems like a physical impossibility to me as the felt on the guide pin stops the key from further travel and the release of the hammer is in the action--not the key.

Now to find the oil and sweat and dirt to bring my playing up to real artistic standards! Can you believe it? I wash my hands pretty much every time--at least rinse them--before playing or practising. I had no idea I was hampering my progress by doing that. Wow!

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#560020 - 10/12/08 09:59 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Varcon:
Now to find the oil and sweat and dirt to bring my playing up to real artistic standards! Can you believe it? I wash my hands pretty much every time--at least rinse them--before playing or practising. I had no idea I was hampering my progress by doing that. Wow! [/b]
I kind of liked the impersonal image I previously had of Gyro playing his big-time concerto movement at 75% speed. I guess now I have to visualize dirty hands and untrimmed nails, too. Dang. \:\(

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#560021 - 10/13/08 01:14 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Fleeting Visions Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 1501
Loc: Champaign, IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by sotto voce:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Varcon:
Now to find the oil and sweat and dirt to bring my playing up to real artistic standards! Can you believe it? I wash my hands pretty much every time--at least rinse them--before playing or practising. I had no idea I was hampering my progress by doing that. Wow! [/b]
I kind of liked the impersonal image I previously had of Gyro playing his big-time concerto movement at 75% speed. I guess now I have to visualize dirty hands and untrimmed nails, too. Dang. \:\(

Steven [/b]
_________________________
Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon

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#560022 - 10/13/08 05:55 AM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I do believe marshal artists punch their open hands into a bucket of sand to strengthen them. Maybe they don't wash afterwards either?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#560023 - 10/13/08 12:14 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:


[...]

You need to stop this habit of constantly
removing the ends of your fingernails,
because that removes the protection for
your fingertips, which is why you're having
the pain. Also, stop washing
your hands before playing. There's no
need for it, and it just makes playing
more difficult. [/b]
If you don't ever trim your nails, how can you play? Playing with untrimmed/unfiled nails is just as difficult as with exposed quicks.


After years of filing my nails close to facilitate both piano and guitar, my fingertips are tough. I never have this trouble. IMHO, you should file instead of trim; filing allows better control of nail removal so you don't go too far. And take up guitar; nothing toughens you fingertips better. Only if you do fingerstyle guitar, of course! I play classical guitar and electric guitar. Classical is fingerstyle by definition, but I use a thumbpick and fingers to play electric. Along with nail hardener to prevent RH nail wear on the steel strings, nothing does a better job IMHO of making your fingertips immune to soreness.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#560024 - 10/13/08 03:55 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Guendola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/08
Posts: 39
Playing below the keys:

This means that you are reversing your movement too late, as if the keys were lower and as if you wanted to push the keys lower as they can go.

The correct version - playing the keys to the ground - as I learned it has two parts: One is to push the keys down to the lowest position and the other one is to push up the hand with the acting finger (it actually doesn't act before that, it is moved by the hand which is moved by the arm). This is a little bit like pushing away from the side of a swimming pool after a turn.

In other words: Playing the keys to the ground is good timing and playing below the keys is bad timing (and might hurt).

I doubt that washing or not washing your hands makes a difference but I know that dry skin on the fingertips from dehydration especially during the winter can be very sensible.

PS: Martial artists make their finger bones more durable by hitting walls frequently with their fingertips but as others already said, feeble fingertips are not the reason for your pains. There must be another reason that you have to find. Good piano playing does not cause physical pain!

PPS: Playing guitar causes callous on the fingertips of the LEFT hand mainly because the RIGHT hand is playing with the fingernails. And for your pains, it would have the same effect as putting a hard plate on top of the keys - none! The callous from guitar playing is caused by the strings pushing hard into your fingertips, which can be very painful at first. there callous helps because it diverts the pressure to a wider area.

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#560025 - 10/13/08 04:15 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by Guendola:
[...]
Playing guitar causes callous on the fingertips of the LEFT hand mainly because the RIGHT hand is playing with the fingernails. And for your pains, it would have the same effect as putting a hard plate on top of the keys - none! The callous from guitar playing is caused by the strings pushing hard into your fingertips, which can be very painful at first. there callous helps because it diverts the pressure to a wider area. [/b]
Sorry I wasn't clearer, but I meant the electric when I said guitar helps both hands. Because of a much narrower string spacing, you can't use your nails in the same way as on a classical guitar; you inevitably get your RH fingertips into the strings when you play electric with a thumbpick & fingers. This forms callouses that are lighter than those one the LH, but still protect the fingertips.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#560026 - 10/13/08 04:55 PM Re: How can I make my fingers stronger?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Guendola:

Thanks for your explanation tho it still doesn't make sense to me. 'Playing below the keys' simply doesn't follow logic as I see it. I'm open to a rational explanation of what might be occurring. I sort of get your meaning but it isn't what I would call 'playing below the keys.' I think I would simply call what you have explained 'pounding.'

And that, pounding, would simply be harsh tonal quality as a result with little musical value. And I could see that it would lead to arthritis, jammed joints, and wrist damage. Well, for me it will most likely remain a mystery but I do appreciate your attempt to make it clear.

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Chopin's op ph Nocturne 20 C#min, bar 15 triplets
by beechcraft409
03/31/15 02:41 PM
creaking sound from damper pedal mechanism...
by Entheo
03/31/15 02:09 PM
portable speakers used with silent system - something wrong
by casinitaly
03/31/15 01:52 PM
6 month intensive study - what to do?
by anais77
03/31/15 01:29 PM
Unevenness in scales
by CowNorris
03/31/15 01:19 PM
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Trade Regrets: Gary Trafton - Piano Rep
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