Arms tightening up, need suggestions

Posted by: BarbVA

Arms tightening up, need suggestions - 01/23/09 04:16 PM

Since I've begun learning to play the piano just about 3.5 weeks ago, I've had a problem develop that I'm hoping you all can help me with.

I usually practice at least an hour a day, but did not practice at all yesterday because of this. My shoulders and forearms are aching. The muscles in my forearms are so tight they are making my hands and fingers prickly and slightly numb.

Last night I discoved that maybe it was partially the piano bench, which is really too high for me. I had to put a telephone book under my feet or else they just dangled, and I could not reach the pedals, which also put my arms and hands significanlty higher than the piano keys.

So I switched the piano bench out for my daughters keybord seat, which I was able to adjust to where my feet were on the ground, I could rech the petals and my hands and arms seemed to be at a more appropriate level. But I'm still in pain with tingling fingers, so I'm probably not going to practice much today again.

I've also worked a lot of extra hours at the computer in the last week (when it started), so I'm not sure if its the piano, the computer or a combination of the two. Any advice?
Posted by: keyboardklutz

Re: Arms tightening up, need suggestions - 01/23/09 04:28 PM

Try sitting at this height with arms/wrists horizontal. The picture is of Matthay, England's most famous teacher.
Posted by: Betty Patnude

Re: Arms tightening up, need suggestions - 01/23/09 06:14 PM

So you are at the computer keyboard for hours as well as now introducing the piano keyboard to your brain and body.

At 3.5 lessons, you do not require an hour or more at one time of practice. You need to build up some stamina to sit there on the bench without a back to the chair. Many people have tried an office chair with no arms that can be raised or lowered to the proper height for you. You'll want to make sure the chair does not go spinning off without you because of it's wheels. Try to engage them in some way to avoid that.

Break your practice down to 20 minutes and then come back after a break to do more. Eventually you will rise to extended times at the piano, but today and the first few months are not the time to sit there for hours.

Your body is telling you so! Heed!

Perhaps if you wear glasses or bifocals you are having a time of your head looking at the music and then down to the keyboard - a very unnecessary and annoying and impeding trait. You can be instructed how to play without checking out the keyboard by your teacher who can hold a white blank piece of paper above your hands - flat - so that you can't see the keyboard. Playing music in the same beginning positions will help you get used to this before moving outside of a keyboard area you are learning first. Having a limited area of the keyboard helps you accomodate yourself to the sequence of notes, and to the choreography of reaching fingers up and back toward the black notes as needed. The topography of the keyboard needs to be learned so that you can play and move about the different registers easily.

You will need to work out the reasons why your muscles are hurting, too much tension, unnecessary weight, uptight person at the piano, I think. Anxiety has never been a helpful tool to a pianist, so work on being cool, calm, and comfortable at your bench. Deep breathing is another quietude that aids and unhurried mannerisms.

Golly, I wish I could give you these thoughts in person and supervise your way to finding your comfort zone. And, darn, if my calendar is free for tonight! (Chuckle!)

Look for answers - ask your teacher for advice.

Good luck to you in resolving this problem, you won't be able to play well while having it, and you hold the answers within yourself to fix it.

Notice and adjust. And when in pain, don't.

This is not the end of the possibilities of the causes, but do start thinking about what you are doing and not doing that is contributing to it.

Also, the difficulty of your selected music could be the culprit.

Betty