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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596567
12/20/16 03:56 PM
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My teaching has focused to a large extent on people with injuries. And even with that preponderance, I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context.

I have worked with many people with different kinds of physiological limitations, but never those described there.

Which makes me think two things. 1- these issues are really quite rare, and 2- people who have them are generally not encouraged to learn to play at the very outset of their studies. So they are weeded out right from the start, whether they could be taught to play with the right technical approach.


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: outo] #2596568
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Originally Posted by outo

They don't have to because their study focuses on hands and fingers which are necessary to play the piano. I am yet to read the study, but if it's competently done it answers the questions that were asked, nothing more.

One sentence:

For example, the muscle bellies of flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis and of extensor digitorum communis that act on different fingers are partially fused, so contraction in any one will produce some passive movement of the others.

Muscle Belly (or Muscle Body)
The whole unit of a skeletal muscle, the level of organization at which the muscle is named (eg biceps brachii, or pectoralis major). Muscle bellies of skeletal muscle can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have the same basic composition.

In human anatomy, the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP, Latin for "deep bender of the fingers") is a muscle in the forearm that flexes the fingers (also known as digits). It is considered an extrinsic hand muscle because it acts on the hand while its muscle belly is located in the forearm. Together the flexor pollicis longus, pronator quadratus, and flexor digitorum profundus form the deep layer of ventral forearm muscles.

Flexor Digitorum Superficialis

Flexor Digitorum Superficialis is sometimes also known as Flexor Digitorum Sublimis. It is one of the wrist flexor muscles found in the palm side of the forearm and wrist.

Extensor digitorum muscle: It arises from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, by the common tendon; from the intermuscular septa between it and the adjacent muscles, and from the antebrachial fascia. It divides below into four tendons, which pass, together with that of the extensor indicis proprius, through a separate compartment of the dorsal carpal ligament, within a mucous sheath. The tendons then diverge on the back of the hand, and are inserted into the middle and distal phalanges of the fingers in the following manner. [2]


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: laguna_greg] #2596571
12/20/16 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
My teaching has focused to a large extent on people with injuries. And even with that preponderance, I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context.

I have worked with many people with different kinds of physiological limitations, but never those described there.

Which makes me think two things. 1- these issues are really quite rare, and 2- people who have them are generally not encouraged to learn to play at the very outset of their studies. So they are weeded out right from the start, whether they could be taught to play with the right technical approach.

Finally, some sanity in this thread!


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596572
12/20/16 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
keystring: perfect example - Bach WTC fugue #4 - basic rep

[Linked Image]

How do you play the repeated f#a thirds while holding c# with your fifth finger?

edit: Actually, this is a poor example since one can rotate the hand about the 5th finger. I was thinking of the same measure but with the thumb holding the lower c# as well.


I have an answer for that. You let your arm play that repeated note for you, if the c# were in fact held.


Laguna Greg

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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596574
12/20/16 04:00 PM
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Elephant in the room: Organ technique and piano technique are worlds apart. While there are things in common, obviously, the skills needed to play a Bach fugue and to play a Chopin etude are for the most part worlds apart.


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: Gary D.] #2596576
12/20/16 04:02 PM
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And another thing:

"Therefore, regardless of the degree of training, not all musicians are capable of the same finger movements. "

While this is quite true, it misses a very important point. Namely, that it may be possible for those pianists to play the same textures anyway, using a different movement strategy.

This kind of myopia is is very common in scientific research, as the scientists think their studies have answered a "relevant" question for teachers and pianists. Except that they are not teachers, nor are they generally pianists of any degree of skill, so their questions ARE USUALLY THE WRONG ONES.

While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit.


Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/greg-dempster/34/325/6b9/ (my day job)
Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: Gary D.] #2596579
12/20/16 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.

One sentence:

For example, the muscle bellies of flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis and of extensor digitorum communis that act on different fingers are partially fused, so contraction in any one will produce some passive movement of the others.


Oops. That's a big elephant in the room.

The fact is that independence of the fingers is an unobtainable myth, and also not necessary to meet the demands of the literature.


Laguna Greg

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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: Gary D.] #2596603
12/20/16 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Elephant in the room: Organ technique and piano technique are worlds apart. While there are things in common, obviously, the skills needed to play a Bach fugue and to play a Chopin etude are for the most part worlds apart.


Are you and organist as well as a pianist? The skills learned on organ - legato playing using finger substitution, thumb scales and 45,45,45 scales have immensly improved my piano technique. I don't need or use sustain when the texture and sonority of the moment is better served by not using it.

I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

The skills needed to play a Bach fugue, IMO, is much greater than that required to play much of Chopin's repertoire. I say that based on the way Chopin's music lies so well under the hands - clearly written for the piano by a pianist, whereas much of Bach's music seems to be written from a more intellectual point of view such that the lines must go where they go, even if it makes the playing awkward. Bach occasionally added notes to lines where the movement or harmony required them that did not exist in the instrument.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596608
12/20/16 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

I take it you don't realize what you wrote comes across as condescending.


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: laguna_greg] #2596612
12/20/16 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by prout
keystring: perfect example - Bach WTC fugue #4 - basic rep

[Linked Image]

How do you play the repeated f#a thirds while holding c# with your fifth finger?

edit: Actually, this is a poor example since one can rotate the hand about the 5th finger. I was thinking of the same measure but with the thumb holding the lower c# as well.


I have an answer for that. You let your arm play that repeated note for you, if the c# were in fact held.


You would have to demonstrate that for me. I tried holding both C#4 and C#5 while playing the internal line which includes three F#4A4s, the third occurring while the 5th finger slides down from C#5 to B4. I could not do it by just lifting my arm. The slight weight required to hold C#4/C#5 requires that the repeated F#4A4s occur by releasing the slight tension required to play them. One does not have to lift the finger off the key, but, if the 5th finger cannot be contolled independently, to some extent, from the 4th finger, the 5th finger will relax along with the 4th finger, breaking the legato line.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: AZNpiano] #2596615
12/20/16 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by prout
I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

I take it you don't realize what you wrote comes across as condescending.


Oh, I know it comes across as condescending. I had to assume a pianist, on a piano forum, would be familier with the WTC. I explicity mentioned it regarding fugues, and gave two examples from the WTC. I did not, at any time, refer to Bach's copious organ literature comprising fugues, which are vastly easier to play, given that you have four, not two, limbs to execute the complex fugal patterns of the master.

edit: editorial

Last edited by prout; 12/20/16 05:58 PM.
Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: laguna_greg] #2596622
12/20/16 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
And another thing:

"Therefore, regardless of the degree of training, not all musicians are capable of the same finger movements. "

While this is quite true, it misses a very important point. Namely, that it may be possible for those pianists to play the same textures anyway, using a different movement strategy.

This kind of myopia is is very common in scientific research, as the scientists think their studies have answered a "relevant" question for teachers and pianists. Except that they are not teachers, nor are they generally pianists of any degree of skill, so their questions ARE USUALLY THE WRONG ONES.

While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit.


Greg,

I appreciate and admire the work you do helping injured pianists recover. Your knowledge and experience is incredibly useful and yiur contributions here add to our knowledge as well.

But, yours is not the only source. You say, on the one hand - "I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context." The article refers to very significant portions of the population that present deviation from 'normal'. It describes the interconnections of tendons and tendon sheaths as being so variable that the 'normal' description is invalid the the majority of the population.

But then you say "While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit."

These two statements are somewhat at odds. It could be, as you described earlier, that the students with a deficit are weeded out early on, so they don't present to you.


Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596633
12/20/16 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by prout

Are you and organist as well as a pianist?

No. I do not play organ.
Quote

The skills learned on organ - legato playing using finger substitution, thumb scales and 45,45,45 scales have immensly improved my piano technique. I don't need or use sustain when the texture and sonority of the moment is better served by not using it.

OK. But using that thinking anyone who specializes on playing Bach on the piano is also not playing organ, and I can tell you for a fact that Gould, for example, uses subtle pedaling in Bach, which is necessary on the piano.

I'm familiar with the thinking that we should be able to play anything without pedal, even if pedal is a key component of the playing, and I totally disagree with this thinking.
Quote

I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

You make a lot of assumptions, and the way you communicate is extremely condescending. Of course the WTC was not written for piano, and it's rather obvious that it is played a great deal on the piano today, most often on the modern piano.

But why in heaven's name would you jump to the conclusion that I don't play the WTC? I don't play it on organ. I don't play it on harpsichord or clavichord.
Quote

The skills needed to play a Bach fugue, IMO, is much greater than that required to play much of Chopin's repertoire.

I don't know why when people type "IMO" it immediately excuses any statement made next. Bach fugues, even the most simple ones, are not easy. I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible

But Chopin did not write easy music either, and comparing Bach to Chopin is a real apples to oranges comparison. I'm not even going there. I'll only say that the music of all the great composers is challenging, in different ways, and no one plays the music of all composers equally well.
Quote

I say that based on the way Chopin's music lies so well under the hands - clearly written for the piano by a pianist, whereas much of Bach's music seems to be written from a more intellectual point of view such that the lines must go where they go, even if it makes the playing awkward.

That is looking at the music of Bach through a 20th and 21st century lens.

If you cut your teeth on Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov, that music is going to feel more natural and more accessible. It will be what you know best.

If you work on Bach from the get-go, and that is what you most love, most likely you will be better at the skills necessary to play Bach.

I have one adult student who would play nothing but Bach for the rest of his life, if he could, and I'm 100% fine with that. It makes teaching him interesting. He plays Bach much better than Chopin.

If you are saying that playing most of the advanced music of Bach is extremely difficult, I'm going to agree with you in a heartbeat. If you are saying that Bach places specific demands on the hands and the brain that no other composer asks for, I'm going to agree with that.

But I'm not going to go farther than that. It's pointless.


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596716
12/20/16 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by prout

Greg,

I appreciate and admire the work you do helping injured pianists recover. Your knowledge and experience is incredibly useful and yiur contributions here add to our knowledge as well.



Prout, I know you do, and I'm very grateful for it. It's a level of acceptance and respect I don't always meet with out in the world.

Originally Posted by prout

But, yours is not the only source. You say, on the one hand - "I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context."


Oops, I didn't say that very well. Please do let me clarify, lest I risk making myself completely misunderstood.

My professional experience leads to believe in the rarity of these deficits. My clinical and field case files up to this point run into the thousands, with about a third of them being musicians. Also my clinical collaborators, doctors all with a few very fine and respected hand surgeons thrown in for color, have hardly ever reported or referred to a case of this kind to me, even in passing. And they've seen probably at least 10 times the number of cases I have, most likely more. I'm certain they must consult on cases like this, but they have never referred one to me professionally or even mentioned one in passing.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, the number of cases involved in my practice alonwe is statistically significant. Is it also meaningful? Maybe, maybe not as there is no randomization or control for these factors. It could be that none of those people live where I work! I'm not kidding. However, it does reinforce my perception that these deficits are indeed a rarity. and I also think that if any of the providers I know thought I could do their patients some good, they would have referred them to me. I ALSO know that it's MORE likely than not that I would have spotted the deficit before the doctors do or even the PTs. Medicine these days tends to be a reactive intervention than the other way around.

Originally Posted by prout

But then you say "While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit."


Prout, I'm sure you must be aware that the news of these kinds of structural deficits as recessive traits in the population is old. I first heard about this when I was in high school, in particular the sharing of the lifting tendons in the 4th fingers.

My first teacher in high school was an excellent teacher, who also knew about this deficit in 4th finger lifting. But knowing about it did not help her develop a teaching strategy to overcome it. Rather, it reinforced her very orthodox French/Russian technical approach, to overcome it with individuation, exercise and stretching. As did every other major teacher in my state.

Which does not work, as we now know categorically in the research. Doing too much of that was how I got injured as a teenager.

That's why I say that the mere knowledge of these problems is not enough to change our approach to teaching and intervention. There has to also be a breakthrough in theory that comes at the problem from the other end. Another way to say it, is that scientists have yet to come up with ways to avoid these problems including injury, despite their great understanding of the limitations themselves. That's not what they do, and it's not what they're good at. But there are a few music teachers who have, because that's how they see the problem.

Originally Posted by prout

These two statements are somewhat at odds. It could be, as you described earlier, that the students with a deficit are weeded out early on, so they don't present to you.


That could very well be the case, when it comes to playing an instrument. But it doesn't hold when it comes to typing, because the world now types and texts, including people who don't even have hands. It's the reason I've had the career I had. If congenital malformation of the forearm and its constituent parts was in any way a more common problem, I would have read, seen or heard something of it occupationally or industrially. And I haven't!

I can also say it this way: 5% of the population is truly a lot of people, as you say. But that still makes it very rare. It's like sickle cell anemia. Do you know any people who have it? I don't, and I know many, many people in the affected target populations. That doesn't mean that it doesn't affect a large number of people, because it does. However, it's still a small enough per cent of the population that the conditions seems quite rare.

Does any of this begin to answer any of your concerns?


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596737
12/21/16 01:21 AM
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Isn't it common sense that anyone can learn to play the piano if they have hands and enough fingers? But can anyone learn to play anything in the piano literature and play it as well?

I've had lessons with a few visiting teachers besides my own. They have not questioned my technique in playing the pieces I've played for them. But one of them said when I mentioned my inability to play RH octaves that It's because I have not studied with him. Thus claiming that he has some secret weapons my teacher hasn't. It took my teacher few years to admit defeat in this, we've tried everything but there's just no way to get around the structure problems in my hand and fingers. Since I can do 7ths just fine a smaller keyboard is the only option for me to play pieces where faking does not sound good enough. Maybe a casual listener could be fooled, but my own ears won't.

I've seen this kind of attitude with some teachers who teach at a higher level: If the student is unable to achieve the goals or is injured in trying to do the impossible, he can be discarded and the teacher never has to question his methods. Mostly these teachers only teach a selective bunch anyway, a student reaching that stage mostly has what it takes physically to play all kinds of material.

This may not feel important when teaching more basic material, but for some people what's conventional may be uncomfortable and create tension even then, so a good teacher should understand that there are differences and they can present individual problems that they may not have encountered before even if experienced. Instead of insisting the usual ways and exercises sometimes it's better to look for ways to compensate together with the student and in some cases just to drop some repertoire to avoid injury and frustration.

Last edited by outo; 12/21/16 01:22 AM.
Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596757
12/21/16 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by prout

Oh, I know it comes across as condescending. I had to assume a pianist, on a piano forum, would be familier with the WTC.

Yet you assumed I was not. Why?


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: outo] #2596758
12/21/16 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by outo
Isn't it common sense that anyone can learn to play the piano if they have hands and enough fingers? But can anyone learn to play anything in the piano literature and play it as well?

Even the greatest pianists all talked about not being able to play some things to their own satisfaction.
Quote

I've had lessons with a few visiting teachers besides my own. They have not questioned my technique in playing the pieces I've played for them. But one of them said when I mentioned my inability to play RH octaves that It's because I have not studied with him.

Don't you just love the arrogance? In other words, your own teachers is poor just because he didn't find a solution to a problem you have. frown


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Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596790
12/21/16 08:20 AM
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Answering Prout
First, thank you for responding to what I wrote. I must mention that you only responded to some of it, and the missing parts are ones I'd like to get back to, because they matter.

I am not against understanding anatomy and how the body works. What I wrote of (the part you addressed) is that this study focuses only on the hands. The purpose of the study itself is not that of helping musicians: it uses musicians as the best candidates for their study. But when they do talk of playing piano, it is totally hand oriented. Lifting the 5th finger high + "finger independence" are in there. You focused on that part of my answer, and I will get back to your musical example. smile I did read your proferred article. I would like you to do me the favour reading my post in its entirety. smile

Work has been done on the physical side of piano playing both in the open public through books, teachings, systems etc., and more invisibly by teachers with their private students. By now I've seen a fair bit of it. This kind of work does consider anatomy. The one important factor is that the piano is not just played with the fingers, and also wrong teaching or learning including a pure finger orientation does lead to injury. From here I can go to your example.

The Bach: From what I have managed to learn so far, I know that no joint anywhere in the body mechanism should be locked, and all should be free to move. I know that a held note should not be "held down" with force, and there should be a certain flexibility and looseness in those fingers, as well as the wrist not being locked. I know that when a finger lifts, there can be a certain amount of co-movement further in the hand, forearm, upper arm, which may be tiny and invisible but they are there --- there is a chicken or egg as to which lifts which. There is a certain "springiness". Keeping all this in mind, I played your example slowly, and I added your hypothetical lower C# being held. Since you didn't include a key signature I didn't know whether there was an A or A#, though the A(nat) accidental in the previous measure suggested it might be A#. I played it both ways. In so doing I allowed my thumb to be relaxed near the joint at the wrist, it had some looseness, and in the repeated F# A# (or F# A) the fingers raising happened with a slight up and down of the hand at the wrist both carrying and initiating the motion -- the deliberate looseness or springiness of 1 & 5 made this possible because if the non-finger portion of the hand is to move at all, the fingers must have some give. It sounds complicated in writing, of course.

There are some important points in what I have just described:
There are still some teachers who have students do "fingery" playing, whereby the hand itself tends to be rigid and unmovable; some do know the wrist should be loose but create conditions that cause the opposite, while others don't know it. Some students just end up being "all fingers" along with motionless arms and hands, because they don't know otherwise. Some accidentally fall into healthy movement, without having been guided in that direction, neither directly, nor indirectly.

2. FINGER INDEPENDENCE: As the article says, the fingers like to move together. In piano playing there are notes played by individual fingers separately, and sometimes a note is held down by one finger while other fingers play. What do we do with that? One approach is to i) fight nature, trying to get a finger to lift and drop while keeping all the others still. There are exercises for that. In those exercises, "lifting high" is sometimes included - when the article mentions it I wondered if anyone in the team was thinking of the older version of the Hanon approach. This has been discussed often. Or ii) to work with nature In this case you allow the co-movement to happen. At least you don't restrain or lock down on the other fingers. It can be a microscopic thing, and if you are an experienced player as you seem to be, you may be doing this subconsciously. Btw, as soon as you allow the other fingers to not be clamped down against their nature, there will also be some micro-movement of the hand, freedom of the wrist, etc.

I don't know if what I've been trying to say has come across. It is this: there is a bigger picture than the hand and fingers, and you cannot isolate the hand and fingers when considering the playing mechanism. In fact, such isolation is known to create problems.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: prout] #2596825
12/21/16 11:22 AM
12/21/16 11:22 AM
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2nd part - "science", "instinct", "methodologies" - someplace in there. I've never tried to put these ideas together before, so bear with me.

Idea 1: Playing is not black and white, and there is no absolute roadmap. It is a complex activity, and some principles may actually appear to contradict each other.

Idea 2: Take the above idea that in playing, not only the fingers are involved, but the whole body is. Add to this that playing involves movement, different kinds of movement; the directing of forces, the balancing of the body, things like rotation, up and down, forward and back, etc. etc. This means that an aware teacher is doing more than trying to get a student to lift finger 5 high up in the air, or other finger elements. It means that the teacher has a lot of options at his disposal. Supposing that a student has ligaments that are different as in the article (was it 5%) - then this teacher will be trying the whole gamut of these options until finding something that works for this student. If a student is missing some ranges of motion for whatever reason, then an astute teacher will be drawing on his whole arsenal. He doesn't have to look at an x-ray to know it's missing; and there are other things besides what was listed in the article.

"Instinct": When this means an unaware maybe inexperienced teacher is wildly winging it; or someone who plays well but doesn't know how also wildly wings it - and they call it "instinct" - then no, that's not great. But there can also be the teacher who has a vast array of awareness and knowledge from his own studies (playing) and experiences, having observed others, having solved problems with previous students, and who then draws on the entire toolbox that he possesses. This actually carries the component of knowledge, including anatomical knowledge and the knowledge of movement at the instrument. The problem with this word is that it will mean a different thing from teacher to teacher. Again, nothing is black and white.

"Science": I am ambivalent about it. Some knowledge of the scientific variety has helped me personally. I have also experienced a kind of tunnel-visioning and mis-application of knowledge, and have experienced harm because of it (when it was taught along those lines).

"Methodology": Meaning anything that gets taught. One might be the old system of penny on the hand keeping it absolutely still while hammering down with highly raised fingers and aiming for a particular version of "finger independence". Another might be a school of "complete relaxation" to the point of limpness. Another might be insistence that arm rotation solves everything. As soon as there are rigid methodologies or those that are not suitable to that student at that time, these also play a role that can be negative.

All of these things interplay.


Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically [Re: Gary D.] #2596834
12/21/16 11:44 AM
12/21/16 11:44 AM
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Joined: Aug 2004
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Virginia, USA
Originally Posted by Gary D.
I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible


Thought it was just me.


gotta go practice
Page 2 of 3 1 2 3

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