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Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: anamnesis] #2841785 04/23/19 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by anamnesis

The reason people "tire" out is that they are stuck in certain neuromuscular, movement patterns that they can't get out of and end up fighting with compensatory movements. These patterns also happen to desensitize you to even "noticing" all those subtle torso adjustments and their necessity by using a strategy of over-stabilization in a single sagittal plane at the cost of movement in frontal and transverse planes.


On boy do those movements take a lot of time and dedication to untrain. I've spent the last 2-3 years working on the near constant tendency of my left hand toward ulner deviation. Finally, I think I have it pretty much licked. It took a lot of effort though. Unfortunately, more than most pianist I've met seem to be willing to invest if they even happen to be sensitive to the issue.

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Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: OscoBosco] #2841787 04/23/19 08:17 PM
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There are concert pianists who don't avoid hitting the fallboard. Robert Estrin showed a picture of the fallboard from his father's Steinway. It looked like it was gouged almost half an inch deep in places. The old Knabe "Waterfall" fallboard like mine leans back at the top, which helps a lot.


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Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: MikeN] #2841794 04/23/19 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeN
Originally Posted by anamnesis

The reason people "tire" out is that they are stuck in certain neuromuscular, movement patterns that they can't get out of and end up fighting with compensatory movements. These patterns also happen to desensitize you to even "noticing" all those subtle torso adjustments and their necessity by using a strategy of over-stabilization in a single sagittal plane at the cost of movement in frontal and transverse planes.


On boy do those movements take a lot of time and dedication to untrain. I've spent the last 2-3 years working on the near constant tendency of my left hand toward ulner deviation. Finally, I think I have it pretty much licked. It took a lot of effort though. Unfortunately, more than most pianist I've met seem to be willing to invest if they even happen to be sensitive to the issue.


The reasons why this process can be difficult is highlighted by this quote from by Shirley Saharmann:

"Faulty training only accentuates the muscular and neurological contributions to habitual imbalance. Most often the faulty movement patterns are an exaggeration in one direction of a limitation in another direction."

The underlying implication here is that you have to get people back into a more "limited" state first before they can retrain the proper coordination. This has its own set of difficulties. But of course it's all going to be for naught if you don't find the correct coordination because you'll just end up going back to the faulty movement. I'd also like to emphasize the word "direction" in the above quote.

Translating this into more piano friendly terms, people will first need to identify (easier said than done) and give up all the mechanisms and strategies they are using for "accuracy" or even "expression" before they can even begin to replace it. Most pianists will refuse to do this because removing all traces of compensation requires returning to a state where they'll question how one can possibly even play at all with any semblance of control. One's skill at doing this entire process correlates with how well one can essentially re-write muscle memory. Again, a respect for "direction" is critical to doing this. More time spent on that word (as well as related words such as "orientation" and "timing") and less on body parts would probably do the piano community a world of good.

Last edited by anamnesis; 04/23/19 09:37 PM.
Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: OscoBosco] #2841828 04/24/19 02:56 AM
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Many people have contributed very good insights to this thread, especially those who pointed out that the shape of the the hand is determined by the notes you want to play in which succession.

I would like to add: The bigger the lever, the better the control over the hammer. It is therefore advantageous to touch the key as far to the front as possible. This means, the shape of your hand depends to a large extent on the length ratio between thumb and fingers.

Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: anamnesis] #2842003 04/24/19 04:25 PM
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MichaelJK Offline
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Originally Posted by anamnesis

Translating this into more piano friendly terms, people will first need to identify (easier said than done) and give up all the mechanisms and strategies they are using for "accuracy" or even "expression" before they can even begin to replace it. Most pianists will refuse to do this because removing all traces of compensation requires returning to a state where they'll question how one can possibly even play at all with any semblance of control. One's skill at doing this entire process correlates with how well one can essentially re-write muscle memory. Again, a respect for "direction" is critical to doing this. More time spent on that word (as well as related words such as "orientation" and "timing") and less on body parts would probably do the piano community a world of good.


This is exactly the problem, and it's a really big problem. I would estimate that 99.9% of the advice a typical piano teacher gives is given in complete ignorance of this problem.

It's a big problem, but it's not a HARD problem. Solving it only requires being willing to, as you say, "returning to a state where they'll question how one can possibly even play at all with any semblance of control." And that is a good way of putting it. It does feel like returning to a time in my life when I just didn't care about "control."

Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: pianoloverus] #2842005 04/24/19 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Personally, I don't have much use for concepts about how my hands should look at the piano. There was a time I was obsessed with this. Then, I realized that the task here is to get the key to go down at the right time, not to "look" a certain way.
But the whole idea of any technical approach or idea i(including flat vs. curved)is not how the hands look but how the technical approach aids what you want to be able to do at the piano.


Well, that's why I started by saying "Try it and see if it works better." wink

Re: Aren't flat fingers the secret? [Re: OscoBosco] #2842333 04/25/19 01:02 PM
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I have flat fingers - everyone from myself, my teachers, and people who watch me performing sees it. My childhood piano teachers used to give me hard time about it, especially on my pinky because it was always flat. It looks not "right" and it makes the finger weak.

It was decades later I realized I have "double joints" on my pinky so the finger can not stand up; it always curves outwardly. When I open my hand (playing octaves), it will be flat and I can't do anything about it.

Yes it has created quite a big challenge for me in voicing (using pinky such as Schubert Impromptu Op.90-3) and repeating fast octave runs. I just have to work around it and work harder. My current teacher was surprised I could make it work most of the time. It's all about practice I guess.

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