Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers

Posted by: newbert

Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 01/31/13 08:38 PM

Before getting too far along in getting re-acquainted with the piano, I want to break any bad habits when it comes to sitting position, hand position, etc.

I've read and seen on a few videos that the correct hand placement on the keyboard is to have your hands "forward" near where the black keys meet the white keys. This places some fingers between the black keys when playing a white key. Having somewhat fat fingers, the black key adjacent to the white key that I'm playing often "goes along for the ride". In other words, in this hand position, I find it difficult to play the white keys cleanly. (I hope I'm explaining that clearly....)

Because of this problem, I find myself placing my hands more towards the base of the white keys (away from between the black keys), causing me to have to "reach" for the black keys.

Are there any exercises to work on placing the hands properly?

Thanks!
Posted by: neildradford

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 01/31/13 09:17 PM

I sometimes wonder if we worry too much about what is 'proper' when it comes to certain things with piano, such as hand position, sitting position etc.

Maybe we should just do what is comfortable, as long as the note is played cleanly, with the correct dynamic and the correct timing, I'm not so convinced we should think too much beyond that. I'm of the opinion that the human body has a remarkable way of telling you if you are doing something detrimental to yourself.

I'm sure some experts will now come and prove why I'm wrong I my opinion.

Neil.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 01/31/13 11:06 PM

Originally Posted By: newbert
Before getting too far along in getting re-acquainted with the piano, I want to break any bad habits when it comes to sitting position, hand position, etc.


I'm not sure of resources on real basic fundamentals like these (others may assist, though it's difficult while not there to show you in person), though a google search will likely provide photos/videos of such questions.

I'll simply recommend these two resources for similar topics (browse through their video titles to look for relevant/interesting things)

http://www.youtube.com/user/PianistMagazine
http://www.youtube.com/user/LivingPianosVideos
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianoologist?feature=watch
http://www.youtube.com/user/joshwrightpiano?feature=watch
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 01/31/13 11:40 PM

I can fit my fingers between the black keys, but ergonomically it is better to strike the key closer to the end. Besides, that would really be in the way of moving the hands sideways.

People play with all kinds of hand sizes and shapes--- the hands of some of music's greats might surprise you. There are some posture rules or guidelines which protect the back and the wrist, and some skills of fingering (like scales and arps; developing a sensitive touch with hands that are confident, and know on their own where they are). Any music store will have a bunch of technic books, and one would hope that your teacher would save you from any grave errors.

In the end, you have what you have, and have to adapt how you play according to what you have to play with. That is one reason that when music gives the fingerings, we have to remember that they are really "suggested fingerings," and to feel free to take a pencil to them if we find something which works better for our own hand.

If those videos are only making you anxious, don't watch them any more.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 02/01/13 03:45 AM

Originally Posted By: newbert
Having somewhat fat fingers, the black key adjacent to the white key that I'm playing often "goes along for the ride". In other words, in this hand position, I find it difficult to play the white keys cleanly. (I hope I'm explaining that clearly....)

Because of this problem, I find myself placing my hands more towards the base of the white keys (away from between the black keys), causing me to have to "reach" for the black keys.


I have fat fingers, too. Where possible, aim to be near but not between the blacks. Do what works more comfortably for you, not what someone else thinks is best. In really bad cases, just re-write the arrangement. For instance, C7 is a bear with fat fingers, but C7/E is easy.
Posted by: AshwayGap

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 02/01/13 05:45 AM

I think the main thing is to be comfortable with whatever suites your fingers - and your seating position. There is of course a general consensus that your fingers should be slightly bent (somewhat like a claw) so that they are in line with each other but there are many remarkable different ways in which to play. I suggest you go on YouTube and look at the many varied positions, hand and seating, that concert pianists and many others use. And don't despair because you are happier with positions that instruction books don't generally agree with.

For instance, Vladimir Horowitz often used a long, flat finger technique and at times sat away from the piano. Whereas Daniel Barenboim sits almost on top of the piano in a high, (almost standing at times) position. There are of course many variations that are used but if YOU are not comfortable with your positions I don't think you'll ever be really happy playing. Having said all that you still should try to achieve the most efficient positions.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 02/01/13 08:48 AM

Originally Posted By: newbert
Before getting too far along in getting re-acquainted with the piano, I want to break any bad habits when it comes to sitting position, hand position, etc.

Having somewhat fat fingers, the black key adjacent to the white key that I'm playing often "goes along for the ride". In other words, in this hand position, I find it difficult to play the white keys cleanly. (I hope I'm explaining that clearly....)

First, let me commend you on working to "get it right" before you get too far into your training. smile

As for the fingers, I've seen all kinds of hands, including the hands of Andre the Giant (though I was 9 at the time). At the keys, I've seen long fingers, skinny fingers, and yes, fat fingers. But you've got to have gorilla-sized hands to have a problem between the black keys.

Couple sausage-hands:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSNPpssruFY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNNiBcU3BR4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzUJvpOhCAA

I have family members with hands bigger than all three of them who can still fit between the keys. (Sadly, my own hands are smaller.)

I say all this because you say you "sometimes" have trouble. Meaning, other times you do not. Meaning, of course, that your fingers do fit between the black keys. This indicates to me an issue with technique, and by staying outside the black key area, you probably are creating an additional issue(s), rather than fixing the one that causes you to miss notes inside.

If you can post a video of you playing, I'd be happy to take this to a diagnostic level. PM me if you want. smile
Posted by: PaperClip

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 02/01/13 10:47 AM

I play the white keys more to the base. When playing a black key, my hand goes a little bit forward and upward. Hanging my finger above the black key before dropping onto the key.The movement of the tip of the finger towards the black key describes a circle while the tip of the finger on the white key is the center of that circle. Personally I like the feeling of that movement and the sound of the black key is more clear. Although it's not the technique seen on those video's where the fingers for the white keys are played more forward.
Posted by: UK Paul UK

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 02/01/13 12:20 PM

There is no way my top knuckles will fit between two black keys.... well fi gers 2 and 3 anyway..... so i adapt, no flat finger playing when these notes need to be struck.... i come down with the fingers curled and slightly angle the knuckles to slip between.... just find what works... and slowly itll become natural in your method.. :-)
Posted by: peterws

Re: Overcoming Bad Habits: Fat Fingers - 02/02/13 06:23 PM

Maybe the honourable Japanese have skinnier fingers than the honourable rest o` the world . . .