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FAT FINGERS #1166016
03/20/09 04:51 PM
03/20/09 04:51 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 157
C
Carldee Offline OP
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Carldee  Offline OP
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Although I`m slim my fingers are quite fat, although my hand spans 10 white notes with ease, like Beethoven`s (fact).

I have problems with my middle fingers that quite often foul the black keys between F and B (Fa, Si), but not between C and E (Do, Mi), even when I strike them vertically.

Has anybody had this problem and is there a solution to it, besides slimming more or redesigning the keyboard?.

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Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1166024
03/20/09 05:03 PM
03/20/09 05:03 PM
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Posts: 127
CA, USA
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veem Offline
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Maybe use different fingering or just play towards the outside of the keyboard instead of inside and between black keys whenever you must use your middle finger?

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: veem] #1166119
03/20/09 08:45 PM
03/20/09 08:45 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 65
Washington
EmilyChopin Offline
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Huh! I think different fingering is in order like eggsdee said. Did you know that Bach also had fat fingers? Play Bach pieces.


Just because my instrument is the size of a table does not mean you may lean on it!
Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: EmilyChopin] #1166218
03/21/09 02:31 AM
03/21/09 02:31 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 157
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Carldee Offline OP
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Thanks Eggsdeee and Emily Chopin????, Wow!!!, So there is a solution to my predicament. I will follow your advice to the letter. I`m already studying Bach`s Small Preludes and Fughettes, Inventions and Symphonies in preparation for my dream, to be able to play th 48!!.

I didn`t know J S Bach had fat fingers, well aren`t I happy I have also something in common with him!!, pity it is only the fat fingers and not his composition skills..... but looking at his paintings he was quite big.

An English traveller who saw him playing the organ and conducting the orchestra and choir at the same time wrote that it was an spectacle to see him moving so briskely, moving his legs to play the foot pedals his arms wawering to the orchestra and playing the keyboard.

I suppose you know you can see a photograph of your dearest Chopin in Wikipidia, Google search. I have the same in a book. It is a real photo as the camera had already been invented in 1839.

And as Emily plays the violin, could I please hear you playing one of J S Bach`s Partitas for solo violin, please??.......but only on internet, of course................

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1166242
03/21/09 05:29 AM
03/21/09 05:29 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 607
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Wood-demon Offline
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I have quite "Fat fingers" (and as I get older the rest of me is following suit!) but I have never had the sort of problems you mention due to the fact. Suggestions like "change the fingering" or "play Bach" just aren't practical. I suggest you consult a good teacher to find out what you're doing wrong. My guess is that your problem is flat fingers rather than fat ones.

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1166421
03/21/09 02:20 PM
03/21/09 02:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 65
Washington
EmilyChopin Offline
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Carldee:
Actually, I have that picture of Chopin on a tee shirt.

Yes, short fat hands and fingers were considered the ideal "piano hand" up until romantics got ahold of music. The trick is that they are small enough to play delicate pieces. I have large thin hands that tend to tangle up when I play Bach, so I envy you. : )

As for the violin, I wish I could play it for you, but alas fictional Internet lives only go so far.


Just because my instrument is the size of a table does not mean you may lean on it!
Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Wood-demon] #1166422
03/21/09 02:24 PM
03/21/09 02:24 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 157
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Carldee Offline OP
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Thanks Wood-Demon, "Flat fingers"?, never heard of those but it sounds awful, like if a car rolled over them!!.

What happens to me is that even pressing on a white key between two blacks (from F to B, only) very slowly I can feel the pressure of the black keys at the bottom of my fingers (as the black keys are tapered)and I press them down (the black keys) very slightly because of my wide middle fingers but not enough to make a sound, however quite often when playing I do make them sound, enough to spoil a badly played piece even more.

Short of placing my middle fingers in a vice to reduce them I can`t see any other solution...........

-------------------------------------------------------
Currently, and for the PAST 50 YEARS working on Czerny`s "School of Velocity", "Ecole de la Velocite", "Schule der Gelaufigkeit". "La Escuela de la Velocidad", (I tried all versions), and still not being able to get exercise one at the right speed.


Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1166692
03/22/09 03:57 AM
03/22/09 03:57 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 54
Bay Area, CA
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JBB_Piano Offline
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Hoffman had small hands and a special, smaller Steinway piano keyboard (with narrower keys) made for him for this purpose. I haven't heard of a larger keyboard being made, and it might not work out for you since even with "fat" fingers, it doesn't necessarily mean you can handle larger stretches.

I have read that Rudolf Serkin had a problem with fat fingers and had to practice a bit harder to hit certain notes precisely, right in the middle of the key. I have somewhat broad fingers myself and I am more comfortable with open hand positions than tight passagework that is found mostly in Mozart and Haydn. There is usually a different fingering that can be worked out in scale passagework for those of us with thicker fingers. And, of course, there will always be some pieces you just can't really play well (for example, Jeux d'eau by Ravel is one that those of us with wider fingers have a really hard time with). On the other hand, I have met many (mostly female) pianists with smaller hands who breeze by the tight passagework in Mozart but are genuinely despondent that despite many, many years of advanced training and practice, simply cannot play pieces they love like the Carnaval, Symphonic Etudes, Liszt Sonata, etc. If it turns out that you really love Mozart, it will be easier for you, with practice, creative fingerings, and moving your hand and wrist fluently to tackle the uncomfortable places whereas some other pianists will really never be able to play the final movement in the Carnaval without leaving out many important notes.

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1166699
03/22/09 04:53 AM
03/22/09 04:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 607
UK
Wood-demon Offline
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Originally Posted by Carldee
Thanks Wood-Demon, "Flat fingers"?, never heard of those but it sounds awful, like if a car rolled over them!!.

What happens to me is that even pressing on a white key between two blacks (from F to B, only) very slowly I can feel the pressure of the black keys at the bottom of my fingers (as the black keys are tapered)and I press them down (the black keys) very slightly because of my wide middle fingers but not enough to make a sound, however quite often when playing I do make them sound, enough to spoil a badly played piece even more.

Short of placing my middle fingers in a vice to reduce them I can`t see any other solution...........

-------------------------------------------------------
Currently, and for the PAST 50 YEARS working on Czerny`s "School of Velocity", "Ecole de la Velocite", "Schule der Gelaufigkeit". "La Escuela de la Velocidad", (I tried all versions), and still not being able to get exercise one at the right speed.



If I play with my fingers outstretched so that the whole of the pad on each is in contact with the note (flat fingers!) I get stuck between the black keys too. You probably need to play with the the tips of the pads (strength in the top joints of fingers needs to be developed) ...this will also have the effect of drawing the fingers back slightly so that you are playing at the edge of the black keys rather than right in between them. This diagnosis is based only on guesswork, of course, and you really ought to consult a qualified teacher about the problem who should be able to give you a more precise analysis than you would get on any forum. There is also the danger that advice given here is misunderstood and recommendations taken to extremes.

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Wood-demon] #1166710
03/22/09 06:12 AM
03/22/09 06:12 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 924
Seattle, WA
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MarkH Offline
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Seattle, WA
As long as you can effectively play big chords with your fingers in between the black keys (for example, an F#-A-D-F# chord), you should be fine in the long run. I don't consider my fingers to be fat per se, but if I'm playing very quick runs and I go deep past the edge of the black keys when playing on the whites, my fingers can get stuck any time the attack is anything but absolutely vertical. But it's almost a non-issue, because for any fast passagework I just move out to the black-white border. Supposedly Rachmaninoff had broad fingers in addition to a massive hand span, and in delicate passagework he had to turn his fingers just slightly to the side to fit between the black keys. I don't know the authenticity of this story, or why he didn't just play at the black/white border - it just came from a teacher I once had. I think you needn't worry, as long as you aren't playing flat-fingered as Wood-demon pointed out.

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: MarkH] #1167144
03/23/09 06:15 AM
03/23/09 06:15 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 157
C
Carldee Offline OP
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Carldee  Offline OP
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 157
Thanks everybody for the useful replies. It is very encouriging to know that great pianists had also physical troubles with their fingers. It is a matter of wanting to overcome them that matters and work at it.I thought that due to that difficulty I wouldn`t be able to improve more.

At this point in my progress I think I don`t need professional advice. I`ll wait till my playing warrants the expenditure. I also think the most important thing is to avoid inserting my fingers deep in the middle of the black keys. If the space bewteen them (F to B) was the same as the space between (C & E) I wouldn`t have any problem at all. The space between these latter is wider. I do not play flat fingered, a couple of teachers told me my hand and finger playing was ok.

And this is for Emily Chopin.........don`t you wish you could have been George Sands?........I hope you follow my drift and don`t take it as an ofence!!!.

---------------------------------------------
Currently and for the past 50 years practising Czerny`s School of Velocity, but this time I won`t try and play any other piece till I get those damned 40 exercises right.

And talking about Czerny...........Having being Beethoven`s pupil for a time, Ludwig used to visit him on Sundays for a free dinner. Czerny complained that when it was raining Ludwig
used to shake his wet top hat in the hallway splashing Czerny`s furniture with rain drops spoiling the shine.

Common Czerny !!!, what is a bit of furniture in comparison with the greatness of such profound and romantic composer who had to do without his Inmortal Beloved?. My belief is that the Inmortal Beloved was after somebody with more money and never answered his letter........ I was going to add: "this is typical of women"!!!!!, but I won`t, just in case I upset somebody...........


Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1167153
03/23/09 06:33 AM
03/23/09 06:33 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 607
UK
Wood-demon Offline
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Wood-demon  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 607
UK
Didn't Oscar Wilde say something about nothing appearing quite so ridiculous as somebody else suffering the pangs of unrequited love?

I'm with Czerny here; Beethoven should have shown more respect for another's property. After all, Czerny was kind enough to provide him with a freebie dinner!

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1167156
03/23/09 06:47 AM
03/23/09 06:47 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,043
Queens, NY
BJones Offline
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BJones  Offline
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Queens, NY
Originally Posted by Carldee
Although I`m slim my fingers are quite fat, although my hand spans 10 white notes with ease, like Beethoven`s (fact).

I have problems with my middle fingers that quite often foul the black keys between F and B (Fa, Si), but not between C and E (Do, Mi), even when I strike them vertically.

Has anybody had this problem and is there a solution to it, besides slimming more or redesigning the keyboard?.


near the end of his life, Bill Evans, noted jazz pianist, had fingers that looked like bananas (water retention)!

He still played remarkably well, although oddly enough, the only songs he could play at that point were the old Harry belafonte Banana Boat song, "Dayo":

http://bussongs.com/songs/the_banana_boat_dayo.php

and "Yes, We Have No Bananas:"

http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/bananas.htm

grin

Last edited by BJones; 03/23/09 06:50 AM.
Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: JBB_Piano] #1167158
03/23/09 06:53 AM
03/23/09 06:53 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 1,043
Queens, NY
BJones Offline
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Queens, NY
Originally Posted by JBB_Piano
Hoffman had small hands and a special, smaller Steinway piano keyboard (with narrower keys) made for him for this purpose.


We were just discussing Josef Hoffman only being 7 inches tall and posing for bowling trophies in the friendly section of the piano forums (non-classical).

smile

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: BJones] #1168409
03/25/09 06:18 AM
03/25/09 06:18 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 157
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Carldee Offline OP
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Well I thought that JBB_Piano was talking about "Barcarole Hoffman" and not Joseph Hoffman. Then I remembered I had his book somewhere with his famous "piano questions" he used to answer in the Ladies journal at the turn of the century. In it I have now found a question a man psoed to him saying he had also broad tipped fingers that grazed the black keys as it happens to me. His aswer was. "The white keys between the blacks should be played on the middle of the white keys and not in between the black keys.

elementary dear Joseph........elementary./.....

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1168509
03/25/09 10:04 AM
03/25/09 10:04 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 488
Rockville, MD
Seeker Offline
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Years ago I studied with David Saperton in NYC. Saperton was one of the pianists who surrounded Hoffman. Saperton taught Bolet, Simon, Foster. His hands were sized and shaped pretty much like mine: broad palm, slightly wider than usual fingers, 5th finger relatively short (just shy of 1st joint on 4th finger). He adjusted my hand position, moving it further INTO the spaces between the black keys.

I worked with Peter Feuchtwanger last summer. His hands are shaped more like Horowitz's: relatively narrow palm, longish though not long fingers, slightly thinner than average fingers. His approach is different than Saperton's. Sometimes he wants me to play almost into the fallboard, but he wants the hand, as much as possible, to come back to what he calls neutral position, thumb off the keys, wrist low, fingers well back from the black keys.

Add'l observation: Some pianos have wider black keys than others, older Steinway D's for example have wide black keys, some European pianos I've played have relatively narrow black keys. Where I place my fingers is determined by where I CAN place them without getting stuck between black keys. It takes some rework before a performance (optimally if I get to rehearse on the instrument) - or during the performance if I haven't had a chance to play it earlier.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
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1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Seeker] #1168548
03/25/09 11:13 AM
03/25/09 11:13 AM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 607
UK
Wood-demon Offline
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Originally Posted by Seeker
Years ago I studied with David Saperton in NYC. Saperton was one of the pianists who surrounded Hoffman. Saperton taught Bolet, Simon, Foster. His hands were sized and shaped pretty much like mine: broad palm, slightly wider than usual fingers, 5th finger relatively short (just shy of 1st joint on 4th finger). He adjusted my hand position, moving it further INTO the spaces between the black keys.

I worked with Peter Feuchtwanger last summer. His hands are shaped more like Horowitz's: relatively narrow palm, longish though not long fingers, slightly thinner than average fingers. His approach is different than Saperton's. Sometimes he wants me to play almost into the fallboard, but he wants the hand, as much as possible, to come back to what he calls neutral position, thumb off the keys, wrist low, fingers well back from the black keys.

Add'l observation: Some pianos have wider black keys than others, older Steinway D's for example have wide black keys, some European pianos I've played have relatively narrow black keys. Where I place my fingers is determined by where I CAN place them without getting stuck between black keys. It takes some rework before a performance (optimally if I get to rehearse on the instrument) - or during the performance if I haven't had a chance to play it earlier.


Why did Feuchtwanger want to change your technique? What negative effect on your playing did the way Saperton taught you have?
You describe yourself as a professional soloist, so surely for Feuchtwanger to interfere with how you have, presumably, been playing successfully for years might well have resulted in unwelcome results.

Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: Carldee] #1168645
03/25/09 01:46 PM
03/25/09 01:46 PM
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Posts: 65
Washington
EmilyChopin Offline
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Originally Posted by Carldee

And this is for Emily Chopin.........don`t you wish you could have been George Sands?........I hope you follow my drift and don`t take it as an ofence!!!.



No! She was definitely a factor in Chopin's death, the stress of their breakup accelerated his illness, and also she treated her daughter Solange, who continued to be in contact with Chopin during the last year of his life, terribly. So no.


Just because my instrument is the size of a table does not mean you may lean on it!
Re: FAT FINGERS [Re: EmilyChopin] #1169196
03/26/09 11:01 AM
03/26/09 11:01 AM
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Posts: 157
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Carldee Offline OP
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BJones I had a good laugh at your remarks, a long way for me to go before I`ll get banana fingers!!!....I hope.

And as for Emily Chopin..........in other words, you are saying that George Sands was a.........
BagsInTrainsCanHang.......I presume.......


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