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#1995857 - 12/07/12 09:07 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Feminicricket]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3006
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Feminicricket
They don`t realize the importance of curved fingers and habits that go with it.


And why is that, do you suppose?

Wouldn't you think it would be obvious?

But apparently it is not. Hmmm. Doesn't that need some thought?

It would seem they can play everything at their level fine with long fingernails. They probably suspect deep down that a scholarship to a conservatory and a career as a concert pianist WOULD require cutting them. Then again, the chances of that happening to them are less than getting hit by a meteorite.

It might also be that not everybody agrees on how curved is curved enough, or if the anatomical advantages can be conveyed some other way.

I can't stand long fingernails myself, I keep mine very short. I'm sure I could play without problems if they were half an inch longer. Longer than that I'd probably have to practice.
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#1995896 - 12/07/12 10:45 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4668
Loc: Italy
As an adult student who had really long nails for well over 35 years, I can tell you from experience that a student won't cut their nails unless they are in love with playing the piano AND understand that long nails are an issue. Both points have to be realized.

I had long nails when I was 24 and bought my guitar......guess what? When I realized that even though Dolly Parton could do it, I couldn't, I basically played guitar when one of my nails broke and I cut the others so my hand would be "balanced"! I was not in love with the guitar.

When I started piano, even though my teacher convinced me it was important it still took me several months, yes months, of gradually trimming and getting used to short nails before I really started keeping them short. I hate short nails, I really do (on me, I mean, I don't think about other people's nails) -- but I love piano more.
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#1995938 - 12/07/12 12:13 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: casinitaly]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3006
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: casinitaly
I hate short nails, I really do (on me, I mean, I don't think about other people's nails) -- but I love piano more.


Exactly. You made the change after you'd become convinced it was the correct decision, or at least the lesser of two evils.

Students aren't convinced, I think partly because most of them aren't sufficiently serious about attaining a high level of performance, and partly because their teacher hasn't earned a high enough degree of credibility that their advice is accepted without question.

That means a student has room to debate it, and maybe the answers aren't convincing. Maybe because short nails and curved fingers are so much part of the teacher's worldview that he/she has never thought about why.

I think I could go on youtube and find many examples of high level pianists with short nails. And if we looked really closely, some of them would be fine with much longer nails than they have. I just used a ruler and measured the distance from my middle finger nail to the surface of my desk in playing position. I could add 1/4 inch to that finger, and obviously more to all the other fingers (because they curve less in normal playing).

Now if you explained to me the tendon attachment anatomy and the exact degree of curvature necessary for joint stability, I'd have bought it. But even as a student I was an engineer.
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#1995946 - 12/07/12 12:27 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3006
Loc: Virginia, USA
Whoops.
I have to take it all back.
Just looked at this picture:
http://bountifulpianolessons.blogspot.com/2010/07/to-curve-or-not-to-curve-that-is.html
and realized my hand position is wrong, wrong, wrong. I've been playing with the pads not knowing I should be using only the tip of the finger. Obviously short nails are more important than I realized!
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#1995973 - 12/07/12 01:25 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
You're not related to a guy called keyboard klutz, are you?
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#1995984 - 12/07/12 01:48 PM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3006
Loc: Virginia, USA
Hee, hee. Hope not.

Whether you need to cut your nails probably depends a bit on whether your image of curved is dribbling a basketball or gripping a golf ball.

But that's just mechanics.

The psychology of influencing a child is a different matter. They tend to ask why, and are sometimes skeptical of the answer. Especially if there is no immediate payoff, like something being easier to play now rather than in 10 years.
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#1996293 - 12/08/12 07:55 AM Re: When students have long nails and refuse to cut them [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
The more I read about piano pedagogy, the more I see that it has changed and shifted significantly over the past few decades. I'm saying this... and I'm only 21 and half way through my music degree.

I've talked to my teacher about my teaching issues and I've noticed that he's the traditional type of teacher, with a more fundamentalist approach, the type that only takes on 'serious' students - he won't teach Jazz, or improvisation or more contemporary popular genres... but he will teach classical - including 20th and 21st century music, he will teach harmony, aural and he also is available to accompany and teach me how to teach. He believes that technique is the foundation, without it we pave the way to injury, we also pave the way to bad or limited musicality.

I've always regarded his way as right or perhaps the more correct approach. The more I read and the more I interact with other teachers, I can see that his way fits me but it's not necessarily the right way. Teachers who belong to the latter group (the ones who would teach popular music, improvisation and more 'fun' stuff) are the type who are probably open to less 'serious' students and who are ok with the long nails thing.

It makes me wonder where I stand on the issue. I know that all students are not like me. As a student, I was pretty serious, and still am ... but I have my reasons - I am a music major. I'm not as serious as a piano major as piano performance is not my major but I guess I took lessons as a child and the younger you are, the more superior the teacher is - the teacher is always right in that instance. I suppose with teenagers and adults you leave it to their prerogative - or if you have a big issue with it you drop them. In addition to this, I work in another industry (in the Food industry) and as junior chef there is no option, you either cut your nails or you don't work in the kitchen. It was that simple. Maybe I'm hoping that my teenage student would see it in that light. Or maybe it is that simple - I've done what I can to convince her to cut her nails. She realises that it is physically possible to play with long nails but it is not ideal and in the end, I can either tolerate it or drop her.
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