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KurtZ Offline OP
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Do you release the hand when you play alternating octaves or do you leave the hand open "covering" the whole span. I've had a LOT of wrist issues and I'm loathe to play with the inherent tension that leaving my hand stretched out invokes. Unfortunately for me, I want to play blues and octave patterns are unavoidable. I once saw an old russian fella on the Santa Monica Promenade playing Stride on a beat up old upright (busking). He had these chubby little hands but made the octaves look effortless without leaving the hand expanded. It just bounced back and forth, never missing the chord change. THAT's the technique I want. Any hints on how to get it?

TIA

Kurt


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"Leaving the hand open" and the fact of a question asking whether you relax between successive octaves already gives a feeling that you're creating tension. Your hand should not become "fixed" in any position, so I'd think that there should be some kind of release between each octave.

I've only done the Chopin Cm Prelude, and this was early on. At the time I adopted a feeling of the hand becoming dripping wax after each chord - or was that is becoming warm - and that helped me tremendously. No idea if the image is legit.

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What do you mean by alternating octaves?


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You can still hold your octave hand position while lifting with a released and relaxed wrist. lifting from your wrist was suggested to me and I have found that lifting in this manner relaxes the whole arm and shoulder as well has the hand.


Enjoy


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If you post a video, I'd be happy to take a look. But it's difficult to respond based on what's written in a post.


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Derelux, I think you're right. If I decide to revisit the topic. I'll put together a video (which I've never done let alone get it to show up on PW)

My hand in an open but still relaxed position spans a seventh. I have to push a bit to cover an octave and a ninth is out of the question. If I play slow scales in octaves and use Dave's lift technique, I can stay pretty relaxed but when the octaves alternate as in rock and roll or boogie woogie patterns my hand starts to tire and I can feel tension running up the arm and have to stop. Now it's possible, because I have spine, shoulder, elbow and wrist troubles as well as some carpal tunnel, that the problem is moving down the arm and not up. Yes, I've seen doctors and I'm waiting for results from a blood test.

There's a teacher not far from me who does Taubman/Golandsky style technique. Some of the old-timers here may remember when he posted here. Neil OS? I may have to pay him a visit and revisit my technique from top to bottom if that what it takes to keep playing as I hurtle into middle-age. Until then, I'll keep it slow, go easy and do no harm.

Kurt



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No worries, do what you feel is right. If you decide to post a video, youtube is a very good platform. You can make the video private and then provide us with a link.

I'm guessing, when you play the bass line, that you keep your wrist/arm in one relative place and just move your fingers. It's very common, creates a lot of stiffness, and can tire you out quickly.


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Derelux,

I'm experimenting with using more forearm rotation. I'm also doing slow scales in octaves to work on loosening up the tendons. Won't know more for a while.

Kurt


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That could be a good thing, but it could also be describing exactly what I mentioned. When you rotate, does your arm stay in one place, or does it move? Do your fingers move? Does the weight of your arm shift left/right? Or is your hand "open"/"spanned" the entire time?


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Do you mean broken octaves?

Watch this video and tell me what you think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lChrW-2ikCY

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This sounds like a hand-size problem, not a problem of technique.

To play an octave successfully, your hands really should be able to reach a 9th (or more) when stretched to the max. If your hands are just barely playing an octave, then you might have to reconsider your repertoire choices.

Hand size is not something that Taubman can fix. You'll be instructed to use 1-5 on all octave passages, but if playing an octave itself causes physical strain, then Taubman won't be able to fix your problem.

I have been blessed with a bunch of students with tiny hands. It really makes me re-think the way I teach (I can reach an 11th). I've made many alterations (removing notes, re-distributing notes between hands, cheating) so that students can negotiate problematic octave passages.


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Right and wrong movement can look exactly the same; so secret octave playing is not in imitation the positions of another's hands, but in the use of anatomical - physiological structure of own hands.

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[Linked Image]

The first image shows the "How correctly to keep a hand and fingers." The second image teaches nothing: just the hand of Yakov Zak on the table.
You can clearly see that the natural shape of the hand does not shell, as they call it, but composed of two parts: the thumb and the rest of the group, freely directed towards the pinky. This is the most natural position for the octave: the index finger, and therefore also wrist, the most freed , the distance between tips of outside finger - the maximum, more than shell (I have a difference of 0.5 cm).






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There is more than the size of the hand. For example, my hand is flexible, maybe because I played a lot of classical guitar when younger, or maybe because I got interested in yoga as a teen. My pinky and thumb can span out from the hand almost in a 180 degree straight line. So even though I'm 5'7" with a smaller hand, I have a larger span because of the flexibility.

Btw, it's not just the thumb that has extra sideways flexibility - the pinky has something extra in the anatomy, though not nearly as much as the thumb ofc.

There are other factors. If you try to "curl" the tips of your fingers, then you shorten your span. If you reach from the thumb-side, um, sort of tipping down at the thumb and reaching across, you'll get less of a span. If you reach from the pinky side and tip more from there, your span expands. In fact, the picture of Yakov Zak shows exactly that tipping.

In going from octave to octave you should not keep your hand "tensed in octave position". I don't do consecutive octaves yet but I know that much.

Tension or holding joints stiff anywhere in the arm, hand, or body will probably affect what you can do.

Like, there is a lot more than just how big your fingers are / how big your hand is.

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Do you mean something like jumping back and forth between G2-G3 and G1-G2 with the left hand? (That happens quite a bit in the best known work of Oliver Wallace, which I'm trying to learn at the moment.)
What works for me is to keep the hand relaxed, but in close to the needed span during the arm movements.



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Interesting discussion. My next unit of learning is octaves. I'll be curious as what my lesson book and teacher have to say about this.

Right now I'm finishing up one-handed arpeggios and I'm already spanning an octave from finger 1 to 5, however the technique I've been taught for this is to pivot on finger 3 in the right hand (finger 4 in the left hand) in order to comfortably play the highest notes. This avoids "reaching" for the highest note, however my wrist has to pivot back and forth to do this.


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Originally Posted by Tony Romo
Do you mean broken octaves?

Watch this video and tell me what you think:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lChrW-2ikCY


Yes, those except in the blues context of swung eighth notes. That is the kind of rotation I'll be experimenting with when I can play again. I have to be brief I shouldn't be typing.

Kurt


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Originally Posted by Derulux
Does the weight of your arm shift left/right? Or is your hand "open"/"spanned" the entire time?


That was sort of my original question. How much to leave the hand "spanned" Obviously to play simultaneous octave notes the hand has to be spanned but when you play "bounced/swung" eighth note octaves, there's time to let the hand close anywhere from "about" a seventh to all the way closed to thumb over the 5th.

At this point, the wrist is pretty buggered and I'm not actively playing. I'm not convinced my technique or lack thereof actually injured me but I am looking for tools to let me keep playing until I can get the tooth fixed, the weird growth under my arm cut out and then consider the carpal tunnel surgery.

Thanks to all for your contributions,

Kurt


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No one mentioned circles so let me just suggest it -- if I understand the pattern correctly, clockwise circles with the LH are a very comfortable way to play these. Use the most downward part of the circle to play the lower note. Your hand doesn't have to be stretched out the whole time, and the circular movement helps get your arm involved. Also a fun and rewarding way to get a nice accent on the lower note for the kind of rhythms you're playing.

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Originally Posted by KurtZ
Originally Posted by Derulux
Does the weight of your arm shift left/right? Or is your hand "open"/"spanned" the entire time?


That was sort of my original question. How much to leave the hand "spanned" Obviously to play simultaneous octave notes the hand has to be spanned but when you play "bounced/swung" eighth note octaves, there's time to let the hand close anywhere from "about" a seventh to all the way closed to thumb over the 5th.

At this point, the wrist is pretty buggered and I'm not actively playing. I'm not convinced my technique or lack thereof actually injured me but I am looking for tools to let me keep playing until I can get the tooth fixed, the weird growth under my arm cut out and then consider the carpal tunnel surgery.

Thanks to all for your contributions,

Kurt

Yep, that's one of the reasons I usually ask for a video in these cases.. when we get to nuance, it's very hard to type out an exact definition. smile


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Kurt,
Do you have dictation software you can use instead of typing? Mac systems now have built-in dictation that works pretty well, or you can buy the Dragon versions that have more features. I used dictation all the time when I had hand problems from typing--a great way to spare the hands (though you do need a private, quiet space for it).


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