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#1995483 - 12/06/12 03:02 PM Thoughts on Golandsky ?  
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#1995517 - 12/06/12 04:33 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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"You hardly feel it and you hardly see it, but you know by the result it is there."

And if you have the same "result" without "it" being there ....?


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#1995660 - 12/06/12 10:09 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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I think the general idea within the pedagogy is that you can't get the same "result" without "it" being there. Whether that is true in reality is open to debate, because what you can't see or feel can't really be proven one way or the other.

From what I do know, having studied with Bob Durso in Philly, is that it does work. I have never met a pianist who trained in this technique and did not see at least some benefit. Will you hear me try to sell it as an over-the-top miracle? Nope. But it does work. smile


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#1996628 - 12/08/12 11:47 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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"Dr. John Mortensen, Professor of Piano at Cedarville University, explains the principle of rotation. It solves lots of problems and sets pianists free, but the majority of students do not understand it. Here's how and why."


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#1996716 - 12/09/12 03:50 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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This Mortensen guy is really articulate and clear. That's the best description of rotation I've ever heard!

#1996722 - 12/09/12 04:27 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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That was, indeed, extraordinarily clear.

I found Mortensen's point in the last five minutes interesting, and many people will probably disagree with it, because he makes a particularly strong claim: not just that single and double rotation is very important, but that the great pianists all use it, and playing comes so naturally to them that they're not aware of it and don't even think in those terms.

I'm a fan of single rotations when appropriate (Alberti bass, Beethoven op.26 mv.4). Studied Taubman a few years; not sure how I feel about double rotations; I'm not even sure if I'm currently doing them now very slightly. (I never think about them.) Certainly not sure about Mortensen's big claim, though I find it intriguing.

-J





Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1996753 - 12/09/12 06:58 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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He's also very wrong. The muscles in the forearm that operate your fingers are not weak, they are very strong! They are able to hold your body weight and more! The important muscles that 'rotate' your hand/wrist into playing position are also in the forearm (not the upper arm). The premise that 'rotation' marshals stronger muscles than the forearm finger muscles or arm weight is erroneous. I had to stop watching there. If you want to test this just get someone to grip your forearm while you attempt to 'rotate'. You'll soon see which is the more powerful.

#1996832 - 12/09/12 10:46 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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I can't comment on Taubman but I know that Mortensen made an excellent transcription of Piazzolla's Milonga del Angel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RLZBgLH7H8&feature=related

Last edited by pianoloverus; 12/09/12 10:46 AM.
#1996977 - 12/09/12 04:25 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: chopin_r_us]  
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I agree that the main rotating muscles are in the forearm rather than the upper arm. But as I understand it, the main issue with isolating the fingers is not so much about muscle strength. (Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear him say the muscles controlling the fingers are weak. He did say they tire easily if used in isolation, which is not quite the same thing.)

I don't recall all of Golandsky's explanation at the moment, but the Taubman approach aims to coordinate movements so that muscles are not straining against each other, which causes inefficiency and fatigue.


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Haydn, Sonata Hob. XVI: 19
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
#1996995 - 12/09/12 05:21 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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I also have doubts about that double rotation. This technique need to rotate your entire arm so it takes much more effort than just moving the fingers. And rotating back and forth for just 1 note seems undoable at speed.

I think that you need to use them both, both finger muscles and forearm and wrist motion. And in such a way that they support each other.


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#1997121 - 12/09/12 10:41 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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chopin- I'm not going to argue Mortensen, because I didn't watch the video and have no need to. I would like to look at your statement about the muscles controlling the fingers being strong/weak. Indeed, they are quite strong. Certainly strong enough to press the keys on the piano, much less hold your own body weight. But, like jdw said, they tire very quickly. A tired muscle cannot fire rapidly, let alone in a coordinated manner sufficient to play the piano with any accuracy. Much like trying to hold yourself on a ledge by just your fingertips, I think you would find if you tried to play an extremely difficult piece using only finger muscles, you will see yourself tire at about the same rate. On a 1/2 inch ledge, most people can hold their body weight by their fingertips for between 45 seconds and 1 min 15 seconds. That certainly won't get you through a challenging ten minute piece. wink

wouter- Doubles are hard to see, and even harder to feel. What you actually tend to feel is a "collapse" of the hand, and what you hear is an unevenness in the notes. Try this: play a five-note scale in C-major. Thumb on C. Then play your index finger. Your hand should be totally relaxed, your fingers on the keys. Now, play your middle finger. Observe the motion of your finger and hand before you play it. You cannot push it straight down, but actually must "prep" the motion by picking it up ever so slightly. This is the principle behind what Taubman calls a double rotation. (It's so very difficult to explain over the forums.. wish we could sit down at a piano. It's so much easier to understand what I'm trying to say when in person.)


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#1997195 - 12/10/12 02:42 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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I have every respect for Dorothy Taubman, it's just that it doesn't help her case when her ideas are represented with incorrect, misleading claims as seems to be happening all over the net, much of it promulgated by Golandsky - all this snake oil nonsense.

#1997214 - 12/10/12 04:12 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: chopin_r_us]  
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
I have every respect for Dorothy Taubman, it's just that it doesn't help her case when her ideas are represented with incorrect, misleading claims as seems to be happening all over the net, much of it promulgated by Golandsky - all this snake oil nonsense.

Not sure I followed you on that one. What do you mean?


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#1997227 - 12/10/12 05:23 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Thanks for the introduction to Mortensen. He is indeed clear and useful, even though, as chopin r us pointed out, he doesn't seem to realize that we have muscles in our forearms that pronate and supinate. (I had the same thought while watching the video.)

It seems to me that both Golandsky and Mortensen have a noticeable inelasticity in their hands while demonstrating rotation, sounding rather harsh, yet they don't necessarily play that way in "real life." One would not wish to play with such stiff fingers, and Taubman Approach doesn't advocate such a thing, to the best of my knowledge. In fact, the whole idea is to be fluid and natural, as Mortensen says but doesn't exactly do here.

You may find it worthwhile to check out Sheila Paige's presentation of similar ideas. She only has introductions to her DVDs on YouTube, not complete videos, but you can get a lot out of even that much.

I appreciate Derulux's clear explanation of double rotations.

Elene

#1997234 - 12/10/12 05:51 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Elene]  
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I studied this video and several similar ones but still do not understand them. I don't play a huge heap of classical music but when I improvise I use a fair amount of technique of all sorts and I think I would grind to a halt if I began thinking about things like that. I frequently use the direct finger striking which he deplores, because I prefer the clear, detached sound for the rhythms I like, but I don't think it results in harshness or tension as he suggests, or at least it has never done me any harm, physically or musically, that I know of. But I suppose if the principle is undetectable then I might be doing it anyway and not know it. Either way I don't think I shall try to fix what is probably not broken.




Last edited by Ted; 12/10/12 07:22 AM.

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#1997353 - 12/10/12 01:24 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
he makes a particularly strong claim: not just that single and double rotation is very important, but that the great pianists all use it, and playing comes so naturally to them that they're not aware of it and don't even think in those terms.
I think the point 'It's what all great pianists do whether they were taught it or are even aware they do it.' is worth considering. The answer being 'Well, why not just play like the greats and you too will be doing this hidden thing!' I think that's the way to go. The secrets don't need dredging up.

#1997356 - 12/10/12 01:35 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Ted, if you were "broken," you'd likely know, and yes, if you don't feel broken, you're probably not. My teacher ended up studying Taubman style with Sheila Paige because, due to being taught in an amazingly incorrect manner, he got to the point where he could barely button his shirt, let alone play without severe pain.

That being said, it's possible that you just haven't been playing pieces in which you'd be prone to hurt yourself by playing with isolated fingers. But I think it's more probable that since you use "technique of all sorts" you're naturally using your body at least fairly efficiently and not isolating your fingers in an uncomfortable way. I think most of us probably play with some degree of rotation and other movement of our arms because that contributes to our sounding and feeling musical and not stuck or mechanical.

You may remember that in the early 19th century some teachers (Kalkbrenner was one) affixed rails to the front of the piano and insisted that the student's arms rest there. Let's just say that this idea went away a long time ago and that's a very good thing.

Rotation does not add difficulty; as Mortensen said, actually it is freeing and brings a sense of ease and fluidity. One telling place to experiment with this is the C minor prelude from WTC I. Try playing it with just your isolated fingers, then with rotation and other arm movement, and I think you'll see what I mean.

While double rotation may be hard to perceive in someone's playing, rotation in general is by no means "undetectable." It's quite macroscopic. Look around and I'm sure you'll notice it. It's absolutely fascinating to observe what movements a pianist is making in performance and what muscles are causing them.

However, I am definitely not brilliant enough to watch great pianists and automatically learn how they do what they do by osmosis. The "secrets" need to be pointed out to me and I need to have someone demonstrate and explain how I can do it myself, then sit with me and give feedback. There's no substitute.

And the funniest thing is that the "secrets" are all very simple. You learn this amazingly simple thing... then you spend the next 50 years trying to put it into practice, and you go deeper and deeper.

Elene

#1997363 - 12/10/12 02:02 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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I think a little historical perspective is in order:

Matthay, over a hundred years ago, was the first person to write about the curious phenomenon of the hands 'rotating' inwards (pronating, making the knuckles horizontal) just before commencing playing. He saw that in doing so the muscles working against the pull get wound up. What great pianists do, he noticed, is allow that tension to unwind a little into the pinky area whenever playing on that side of the hand was required. Basically he postulated a constant winding/unwinding motion whilst playing. He wrote masses about all this, but the simple thing to notice is that the 'greats' don't just fix their hold in pronation, by second nature, they allow it relax (unwind) to some extent. That's Matthay, Taubman and Golandsky in a nut shell.

edit: and this is what I forgot to add:
Originally Posted by Elene

And the funniest thing is that the "secrets" are all very simple. You learn this amazingly simple thing... then you spend the next 50 years trying to put it into practice, and you go deeper and deeper.

Elene

#1997369 - 12/10/12 02:16 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: chopin_r_us]  
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Originally Posted by beet31425
he makes a particularly strong claim: not just that single and double rotation is very important, but that the great pianists all use it, and playing comes so naturally to them that they're not aware of it and don't even think in those terms.
I think the point 'It's what all great pianists do whether they were taught it or are even aware they do it.' is worth considering. The answer being 'Well, why not just play like the greats and you too will be doing this hidden thing!' I think that's the way to go. The secrets don't need dredging up.

I think that's the exact point of the technique. If you already do it, great! Congratulations. Move on. But if you do not, and can't figure out why your playing is not where you would like it to be, here is a scientific approach to diagnosing what technique issues you may have and not even know it. I do stop well short of the "miracle pill" ideology, but there is nothing wrong with quantifying and categorizing, in a scientific approach, what movements create sound, and which movements allow one to play with greater facility and ease.

By the way, if you get a chance, please review my previous question. I would like to discuss it, but wasn't quite clear what you meant. smile


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
#1997373 - 12/10/12 02:22 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux

I think that's the exact point of the technique. If you already do it, great! Congratulations. Move on. But if you do not, and can't figure out why your playing is not where you would like it to be, here is a scientific approach to diagnosing what technique issues you may have and not even know it.
I don't see what is scientific about it. Mr Mortensen got the anatomy substantially wrong, and yet he's a spokesman?
Originally Posted by Derulux

By the way, if you get a chance, please review my previous question. I would like to discuss it, but wasn't quite clear what you meant. smile
I was only saying the snake oil salesman approach doesn't wash with me.

#1997384 - 12/10/12 03:12 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: chopin_r_us]  
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Originally Posted by Derulux

I think that's the exact point of the technique. If you already do it, great! Congratulations. Move on. But if you do not, and can't figure out why your playing is not where you would like it to be, here is a scientific approach to diagnosing what technique issues you may have and not even know it.
I don't see what is scientific about it. Mr Mortensen got the anatomy substantially wrong, and yet he's a spokesman?

Yeah, I don't know who Mortensen is. Never met him. But I don't think he's a spokesman for the Golandsky Institute. I've met Edna, even played the piano in her apartment once for her, and studied for about five years with Bob Durso in Philly, but I never met Mortensen. The list of Faculty is here: http://www.golandskyinstitute.org/teachers/faculty.

I do agree that those who know nothing about a particular discipline (anatomy, for example) should not comment on it without the proper foundation to make such comments. However, I would not go so far as to say that the technique is not scientific because one guy, who does not represent the Institute, got it wrong once. wink

Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Originally Posted by Derulux

By the way, if you get a chance, please review my previous question. I would like to discuss it, but wasn't quite clear what you meant. smile
I was only saying the snake oil salesman approach doesn't wash with me.

Ah, okay. Yeah, I don't like that crap, either. I know what those people intend, because I understand the change in their playing that they have experienced, but to me, that kind of 'preaching' does more harm than good. I can't stand the "religious" approach.. the "it's a miracle" (even if it is), or the faith-based, "trust me, it works" approach (even if it does). It just seems fake to me.

It's interesting that, in most writing courses (whether fiction or business marketing), they teach you not to "preach" to your audience. That is, don't tell them what to think or feel because they won't believe you. I think that holds true here, too. People can't say, "It's a miracle!" You won't believe them, and neither would I. It's the same principle behind the reason why I don't buy anything they advertised on late night TV... wink

Last edited by Derulux; 12/10/12 03:13 PM.

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#1997390 - 12/10/12 03:24 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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#1997465 - 12/10/12 06:39 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Elene]  
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Elene, thanks for your long and interesting reply. As I implied, I know little about technical traditions or classical music, and have not had a serious teacher for forty-five years. While I don't doubt that attention to these matters would have made me a better pianist per se, I agree that I have probably fluked assimilation of enough fluid movements to render correction unnecessary. What about Virgil Practice Claviers of the sort used by Arrau ? Good ? Bad ? Indifferent ? I have used one night and morning for over forty years and have always considered it has kept my technique alive and in a state fit to allow flow of ideas in improvisation, but anyone can be wrong I suppose. I have never had pain from playing in my life. I've had one or two involuntary movements, which seem to take ages to get rid of, but not to the point of interference with creative flow.

The few pieces I play are difficult but not very difficult - Chopin studies, Waller solos, classical and contemporary ragtime, that sort of thing. I don't strive for perfection, being content with around 95% provided it is musical and enjoyable to me in private.

Thanks again for your thoughts,
Ted.

Last edited by Ted; 12/10/12 06:40 PM.

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#1997614 - 12/10/12 11:01 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Maybe I'm leading a sheltered life, but I don't really see a lot of snake oil. Okay, some things could be rephrased here and there. But I get the feeling that expressions of genuine enthusiasm are sometimes dismissed as preaching.

I find myself self-censoring when I post about Taubman study. I know that if I wrote honestly about my epiphanies (and that's the subjective experience of learning new, transformative stuff, even when its basis is the objective study of movement)--I'd be perceived as a fanatic.

Personally, I admire Golandsky and her institute faculty for their efforts to educate people about this approach. Like many others, I was completely sidelined by injury. If they weren't reaching out, I would never have heard of Taubman. This study has not only enabled me to play again, but taken my technique to totally new (if still modest) levels. Hard to say enough good about it.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Haydn, Sonata Hob. XVI: 19
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
#1998057 - 12/11/12 09:49 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Another thought on the double rotations that might be helpful. At the risk of making them sound mechanical, which they aren't: I sometimes think of it as like a ratchet, or a reset. As Derulux said, it's a very small adjustment that gets you ready to play the next note, so the hand doesn't collapse.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Haydn, Sonata Hob. XVI: 19
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
#1998152 - 12/12/12 02:45 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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I really don't think about double rotations consciously unless I'm in one of these three situations:

1) playing Baroque/polyphonic music, when I have to legato a certain voice while letting go of the other fingers (also excellent for making the preparatory motion for quick ornaments!);

2) slow music that allows for the overt gesture of double rotations, for the sake of expression and tone; and

3) playing a difficult passage that requires extra thought on my part, usually in the form of tricky fingering or difficult rhythmic figures.

Most of the time (especially in runs) I just use shaping and in & out motion.


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#1998153 - 12/12/12 02:53 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Professor Dr. John Mortensen answers the following question:

I have no doubts about how beneficial rotation can be (in cases where rotating from side to side can help to lead directly towards the next notes eg. in Alberti bass). What I question is the reason for wanting to believe the forearm rotates back and forth within a fast scale- when the notes go in a single direction. Do we believe the idea that the arm can not only rotate into the note, but rotate back to prepare for the next note in fast scales?

"Yes, that is the great question. As you probably know, Taubman/Golandsky et al refer to this as the preparatory swing. I would say that such a motion exists at slower tempos (I was just practicing Scarlatti a minute ago and definitely used prep swings in LH 8th notes) but vanishes progressively as it speeds up. However, I do believe that using the swing at slower speeds gives the pianist an advantage at faster speeds because (and this is just my theory) the balance and natural motion of the slower rotation will cause the pianist to discover the most balanced and natural way of playing faster. the habit transfers even if the exact motion doesn't. I also notice that slow practicing of fast passages with at least a little prep swing rotation does help them when they get back to speed. The main thing, in my opinion, is to avoid the extremes of finger isolation and independence, which is the root of all kinds of evil.

At the end of the day, talking about complex physical motion is difficult, ain't it?

Happy practicing,

JJM "

#1998405 - 12/12/12 03:28 PM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Posts: 120
kuifje Offline
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kuifje  Offline
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Posts: 120
I also saw this video and wondered about the same thing. The way I understand it is that the most important thing is to never ever use your extensors to lift your fingers.

So, that being said, do you get your finger high enough to strike (or rather push down) a key? For instance for the 3rd note of a legato scale?

To my knowledge there are 3 ways:

1) only for slow passages: actual double rotation. And you know it is there because you see it and you feel it. This is effectively weight playing?

2) by contracting your 2nd finger a little while the 2nd key is on the keybed. This will lift your whole hand.

3) For fast passages: by keeping your hand at constant height (= high enough), and push your fingers down one by one (from the knuckles or by curving them),

( and 4. apparently in staccato, you can let the key and your fingers bounce back from the keybed).

So maybe what she describes as double rotation being there without seeing or feeling is the fact that you don't use your extensors.

Does this sound reasonable?






#1998773 - 12/13/12 07:34 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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jdw Offline
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jdw  Offline
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Posts: 1,590
Philadelphia, PA
I find the idea of not using the extensors at all a bit confusing. Were you told this by a teacher?

The fingers have to move, and I've never been told not to use their muscles to move them (except maybe in very early training, to get the forearm rotation going). But they need to move in coordination with the rest of the hand and arm, not in isolation.

I'm not sure I understand your examples--as has been said, it's hard to describe motions in words. But #3 sounds like isolating the individual fingers, which wouldn't be good.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Haydn, Sonata Hob. XVI: 19
Chopin, Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
#1998855 - 12/13/12 11:27 AM Re: Thoughts on Golandsky ? [Re: Jazz+]  
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Derulux Offline
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Derulux  Offline
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Posts: 5,446
Philadelphia
Originally Posted by kuifje
So maybe what she describes as double rotation being there without seeing or feeling is the fact that you don't use your extensors.

It's nearly impossible to not use your extensors. I think the idea is that you "feel" like you're not using them, but you still are using them. If you didn't use them at all, you would never be able to play individual notes. The depth of the key and the weight of your hand is enough to cause other fingers to play notes along with the one you mean to play. (One exception: if, as jdw said, you isolate your fingers, you would be able to play individual notes, but eventually such isolation will prevent your advancement and potentially cause injury.)

Let me try to go through the examples the best I can:

1) In effect, very similar. In cause, different enough that I would not call them the same thing.

2) I'm not sure what you mean, but it sounds like isolation.. better to avoid isolating fingers.

3) Your hand should never remain at a constant height. "Locking" your hand in place is one major way to create tension. In nearly all passage work, your wrist will change heights in accordance with the note/fingering/lyrical progression.

4) You probably shouldn't strike the key hard enough to cause your hand to bounce, but yes, one way to play staccato is to lift your entire hand after the note is played. It takes a little longer, but it can be done.


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
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