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Injury cause and prevention #2196763
12/13/13 12:01 AM
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Hi, so I hear a lot of people talking about injury at the piano. What are some causes of injury at the piano, and how do you prevent it?

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Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2196783
12/13/13 01:08 AM
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Try Freeing the Caged Bird by Barbara Lister-Sink. It should answer your questions.



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Music is my best friend.


Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2196787
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Over practicing did it for me one summer. I couldn't play full caliber for a while...
You need to warm-up every day, take breaks, and stop when you feel tension. Otherwise, you build up muscles as you practice, so if you build up slowly to more/longer hours, it isn't detrimental to your health!


Everyday is a great day.
Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2196792
12/13/13 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by A Guy
Hi, so I hear a lot of people talking about injury at the piano. What are some causes of injury at the piano, and how do you prevent it?


I'm not an expert, but I can give a few pointers and explanations that may help:

-Make sure your physical approach to playing the piano is good. Yes, this is incredibly broad and incredibly vague, and I can't explain everything perfectly by typing to you on this forum. (If I could, nobody would need teachers anymore. Or, it actually is possible, and I'm just not that advanced yet. I'm still a student! wink ) This includes good posture, being able to relax your shoulders, elbow, forearm, and wrist, while still being able to keep a good bridge/curl and firmness to your knuckles and fingers. This also includes a good approach to other technical difficulties: playing octaves? Don't let yourself tense up; practice legato with the upper fingers and keep your thumb as relaxed as possible as much as possible, for example. Chords? Make sure you're thinking about the voicing and voice leading of chords in a bigger line, and once again, don't allow yourself to tense up. If tension is an issue, I probably can't help you anymore online. A good teacher is your best bet.

-SLOW PRACTICE, EVEN AFTER YOU CAN PLAY PASSAGES FULL TEMPO. It keeps it solid, it keeps you focusing on all the inner workings of the passage. You do need to occasionally (NOT often) go through passages at full tempo, and you should also try other tempi in between, but slow practice is the best bet. Getting tired of slow practice? You should be making music slowly, not just practicing slowly to build character and build discipline and say you practiced slowly a lot.

-Don't bite off too much. Take a step back after wrestling with something difficult for a while and analyze what kind of progress you have made. Analyze what you have been able to do, and what is still tricky for you. Since we're discussing injuries, think a lot about what you notice physically. Once again, this might be really difficult to do if you haven't been taught how to do this and don't have a lot of experience doing it, so a good teacher is your best bet.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2196797
12/13/13 02:04 AM
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1. Tension due to incorrect playing
2. A fallboard that won't stay open
3. A small child who heavily closes said fallboard while you're hands are still there
4. Sharp-edged keys
5. Keys that won't press down, and/or require different amounts of force
6. Rotten fruit and vegetables thrown very hard by audience members
7. Closing the lid on your hands
8. Running over a toe when moving the piano
9. For that matter, a piano falling on you
10. Mostly, the tension thing

EDIT: Oh yeah, prevention...

Uhh. Don't have tension. Yep. Or children. wink

Last edited by Derulux; 12/13/13 02:05 AM.

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.
Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: pianorigami] #2196883
12/13/13 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by pianorigami
Over practicing did it for me one summer. I couldn't play full caliber for a while...
You need to warm-up every day, take breaks, and stop when you feel tension. Otherwise, you build up muscles as you practice, so if you build up slowly to more/longer hours, it isn't detrimental to your health!


It seems so simple but taking frequent breaks is really important. My injury in the past was from marathon practice sessions. Not to mention taking breaks will actually increase your progress so it's a win-win.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: Derulux] #2196890
12/13/13 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Derulux
6. Rotten fruit and vegetables thrown very hard by audience members


Number one cause of injury while playing the piano smile thanks to everyone who have answered so far.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2196894
12/13/13 08:56 AM
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I had a past teacher who spent years on getting me to play relaxed. However, in hard pieces, many times at full tempo I still feel tension after playing for a while. On this case, should I stop completely, or is it possible to just go back to slow practice. The reason I ask this is I will be gong on a vacation, and every day I will not have a 2-hour timeframe to practice, if I feel tension, and I stop, I would've wasted the rest of the 2 hours.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197063
12/13/13 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by A Guy
Originally Posted by Derulux
6. Rotten fruit and vegetables thrown very hard by audience members


Number one cause of injury while playing the piano smile thanks to everyone who have answered so far.

It is for me.. at least when I actually used to perform in public, anyway. grin But I've actually had most of those happen to me, which is how I came up with the list...

Quote
I had a past teacher who spent years on getting me to play relaxed. However, in hard pieces, many times at full tempo I still feel tension after playing for a while. On this case, should I stop completely, or is it possible to just go back to slow practice. The reason I ask this is I will be gong on a vacation, and every day I will not have a 2-hour timeframe to practice, if I feel tension, and I stop, I would've wasted the rest of the 2 hours.

Most tension is caused by either poor alignment, poor coordination, or a combination of the two. If you discover which one, you can correct it. 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.
Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197076
12/13/13 03:12 PM
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nothing worse than a cowardly tomato, one that hits you and runs! smile

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197082
12/13/13 03:22 PM
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I think if you start to feel tension, you can slow down and analyze it as Derulux suggests. Or, if you can't identify the cause right away, you could shift to playing that feels good (either slower or other stuff altogether) so you don't lose your time.


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Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197117
12/13/13 04:47 PM
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No one has mentioned doing too many repetitions of something in one sitting. My teacher made a remark to me that the students of hers who ended up with injuries were often also the ones who practiced things obsessively (like trying to play a passage 10x perfectly, with multiple failures causing me to restart my counting at 1).


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: Arghhh] #2197123
12/13/13 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
No one has mentioned doing too many repetitions of something in one sitting. My teacher made a remark to me that the students of hers who ended up with injuries were often also the ones who practiced things obsessively (like trying to play a passage 10x perfectly, with multiple failures causing me to restart my counting at 1).


It's a good point. I think repetition is the culprit more than overall duration. Especially if it's repetition with tension. As long as you are not doing this I don't see 2 hours as being much of a concern.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: Arghhh] #2197143
12/13/13 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Arghhh
No one has mentioned doing too many repetitions of something in one sitting. My teacher made a remark to me that the students of hers who ended up with injuries were often also the ones who practiced things obsessively (like trying to play a passage 10x perfectly, with multiple failures causing me to restart my counting at 1).

Oh... I actually do this quite a lot on difficult passages...

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197149
12/13/13 05:37 PM
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I recall my teacher's advice being that it's supposed to feel good when you play. Most passages, even the most difficult, have a right way to do it. If you are doing many repetitions and it's still not getting under the fingers it might be better to do more analysis and make some changes to how you physically approach the passage. Getting it right before doing those repetitions will save you time and damage.

I used to spend hours hammering away at difficult sections trying to beat them into submission. It wasn't the time that was the problem but the methods I was using.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197193
12/13/13 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by A Guy
I had a past teacher who spent years on getting me to play relaxed. However, in hard pieces, many times at full tempo I still feel tension after playing for a while. On this case, should I stop completely, or is it possible to just go back to slow practice. The reason I ask this is I will be gong on a vacation, and every day I will not have a 2-hour timeframe to practice, if I feel tension, and I stop, I would've wasted the rest of the 2 hours.


One thing my coach, Thomas Mark (www.pianomap.com) teaches in private lessons is that every movement for every piece should be choreographed just the way a dancer does.

That means that, specific to the morphology of not just your hands, but also your arms, shoulders, upper and lower body, you should make certain adjustments for each and every movement that occurs while you are playing.

If you look at films of Horowitz, Rubinstein, Arrau, etc., they are in total control of every movement they make while playing a piece.

If you desire further information, you may access, through most libraries or Amazon, Dr. Mark's book, "What Every Pianist Needs To Know About The Body."

Having been taught the mental conditioning of relaxation, early on, you are way ahead of the game, when it comes to performing at a very high level.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197238
12/13/13 09:45 PM
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Ok, thanks for the advice! I will be sure to buy the book.

Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: Louis Podesta] #2197240
12/13/13 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Podesta
[quote=A Guy]One thing my coach, Thomas Mark (www.pianomap.com) teaches in private lessons is that every movement for every piece should be choreographed just the way a dancer does.

That means that, specific to the morphology of not just your hands, but also your arms, shoulders, upper and lower body, you should make certain adjustments for each and every movement that occurs while you are playing.

Both of my most recent teachers teach this way as well. Not using that book though. Oddly this is a great process to go through in order to play relaxed and naturally!


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Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197300
12/14/13 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by A Guy
Originally Posted by Arghhh
No one has mentioned doing too many repetitions of something in one sitting. My teacher made a remark to me that the students of hers who ended up with injuries were often also the ones who practiced things obsessively (like trying to play a passage 10x perfectly, with multiple failures causing me to restart my counting at 1).

Oh... I actually do this quite a lot on difficult passages...


I suppose if you get through 10 perfectly on the first or second try, it wouldn't be that bad. But if you're like me, I find that I don't have the focus necessary to get through 10 and often ended up doing probably 60 attempts at once. My recent practice is to do 3 perfectly, and then come back multiple times in my practice session for 3 more. I'm not positive this is a better method, but it makes sense to me...


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Injury cause and prevention [Re: A Guy] #2197437
12/14/13 12:11 PM
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I agree with ChopinAddict. Watch Freeing the Caged Bird by Barbara Lister-Sink. I am currently studying with her and she definitely knows what she is talking about. Her DVD lists the common causes of injury and how to prevent/correct those habits. Hope this helps!

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