My son's hands hurt

Posted by: Tjpp

My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 09:48 AM

So as some of you know, we got an old, but new to us piano this week. My son has been playing with very little interruption the last couple days. We had a digital partial keyboard, which obviously has easy action and the acoustic piano has a harder action. Well last night and this morning his hands hurt. I am sure it is all the intense piano playing (he has been determined to get a few songs which stretch his hands a lot.). But other than taking it easy or less intensive playing, are they any exercises that might help him?

Thanks, it's a good problem but want to stay proactive. Also, when the tuner comes, is the action adjustable? We haven't had an acoustic piano before so it is new to me! Thanks again.
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:01 AM

Does your son have an instructor or is he "self taught"? If the latter your son is on the road to injury as it sounds like he is playing with a lot of tension in his hands. The short-term fix is to take a break. The longer-term fix is to learn proper relaxed technique which will not happen without an instructor.

Pain at the piano is a warning sign that should be taken seriously.
Posted by: Sandra M

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:03 AM

Hello... Your son's hands hurt and I suggest an option for you is to address this in the Teacher's Forum of our Piano World as they will give you professional suggestions. I had hand problems from wearing a large ring and I stressed a tendon as I play piano often. Please get professional advice as I did. Blessings to you and your son. Sandra M
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:22 AM

does the piano has heavy action?
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:30 AM

Most likely, it's simply related to the sudden change to a real action combined with his enthusiasm...it's like going to the gym for the first time. For most people, the adjustment can take a couple of weeks. Slow him down a bit so that his hands can adjust gradually.

There are lots of piano exercises. Since this piano is new to him, you can safely start with scales. Look for Hanon (or Junior Hanon, depending on his level) are hugely popular.
Posted by: Tjpp

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:31 AM

He does have an instructor, we go next Monday. Since we got the piano, he has been self teaching and has never played so much or with so much intensity. I wouldn't say the action is hard, but I am not a professional and I just think he was used to the digital super easy action.
Posted by: Tjpp

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:37 AM

Thanks Sam, I will look those up! I told him this morning that he needed to slow down a little and let his hands get used to the piano. (It is so awesome to see him determined and getting it, especially with school being harder with his hearing issues, so I just want to make sure we are doing it the right way!)
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:42 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL
Look for Hanon.


I'm going to disagree here. Hanon has a reputation for being somewhat likely to be injurious if not approached very carefully with an instructor. For a player who is already hurting his hands (again, almost certainly because he's tensing up) Hanon will only aggravate the condition.

The counterintuitive thing OPs son needs to learn is that speed and power come from good technique, which comes from relaxing. That was very counterintuitive to me which is why I am saying a good teacher is needed here.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:56 AM

Stretching the hand wide to reach notes makes a lot of muscle tension. He has to practice rolling the hand to make the reach and start slowly and stay relaxed. If he tries too hard to hit the right note without trusting in the "Force" (paraphrase Star Wars)-he is setting himself up for tendonitis. Alicia De Larrocha (famous concert pianist), could barely reach an octave. I watched her practice the Lizst Sonata and she could roll wide intervals so fast as to be aurally imperceptible. A good teacher and your help keeping him practicing properly at home will probably fix the problem. He should just "Play" at the piano not "Perform" when he practices.
Posted by: Tjpp

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 11:57 AM

Hey guys, thanks for the thoughts...I emailed his teacher and asked if we could hire him a few extra times to come to our house and teach him the proper posture and hand holding specific to this piano. We go to his studio usually but thought if I got him to come a few times here, it would be good to correct him in action! And we have the tuner coming Tuesday.

The "force" comment make me chuckle, having 2 boys of that age, there is a lot of conversation about the "force." smile
Posted by: Rocket Man

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 04:09 PM

How old is your son?
Posted by: JeanieA

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 04:19 PM

Seconding the caution about Hanon. I was assigned a couple of exercises to be performed as a warm-up and played one after the other. After two weeks of this, I developed pain in my left hand/wrist; when reaching for something it felt like a pop followed by an 'electric shock' kind of sensation. Doctor said tendonitis; I dropped the Hanon completely and the pain receded slowly, took about 10 days. Nothing else changed, it had to be Hanon! So, we're doing Czerny instead. smile
Posted by: Tjpp

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 05:03 PM

He is 8.5
Posted by: jawhitti

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 05:10 PM

As far as your question about "is the action adjustable" - see about having the piano VOICED and REGULATED and not just tuned. Making sure the action is properly lubed and consistent, and the hammers are properly hitting the strings and the felts are in good shape will make the action feel lighter even though it really won't change. This will probably cost a few hundred bucks.

The "weight" of action can't really be changed much without spending a lot of money and frankly the idea is a nonstarter. If you're lucky maybe Del will drop in and wax operatic on the topic but the cost of doing anything significant could easily exceed the cost of your piano. Just day or two of TLC from a good tech will get it as good as it can be.
Posted by: Eric Gloo

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 05:58 PM

Also make sure he is sitting at the proper height. In many homes where I tune, the bench, stool, chair, or whatever they use at the piano is much lower than it should be.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 06:01 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL

There are lots of piano exercises. Since this piano is new to him, you can safely start with scales. Look for Hanon (or Junior Hanon, depending on his level) are hugely popular.


Scales are fine, but like other posters, I'd approach Hanon with caution.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 06:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Tjpp
My son has been playing with very little interruption the last couple days.


This is how music majors and professionals injure themselves. Four hours of practice time each day is more than sufficient for 98% of people who play the piano. Any more than that and there will be a diminishing rate of return, and it will make hand injury much more likely, especially if the pianist is not used to practicing that much!


Originally Posted By: Tjpp
But other than taking it easy or less intensive playing, are they any exercises that might help him?


No. Rest is needed. Exercises may inflame the problem.

Originally Posted By: Tjpp
Thanks, it's a good problem but want to stay proactive.


How is this a good problem? Your son's hands hurt. This is a serious problem if not monitored and taken seriously. Several of my friends developed tendinitis from piano playing or typing... one couldn't play the piano for a month and another may never be able to play again.


Originally Posted By: Tjpp
Also, when the tuner comes, is the action adjustable?


Yes and no. Regulation and excess friction can reduce or eliminate a heavy touch (expect to pay extra for this), but only if those issues are present to begin with. Otherwise, the action must be modified and that is expensive.
Posted by: Tjpp

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 07:51 PM

Ok, thanks, I only said good problem because he wants to play so much (vs me nagging him to get his 10-15 min. practice in:). I totally agree I don't want him to hurt or have an injury.
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 07:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Tjpp
Ok, thanks, I only said good problem because he wants to play so much (vs me nagging him to get his 10-15 min. practice in:). I totally agree I don't want him to hurt or have an injury.


I knew what you meant. It's great that he's enthusiastic, but, please don't take this lightly! If his hands hurt, don't let him play until they're better. Good luck!
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/01/13 10:22 PM

I understand the Hanon cautions. FWIW, Junior Hanon does some to address this by selecting just some of the 60 exercises better suited for smaller hands, spacing the hands better to reduce wrist strain and reducing the tempo and length of some exercises.
Posted by: rxd

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/02/13 06:53 AM

While I am only a compete
T piano player, I have professional e peroence on other instruments and realise the importance of warming up and, just as important, warming down after a practice session. Particularly where delicate musculature is involved.
Perhaps someone from the teachers forum might enlarge on this how it concerns the piano.

While some may regard your sons dedication as self indulgent, I see it as the only real self discipline - disciplin from within the self. Hard to drag him away. Perhaps a distraction with books about the piano or recordings or videos of the greats. Perhaps particularly those with small hands.

The concept of the force is helpful because, done properly, improvement starts to happen as if by itself.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/02/13 07:02 AM

Your son is young. He was playing an 'easy to play' keyboard.

His fingers, hands, and their muscles have to adjust to the acoustic.

No, you do not need to have the teacher go to your house - what he will say for hands and and body position will fit all pianos. Bench height, posture, hand position.

It sounds like son has mostly overdone with his enthusiasm to play.

I am sure it will all work out with his teacher's guidance.

I, too, say it is time for him to do less until he has had a lesson. He might be doing himself more harm until then.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/02/13 09:38 AM

You don't quite say how long he's playing in one sitting. But perhaps limit him to one hour at a time. Of course, don't let him start playing again until the pain is gone, and if the pain starts up again, he is to stop immediately. Make sure he understands that pain while playing piano is a bad thing and he needs to listen to his body.

I agree the teacher doesn't need to come to your home. They can give proper guidance during the regular lessons to help.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: My son's hands hurt - 02/02/13 10:24 AM

Well - Keep in mind that this is a little boy with a new piano. The excitement and enthusiasm got the best of him. Nothing new there. How about the kid with the new tricycle who experiences sore legs?

Yes, caution is in order, but it is not at all different than any other kid discovering the world. Panic is a bit over the top. This will settle down in a few days.