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Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
JohnSprung #2720763 03/12/18 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

The flying 5 and curled 5 are bad habits -- very minor ones for some pianists, including Horowitz. Others get tension and cramps. Better to avoid than to emulate....


I've heard that claim again and again but never have I seen anything to actually prove it. I say some curling is inevitable for some hand types, you are free to prove me wrong if you can.

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2720784 03/12/18 04:24 PM
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Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2720789 03/12/18 04:38 PM
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I'm quite sure other professional pianists are curlers but perhaps not as much as much as Mr. H because I remember noticing this in videos. Can anyone think of other curlers and post a video?

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2720820 03/12/18 06:44 PM
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Horowitz probably just had more separation of the flexor tendons for his pinky than most.

There is a lot of individual variation. Some people are even missing one of the flexor tendons (the superficialis) for the pinky, which means that they cannot flex at the proximal joint (PIPJ) without also flexing the distal joint, because they only have the flexor digitorum profundus for that finger. In other words, they cannot make their pinky look like two sides of a rectangle - it's only either curled or straight.

Oops, just discovered that I'm missing flexor digitorum superficialis on both my pinkies...... cry


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Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
JohnSprung #2720863 03/12/18 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Seen that video before. It proves nothing.

There are a lot of professional pianists that curl their pinky when playing certain passages, some of them famous for their playing ability. Their pinky is not curled stiff and not all the time (that would be a problem and bad habit indeed). Not able to post video links with this device, maybe later.

Horowitz had a very personal way of playing, I would not try that ag home. There are others with a more "normal" playing technique. Look at Angela Hewitt playing Bach fof example.

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
bennevis #2720864 03/12/18 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Horowitz probably just had more separation of the flexor tendons for his pinky than most.

There is a lot of individual variation. Some people are even missing one of the flexor tendons (the superficialis) for the pinky, which means that they cannot flex at the proximal joint (PIPJ) without also flexing the distal joint, because they only have the flexor digitorum profundus for that finger. In other words, they cannot make their pinky look like two sides of a rectangle - it's only either curled or straight.

Oops, just discovered that I'm missing flexor digitorum superficialis on both my pinkies...... cry


So are you a curler? smile

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
outo #2720878 03/13/18 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by bennevis
Horowitz probably just had more separation of the flexor tendons for his pinky than most.

There is a lot of individual variation. Some people are even missing one of the flexor tendons (the superficialis) for the pinky, which means that they cannot flex at the proximal joint (PIPJ) without also flexing the distal joint, because they only have the flexor digitorum profundus for that finger. In other words, they cannot make their pinky look like two sides of a rectangle - it's only either curled or straight.

Oops, just discovered that I'm missing flexor digitorum superficialis on both my pinkies...... cry


So are you a curler? smile

No, I can't curl like Horowitz. (Not that I'd want to - I have a feeling that my teachers would have had something to say about that if I did happen to do it as a student.)

In fact, as soon as I flex my pinky beyond 50Ëš at the MCPJ, my ring finger starts flexing in sympathy too. Still, at least, I can use that as an excuse for why I sometimes hit an extra note with my 4th finger, turning the chord into a jazzy 7th chord...... wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2720880 03/13/18 02:26 PM
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OT but after the update there are these big letters in the top corner of the posts...I could not help looking for words forming from in the succession and what do I see...

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
outo #2720884 03/13/18 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by outo
OT but after the update there are these big letters in the top corner of the posts...I could not help looking for words forming from in the succession and what do I see...


ha


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Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2721016 03/14/18 02:02 AM
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It is part of a tradition.

Compare Hofmans book on piano playing.

It does give a certain stability to the other fingers, just like curling the middle fingers gives a certain stability to the hand when you play an octave (and you see some pianists doing that).

[Linked Image]

Last edited by Austerlitz; 03/14/18 02:07 AM.
Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
Austerlitz #2721065 03/14/18 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Austerlitz
It is part of a tradition.
Compare Hofmans book on piano playing.
It does give a certain stability to the other fingers, just like curling the middle fingers gives a certain stability to the hand when you play an octave (and you see some pianists doing that).
[Linked Image]
I'm not too convinced from that photo. Hofmann may just have been arguing against a flying 5th finger(as in the first photo) so he curled his fifth finger a little more to show the difference. Or that may just be how his fifth finger worked, somewhat curled although it doesn't appear nearly as curled as Horowitz's fifth finger.

I'm convinced from the way my own hand works that many people can't curl their fifth finger very much without losing the ability to play with their fourth finger and even their third finger.

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2721083 03/14/18 09:16 AM
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Yeah perhaps.

But curling the 5th (and 4th) finger is a pedagogical technique that has been used (and still is sometimes, hermit crab)

With 4th and 5th curled you played scales 123 123. Then curling only 5th you play 12312341231234.

In the Hofman picture you see him slightly curling the 4th as well, creating a gripping feeling with 123.

If Horowitz curled finger is a remnant of having practiced like that I have no idea. Might be, might be just his anatomy.


Last edited by Austerlitz; 03/14/18 09:28 AM.
Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2721101 03/14/18 10:29 AM
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To make things more complicated there are different ways of "curling". In fact I do not curl my 5th, it just takes that shape automatically when it's lifted in a relaxed way. The flying pinky I cannot do at all...or at least not without terrible tension. when one is hybermobile the fingers can take weird shapes without any extra tension. I can easily twist my pinky 90 degrees up.

The guy in the video talks about things that in some cases are an issue: If you do not use the arm and center your hand it does cause extra tension and all sorts of twisting. What he seems not to know much about is anatomical variation and the effect of hand shape and size to optimal technique.

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
Austerlitz #2721150 03/14/18 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Austerlitz
Yeah perhaps.

But curling the 5th (and 4th) finger is a pedagogical technique that has been used (and still is sometimes, hermit crab)

With 4th and 5th curled you played scales 123 123. Then curling only 5th you play 12312341231234.

In the Hofman picture you see him slightly curling the 4th as well, creating a gripping feeling with 123.

If Horowitz curled finger is a remnant of having practiced like that I have no idea. Might be, might be just his anatomy.

That video suggestion seems to be only for trying to cure students who have a continuously very straight or flying(sticking up in the air) 5th finger. I don't think it's meant at all to be a way to play the piano on a permanent basis. I don't think there's the slightest advantage to extreme curling like Horowitz and possibly a disadvantage. I also don't think anyone curls on purpose:it's just the natural way their hand works.

I, and I think most people, couldn't play scales with 1234 and a curled 5th finger because my 4th finger automatically curls when I curl my 5th finger.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/14/18 01:51 PM.
Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2721154 03/14/18 02:15 PM
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I noticed Kissin's 5th finger is curled too.

I have the different kind of problem. My pinky finger has "double joint" so it's constantly flat and curled outward. When I hit a key, especially when I try to play octaves, my 5th finger automatically curls outward. If I were a kid just starting lessons, I probably would have got into lots of trouble for bad hand positions because of that. As a result, it is harder for me to voice a phrase when 5th finger has melody - which happens all the time. Over the year I have learned to work harder to compensate that but it's a constant struggle for me. My teacher is amazed that I could overcome this and sound as good as everyone else.

Everyone is different I guess.

Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
Midlife_Piano #2721168 03/14/18 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Midlife_Piano
I noticed Kissin's 5th finger is curled too.
To some extent, but not nearly as much as Horowitz. One can see this in this video, especially when he plays the second movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2beoK2wSng

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/14/18 03:03 PM.
Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
Midlife_Piano #2721172 03/14/18 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Midlife_Piano
I noticed Kissin's 5th finger is curled too.

I have the different kind of problem. My pinky finger has "double joint" so it's constantly flat and curled outward. When I hit a key, especially when I try to play octaves, my 5th finger automatically curls outward. If I were a kid just starting lessons, I probably would have got into lots of trouble for bad hand positions because of that. As a result, it is harder for me to voice a phrase when 5th finger has melody - which happens all the time. Over the year I have learned to work harder to compensate that but it's a constant struggle for me. My teacher is amazed that I could overcome this and sound as good as everyone else.

Everyone is different I guess.


My pinky is like yours. With practice I have learned to curve it by will when I want to bring out a note and I don't need to reach. But octaves are always a problem because my thumb does the same thing and my hand is small.

It also snaps nastily If I forget to prepare it and drop on it...

Last edited by outo; 03/14/18 03:11 PM.
Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2721199 03/14/18 04:51 PM
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I just play as comfortably as I can. No curling, no flying.


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Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
pianoloverus #2721238 03/14/18 07:49 PM
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It's a tension thing. He only does it at certain moments though and is relaxed in general. It doesn't seem to be getting in his way wink


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Re: Horowitz's curled 5th finger
JohnSprung #2721267 03/14/18 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

I just play as comfortably as I can.


So do I and I am sure Mr. H did as well. If you do not need to curl your finger ever, then don't.

I spend quite a lot of investigating on this phenomena years ago because I got a little obsessed with the way my pinky looked. I read everything I could find on hand morphology and anatomical differences and also discussed it with several experienced piano teachers as well as my own. After all that it became clear that it is not something that can or should be changed. I got problems with my hands and wrists when I tried and at some point my teacher just told me to stop fuzzing over it. If it ain't broken, do not try to fix it.

But it does surprise me sometimes how little many teachers actually know about these things and tend to focus only on the way the students hands look. It can cause a lot of tension to try to make your hands into a shape that is unnatural for them and this type of tension you cannot necessarily see.

Last edited by outo; 03/14/18 10:48 PM.
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