Does practicing the piano change the hand structure?

Posted by: JanVan

Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/15/13 12:17 PM

And, if it does, in what way?

Has there been done any significant research on this?

I don't know if it's just my imagination but I have the impression that my fingers have become thinner, more bony, after I started to practice the piano again after a break of several decades.

I have been practicing now for about 2 hours a day since October of last year.
Posted by: rada

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/15/13 12:50 PM

Well there's no doubt it has stretched my hands over the years. I cannot wear a bangle[ you know the hoop-type bracelets?]because they get stick midway down my hand. It's ok because I don't like jewelry moving all around when I am playing anyhow.

rada
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/15/13 02:58 PM

Pianists give better back rubs! smile
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/15/13 05:46 PM

I haven't noticed any change in underlying bony structure. The only obvious differences are bigger muscles, greater stretch, more tactile sensitivity, more agility and bigger veins...and I do give great backrubs.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 02:18 AM

I guess the only sure way to find an answer to this question is to practice the piano for fifty years with one hand only and then compare it to the other at the end of that time. Otherwise, it might be hard to determine what has caused any changes, if, indeed, there are any changes to be noted.

On the other hand - as it were! - before/after photographs might accomplish the same purpose, and would allow you to continue practicing with both hands.

Regards,
Posted by: Roland The Beagle

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 02:59 AM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
I guess the only sure way to find an answer to this question is to practice the piano for fifty years with one hand only and then compare it to the other at the end of that time. Otherwise, it might be hard to determine what has caused any changes, if, indeed, there are any changes to be noted.


Control hand and experimental hand. Good idea. Time for some Godowsky?

Also, if your muscles and tendons can be affected (and I think it's certain they can), then bones can shift around a bit because they are carried by these ligaments.

But in any case, the structure of the hand can change very much. I know because I was a big time video game addict and it dramatically altered the shape of my hand which now has advantages and disadvantages in piano. After 1-2 years of piano, my hand is changing shape yet again to be better suited to the instrument.
Posted by: TheHappyMoron

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 06:19 AM

Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
Pianists give better back rubs! smile


if only we could give ourselves back rubs... frown
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 12:00 PM

Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
Pianists give better back rubs! smile


if only we could give ourselves back rubs... frown


"Ay, there's the rub." (Hamlet, III, i)
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 01:27 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
Pianists give better back rubs! smile


if only we could give ourselves back rubs... frown


"Ay, there's the rub." (Hamlet, III, i)
Groan.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 01:27 PM

LOL
Posted by: TheHappyMoron

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 07:03 PM

grin that made me laugh, the poor ones are the best ones!!
Posted by: wr

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 10:17 PM

Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Originally Posted By: RealPlayer
Pianists give better back rubs! smile


if only we could give ourselves back rubs... frown


We can...sort of.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/16/13 11:07 PM

My hand span has definitely increased.
Posted by: TimV

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/17/13 07:16 AM

When I started playing piano as a child, my fingers were badly double-jointed. My whole family is, in fact. As I got older, and also as I got more involved in playing and working on my technique, my double-jointedness is essentially gone. My thumbs can still do weird things, but my fingers never "collapse" anymore.

I know, I know... correlation <> causation. But the rest of my sibs still have weird spider hands, and I don't.
Posted by: the nosy ape

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/17/13 08:52 AM

My fingers are also double-jointed and this certainly created problems when playing the piano (actually, more so with the violin), but now I have no issues. However, I do not think there have been any structural changes in my fingers. They can bend back just as far as ever. I would say that as my technique and strength developed I became better able to control the bend in my joints.
Posted by: anadyr21

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/20/13 01:33 AM

I haven't noticed any structural changes in my hands. However, I've had a number of people mention how defined the muscles of my forearm are. Not large, just very defined, as these muscles would affect wrist movement. I know some of it is related to the fact that I'm also very lean and thin, which makes it much easier to see overall muscle definition.
Posted by: geraldbrennan

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/20/13 08:39 AM

The only bad change I have experienced was after practicing many hours of Godowsky-Chopin pieces, after which I noted that my thumb and little finger of my left hand had switched places. It was really more inconvenient than painful, and the only way I could switch them back to their right places was to struggle through Prelude in C from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier, which was quite difficult considering my indisposition. After a few clumsy go's they popped back in to place and remain there today. So no more Godowsky for me.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/20/13 11:24 AM

"...Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure?..."

If we're to believe Bones re-runs, our every activity leaves its signature upon the skeleton and its points of muscle attachment. Certainly, we know that activity which loads the bones influences them to become denser and more mineralized. Sherlock Holmes (a fictional character, but who was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a real doctor) instructed Watson that spatulate fingertips are a signature of touch-typists and pianists. He modified this by observing that the spiritual appearance of the face of the client who had just consulted him indicated a musician--- a music teacher. That may be fine for the purposes of a short story, but I wouldn't count on it too much in real life. Holmes didn't rely on it too much himself--- he asked the client.

My own fingertips are not especially spatulate, and I both play the piano and type. As to what my skeleton might reveal to a forensic anthropologist, the jury is still out.

"...I have the impression that my fingers have become thinner, more bony, after I started to practice the piano again..."

This happens to everyone who gets older, JanVan, except, maybe, people who have very fat hands. I agree with the person who observed that the muscles which control the arms, hands, and posture become firmer, though not bulky.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/20/13 11:49 AM

Well, it's well known that your dominant side is stronger and slightly larger, and the bits that regenerate grow slightly faster (compare your feet sizes and the growth of your nails and compare the relative strengths of your arms and legs), so undoubtedly our activities cause changes in our musculature and skeletal structure. But I challenge even Sherlock (or Hercule) to deduce that someone is a pianist from their hands..... wink

Anthropologists can often deduce the occupations of our ancestors (whether they were manual laborers or belonged to the idle nobility), how hard their lives were etc, from their skeletons.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/20/13 01:15 PM

Didn't mean to shortchange Hercule! Or Miss Marple. Now there's one who could tell you a thing or two.
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/20/13 01:46 PM

Originally Posted By: anadyr21
I haven't noticed any structural changes in my hands. However, I've had a number of people mention how defined the muscles of my forearm are. Not large, just very defined, as these muscles would affect wrist movement. I know some of it is related to the fact that I'm also very lean and thin, which makes it much easier to see overall muscle definition.

Ditto.
Except the muscle along the 5th-finger edge of my palm grew. Also maybe the muscle between thumb and 2nd finger.

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"...I have the impression that my fingers have become thinner, more bony, after I started to practice the piano again..."

This happens to everyone who gets older, JanVan, except, maybe, people who have very fat hands.
...

Are you sure? The opposite has happened to me.
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Does practicing the piano changes the hand structure? - 10/20/13 02:45 PM

Since I am a piano technician/rebuilder and an amateur pianist-my fingers have gotten thicker and my grip stays strong for my age-because of using tools both powered and not. Also I have calluses thick enough to be able to take hot potatoes from the oven without gloves.

When my hands tire from holding tools, a piano playing break relieves the tightness.
Posted by: Auntie Lynn

Re: Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/20/13 03:30 PM

Yuppers, your hands will get more muscular and articulate - if you're doing it right...
Posted by: cefinow

Re: Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/20/13 05:16 PM

Originally Posted By: geraldbrennan
The only bad change I have experienced was after practicing many hours of Godowsky-Chopin pieces, after which I noted that my thumb and little finger of my left hand had switched places. ... So no more Godowsky for me.


That's scary. Was it something too advanced? I know students can actually do damage to their hands/arms by taking on things that are beyond their technique. My "wake-up call" was when I started to grow a 6th finger on the side of each hand when practicing a Chopin etude overly zealously. When I started acting on the teacher's advice (instead of just saying, "yeah, uh-huh, right" and then forgetting about it during the week) the extra digits began to be resorbed back into the hand. Proper technique is *so* important. Well, I am so glad to hear I am not the only one who has suffered something like that.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Does practicing the piano change the hand structure? - 10/20/13 05:45 PM

Originally Posted By: cefinow
Originally Posted By: geraldbrennan
The only bad change I have experienced was after practicing many hours of Godowsky-Chopin pieces, after which I noted that my thumb and little finger of my left hand had switched places. ... So no more Godowsky for me.


That's scary. Was it something too advanced? I know students can actually do damage to their hands/arms by taking on things that are beyond their technique. My "wake-up call" was when I started to grow a 6th finger on the side of each hand when practicing a Chopin etude overly zealously. When I started acting on the teacher's advice (instead of just saying, "yeah, uh-huh, right" and then forgetting about it during the week) the extra digits began to be resorbed back into the hand. Proper technique is *so* important. Well, I am so glad to hear I am not the only one who has suffered something like that.

The Chopin √©tudes have been known for their unique effects on the fingers from the earliest days: the contemporary critic Ludwig Rellstab (renowned for giving a certain Beethoven piano sonata the nickname by which it's now universally known) wrote: "Those who have twisted fingers may cure them by practising these √Čtudes; but those who have not should not play them, not unless they have a surgeon handy."