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#2167944 - 10/18/13 12:04 AM Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording  
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My cell phone has a slow motion video recording option so I did a quick recording. Any issues with my technique? I've mostly self re-taught as an adult so I bet there'll be some issues.

1/4 speed, playing kind of at my maximum tempo

There was no audio recorded, but I'm sure you guys can figure out what I'm playing :P

[video:youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_r4kisDzXg
[/video]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_r4kisDzXg


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#2167948 - 10/18/13 12:14 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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And here's a normal speed video at around the limit of my tempo (same real-time tempo as slowmo video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=razBgyYRQEA

Excuse the lack of musicality and mistakes, I'm mostly looking for comments on technique. Is my arm height, wrist motions, finger straightness, etc. OK?


1980 Yamaha C7 from Rick Jones (http://imgur.com/a/duLJb)
Kawai MP-10
Previously: 2012 Young Chang Y175, which was quite impressive for the price
#2167958 - 10/18/13 01:05 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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#2168021 - 10/18/13 07:03 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]  
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Don't forget to re-order those checks!
LOL!

First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.

Also, do you feel any fatigue in the arms wrists or hands when you play this? Or any tingling sensations? Usually it's those things that prompts someone to ask about their technique, because when those things exist there is something wrong that prevents them from playing musically and with freedom.


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#2168025 - 10/18/13 07:33 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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I would like you to watch these videos, watch closely at the pianists' hands, and then ask yourself this same question again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZr_cbYbXo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdCObCqE7ek
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRPEiCfU7kg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pye9RgJ9_NY

#2168094 - 10/18/13 11:07 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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I definitely see some tension. Your middle knuckle is very high, and bent at a right angle at least part of the time, and your ring and pinky fingers are often straight. At the slow speeds, it looks like there is very little individual motion helping you strike your ring finger, and that could be leading to some issues if you try to push through this tempo.

What would be more interesting to see would be a video of you trying to push through the tempos, to a point where you fail, because then the technique issues will be very apparent.


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#2168114 - 10/18/13 11:46 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Alan Lai]  
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Originally Posted by Alan Lai
I would like you to watch these videos, watch closely at the pianists' hands, and then ask yourself this same question again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpZr_cbYbXo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdCObCqE7ek


These two examples are really interesting in that there is a huge difference in the amount of movement between Ashkenazy and Ohlsson. Can someone comment on that (a significant amount of rotation from Ohlsson)? It's not that there is none from Ashkenazy but it's not very noticable.

#2168168 - 10/18/13 02:03 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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I'm not sure that there is. Video quality, angle of recording, and distance from the hands likely interfere with our perception of movement. They certainly make very similar movements, but I think the degree to which they move is more difficult to ascertain with any certainty.

If you look closely, you can see the similar movements they are making, and you can also see that their fingers are striking the keys in similar places. Differences in degree of movement probably would have more to do with the anatomy of their playing mechanism than discrepancies of technique.


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#2168172 - 10/18/13 02:14 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by BruceD
Don't forget to re-order those checks!
LOL!

First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.

Also, do you feel any fatigue in the arms wrists or hands when you play this? Or any tingling sensations? Usually it's those things that prompts someone to ask about their technique, because when those things exist there is something wrong that prevents them from playing musically and with freedom.


1) I mainly said that because the tempo I recorded was pretty fast for me so there's some mistakes and dynamics aren't great. It'll take more practice for me to work up the tempo, but I'm interested in knowing if there's anything terribly wrong with my technique before I keep practicing this.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


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#2168182 - 10/18/13 02:48 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.
One can have technical problems but possess great musicality. And one can have great technique but be lacking in musicality(a common criticism of many of today's pianists, although not one I agree with).

Thus, although the goal of great technique should be to be able to do whatever one wants at the piano(hopefully something highly musical), I think the two can be separated and studied separately.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/18/13 02:49 PM.
#2168203 - 10/18/13 03:39 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
I'm not sure that there is. Video quality, angle of recording, and distance from the hands likely interfere with our perception of movement. They certainly make very similar movements, but I think the degree to which they move is more difficult to ascertain with any certainty.

If you look closely, you can see the similar movements they are making, and you can also see that their fingers are striking the keys in similar places. Differences in degree of movement probably would have more to do with the anatomy of their playing mechanism than discrepancies of technique.


Probably true. I've also been playing this so it grabbed my attention.

#2168278 - 10/18/13 08:20 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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I didn't watch your video, but know this etude very well. If there is fatigue (and you say there is), then your technique isn't yet strong enough to play it at the tempo you're using. I can't stress the importance of slowwwwww (and I mean extremely slow) practice with this etude. The fatigue doesn't come from the speed of your tempo, but from the fact that you've not yet trained yourself for the acrobatics this piece requires. Speed will come (and you'll find it will come surprisingly easy once you've got all the notes under your fingers completely at a slow tempo). Once you're able to get through it at a slow tempo error free move the tempo up gradually day by day. If errors crop up consistently then you go back to slow practice. Practice without the pedal as well, which really forces you to work slowly and precisely. Once everything is solidly there and you're at tempo there won't be any fatigue and the arpeggios will roll off like water. Believe it, or not, it will feel "easy".



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#2168279 - 10/18/13 08:29 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Originally Posted by Allan W.


2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue is the precursor to tingling or pain. This is your body telling you that you are tense. Please take this down to a tempo where you don't have any fatigue, no matter how slow that is. There is no shame in slow practice, even the best pianists need to do it. Playing with fatigue however, will result in long-term issues.

This is also a big indicator that your technique needs help. I see a lot of added movement in the fingers that are unnecessary. Take a look at the videos Derulux posted and compare with yours. Work on keeping the fingers that aren't pressing a key relaxed as you play this SUPER slow. Gradually work up to tempo over a period of weeks while maintaining the relaxation you feel at slower tempi.


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#2168281 - 10/18/13 08:31 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Morodiene
First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.
One can have technical problems but possess great musicality. And one can have great technique but be lacking in musicality(a common criticism of many of today's pianists, although not one I agree with).

Thus, although the goal of great technique should be to be able to do whatever one wants at the piano(hopefully something highly musical), I think the two can be separated and studied separately.
But the problem is that the OP cannot be musical because his technique is preventing him, and that was the purpose for my question.


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#2168338 - 10/19/13 02:16 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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I think you might be playing with some tension.

I don't like the sound of the fatigue you are describing. I'd suggest stopping or slowing down at the very first feeling of fatigue. As you no doubt know, this is NOT at all the same as bench presses at the gym where old gym rats have the adage, "no pain no gain."

A few things about your body mechanics to consider (although from a fixed angle and limited view I'm not certain about any of these): your left wrist looks tight and arched, arms might be too low in relation to the keyboard (try raising the bench), RH hand and wrist look tense. Also monitor tension at your neck and shoulders (which are out of the video of course).


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#2168408 - 10/19/13 07:50 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Morodiene
First, of all, how can you separate technique from musicality? Isn't technique the means by which you can be more musical? So playing a piece of music without musicality means you are 'technically' lacking. In other words, you need to learn techniques on how to play this musically.
One can have technical problems but possess great musicality. And one can have great technique but be lacking in musicality(a common criticism of many of today's pianists, although not one I agree with).

Thus, although the goal of great technique should be to be able to do whatever one wants at the piano(hopefully something highly musical), I think the two can be separated and studied separately.
But the problem is that the OP cannot be musical because his technique is preventing him, and that was the purpose for my question.
Actually, I think the problem is that the OP cannot simply play the notes at anywhere tempo yet, and I think that's his concern. He's far from the point of trying to get the piece at a high musical level even though he may realize it's unmusical.



Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/19/13 07:55 AM.
#2168464 - 10/19/13 10:24 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Originally Posted by Allan W.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


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#2168473 - 10/19/13 10:51 AM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Arghhh]  
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by Allan W.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


It doesn't come from prolonged muscle usage. It comes, because those muscles aren't trained yet. One with solid technique won't feel any fatigue, whatsoever, when playing this etude.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

#2168533 - 10/19/13 12:57 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Arghhh


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


It doesn't come from prolonged muscle usage. It comes, because those muscles aren't trained yet. One with solid technique won't feel any fatigue, whatsoever, when playing this etude.


I find this to be so true. The old adage "no pain, no gain" doesn't apply in piano, and "pain" extends to the precursors to it such as fatigue, tingling (at or away from piano), numbness, achiness, etc.

If anyone feels these sensations, please, listen to your body. It's telling you that you are not playing this right. It happens to use all, but the difference is some of us will recognize it for what it is and work it out of our playing, and others will ignore and risk injury.


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#2168543 - 10/19/13 01:15 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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So you're saying that someone with the right technique but hasn't been using the right hand pinky as heavily as it is used in this etude, can start learning it, practice it for hours at a time at high tempo, and not feel any fatigue? i.e. there's no training of the muscles to get stronger in preparation for playing this without fatigue?

Yes, my arm did look a little low in the video. But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.


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#2168545 - 10/19/13 01:29 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Originally Posted by Allan W.
So you're saying that someone with the right technique but hasn't been using the right hand pinky as heavily as it is used in this etude, can start learning it, practice it for hours at a time at high tempo, and not feel any fatigue? i.e. there's no training of the muscles to get stronger in preparation for playing this without fatigue?
Well, yes and no. "Practice it for hours at a high tempo" would only occur once the person was ready to play it at that tempo. A lot more practice happens under tempo, especially in the beginning stages of learning a new piece.

And what muscles are you referring to that need to be made stronger? Presumably the hypothetical person here is ready to study this piece. That means they have invested in their training up until now, so the muscle used in playing are already strong enough. However, playing is more about tendons and arm weight than it is muscle though.

Quote
Yes, my arm did look a little low in the video. But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, [b]since I don't need to sit up straight[b/].
I'm not sure I understand what you mean.


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#2168563 - 10/19/13 02:22 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Originally Posted by Allan W.
[...]But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.


Why do you say that you do not need to sit up straight? Good posture is essential to good playing (exceptions noted!) and continuous slouching is one of the major contributors to long-term - if not permanent - back pain.

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#2168564 - 10/19/13 02:35 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Originally Posted by Allan W.
Yes, my arm did look a little low in the video. But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.

I understand. But if you can keep your posture good regardless of bench height then you'll be able to get your body aligned properly. Of course as I mentioned in the other post, we can't tell for sure from the video.


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#2168619 - 10/19/13 04:54 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Originally Posted by Allan W.
So you're saying that someone with the right technique but hasn't been using the right hand pinky as heavily as it is used in this etude, can start learning it, practice it for hours at a time at high tempo, and not feel any fatigue? i.e. there's no training of the muscles to get stronger in preparation for playing this without fatigue?



If one possesses the correct technique, there will be no need to use the pinky "heavily", nor will there be a need to practise it for hours at a time. You ask, if there is no training of the muscles to get stronger for playing this etude without fatigue and I've already given you the answer above. Acquiring the necessary technique IS the training.



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"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#2168621 - 10/19/13 04:57 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: musicpassion]  
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Originally Posted by musicpassion

I understand. But if you can keep your posture good regardless of bench height then you'll be able to get your body aligned properly. Of course as I mentioned in the other post, we can't tell for sure from the video.


Bench height is part of keeping your posture at the piano correct. Regardless of how well you think you've kept your posture your body won't be "aligned" properly, if the bench is too high, or too low.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#2168623 - 10/19/13 04:59 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: Allan W.]  
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Might I also add that you really should get yourself a good teacher who can help you firsthand with these things, Allan.



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"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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Posts: 2,060
California, USA
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by musicpassion

I understand. But if you can keep your posture good regardless of bench height then you'll be able to get your body aligned properly. Of course as I mentioned in the other post, we can't tell for sure from the video.


Bench height is part of keeping your posture at the piano correct. Regardless of how well you think you've kept your posture your body won't be "aligned" properly, if the bench is too high, or too low.

Yes, the bench height is a big part of it. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. However there can be adjustment periods where one does need to focus on posture etc. and in the end will have a better result.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2168705 - 10/19/13 09:19 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: BruceD]  
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 392
Allan W. Offline
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Allan W.  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 392
Maryland
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Allan W.
[...]But if I raise my bench then I feel like my back might be slouching more, since I don't need to sit up straight.


Why do you say that you do not need to sit up straight? Good posture is essential to good playing (exceptions noted!) and continuous slouching is one of the major contributors to long-term - if not permanent - back pain.

Regards,


I've been making a conscious effort to straighten my back while playing. I meant that if I raise my bench height to increase my arm height and straighten out my upper arm, then it is more difficult to sit up straight since it feels like I'm sitting pretty high.

Anyway -- I will raise my bench one notch while still trying to maintain sitting up straight.

Last edited by Allan W.; 10/19/13 09:25 PM.

1980 Yamaha C7 from Rick Jones (http://imgur.com/a/duLJb)
Kawai MP-10
Previously: 2012 Young Chang Y175, which was quite impressive for the price
#2168706 - 10/19/13 09:27 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]  
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 392
Allan W. Offline
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Allan W.  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 392
Maryland
Originally Posted by stores
Might I also add that you really should get yourself a good teacher who can help you firsthand with these things, Allan.


I had a good teacher a month ago who said my posture looked mostly fine. I think I'll try to switch to a piano performance PhD student at my nearby university because they'll have more experience working on advanced repertoire.


1980 Yamaha C7 from Rick Jones (http://imgur.com/a/duLJb)
Kawai MP-10
Previously: 2012 Young Chang Y175, which was quite impressive for the price
#2168719 - 10/19/13 10:31 PM Re: Comment on my technique? And testing slow motion recording [Re: stores]  
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Derulux Offline
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Derulux  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 5,446
Philadelphia
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Arghhh
Originally Posted by Allan W.

2) Yes, it is tiring to practice this, especially on heavier actions like the Kawai MP-10 I have or my grand. After 20-30 minutes of playing my pinky muscle area is fatigued and so is my forearm. But I think it's OK since there's no tingling and it's not painful. It seems like it's just training the muscles, especially since it's fast and the notes need to be played forte.


Fatigue usually comes from prolonged muscle usage. I feel piano playing is a lot more of quick muscular bursts than continual force. I can see why your pinky muscles would be tired. If you look at your pinky finger, it is constantly held up and the last joint is actually hyperextending. I can't even do that, but if I try, it automatically makes the rest of my hand stiff as well.


It doesn't come from prolonged muscle usage. It comes, because those muscles aren't trained yet. One with solid technique won't feel any fatigue, whatsoever, when playing this etude.

On the first part of this, sir, you are wrong. Muscles tire because they are used, not because they are not used.

The second part, however, is correct. One with solid technique minimizes the use of those muscles, so they do not feel as fatigued as someone whose technique causes muscle strain. Typical fatigue is caused by muscles overworking to correct for poor alignment and/or coordination of movements. This is sometimes simplified (even by me) as "lacking proper technique".

So, to comment on another portion of the discussion, it is not necessary to "build up muscles" to play the piano. A certain degree of endurance notwithstanding (and which can be acquired through the regular course of practice), if you are strong enough to press down the keys (which only takes a few ounces of strength), then you need no more muscular strength at all.

This is a great comment from stores, and is worth repeating:
Quote
Acquiring the necessary technique IS the training.


Essentially, I think we all seem to be saying this in one form or another.


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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