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My stubborn wrists😊 #2844995 05/04/19 05:29 AM
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Broqueville Offline OP
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Hi everyone,
Some background first: female, 52, no prior music experience whatsoever! But since inheriting my mother's 1890s Weber piano last year, I had an overwhelming urge to learn. The Weber was assessed professionally and deemed beyond repair😕
So, with the help of my teacher, I recently bought a Yamaha clavinova CLP625 and love it!!
I have a weekly lesson (4 so far) and can say without doubt that learning piano (and learning to read music) is the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever attempted! But, it is also the most absorbing and exciting! The hour spent with my teacher feels like 5 minutes and is way cheaper than therapy😁
However, one area I am struggling with is keeping my wrists down and feeling my arm weight.
I am thinking of attaching weights of some kind to my wrists. This morning I filled socks with coins but even then my wrists were resistant!
I'd be interested to know if other beginners have struggled with this and how they overcame it.
Thanks so much in advance for any tips.
Love the website.

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Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2844998 05/04/19 05:58 AM
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I'm starting over and determined to get it right from start.

See if anything here might help you in finding not so tense approach.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNGHTOV9XVA&list=LLkfiIqVBjtIA2OgVtN9RoGQ&index=2&t=0s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew4PUlVJuGc&list=LLkfiIqVBjtIA2OgVtN9RoGQ


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Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845005 05/04/19 06:20 AM
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Morodiene Offline
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Welcome to the forum and to piano! Congrats on the Yamaha purchase too. smile

It is very difficult at first, but give it some time and things will become easier. Be patient with yourself and it seems like you are enjoying the process, so that's awesome to have that attitude.

Tension while playing in various ways are an issue every pianist has to deal with, so it's very normal for you to have issues. Please do not attach weights to your wrists! You have only been taking for a month, and this kind of thing takes time and lots of practice. So when you are playing, work on pieces or simple exercises like a 5-finger pattern (C_D_E_F_G_F_E_D_C) and focus entirely on what your wrists are doing. They need to move and be flexible on each note you play. Also, try to discover where exactly in your body your are holding onto tension. Momentary tension is fine, but tension that stays is often the root of the problem.

Be sure that you express how things are feeling as specifically as you can to your teacher as this will help her understand better what's going on and be able to help you improve.


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Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845006 05/04/19 06:21 AM
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When I started there were 2 main hand position errors; low left wrist and extending pointer fingers. My teacher showed me how they should be and told me that when I notice they are in the wrong position to correct them. I paid particular attention to those while I did my warm up every day and, corrected them when I noticed them going astray during practice. It took me a few months to get them 'much better'. I am still working on tension related issues in the hands and arms. Just becoming aware of the issues and conscientiously relaxing during practice is how I am slowly improving. Good Luck! ----oh, and learning piano is ridiculously hard - patience is key


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Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845036 05/04/19 08:21 AM
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Welcome to the ABF. Listent to Morodiene. She's a teacher and a good one. You might like to read through this recent thread on Ways of addressing the issue of tension in piano playing. for more tips.


Originally Posted by Broqueville
....and can say without doubt that learning piano (and learning to read music) is the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever attempted! But, it is also the most absorbing and exciting! .....
You've summarized all of piano in a few sentences. Knowing that learning piano is challenging but rewarding is a good step towards your goal!


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In summer, the song sings itself. --William Carlos Williams

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845110 05/04/19 11:30 AM
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Being relaxed when you play is key to the body falling into place.

Kenny Werner in a recent talk from his classes said when working on exercises that you have to repeat multiple times to pause, take your hands off the instrument, before beginning again. People are saying they are getting better results than when just plowing thru doing something over and over and getting tense.

Makes sense to me to mental resets for a second, before repeating. Another teacher Howard Roberts I had mentioned taking hands off the instrument with pausing or taking a break. Playing requires focus but relaxed body so need to be able to control both and taking hands off for a second helps learn to control it.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845112 05/04/19 11:37 AM
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Hi there!

I'm a piano teacher in two universities and in a school, so I teach beginner to degree level, and I have to say from the post I don't know exactly what you mean.

How high are your wrists? In what way do they need to be lower? That might be a better place to start than trying to give advice without knowing what position we are trying to correct.

Hope that helps?
J

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845131 05/04/19 12:32 PM
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I'm bothered by the idea of wanting to keep one's wrists down or any position.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845132 05/04/19 12:33 PM
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Animisha Online Content
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Hi Broqueville, welcome to this forum!
One of the videos that we regularly recommend to each other on this forum is this one:
.
It might help you with your wrists. cool


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
*
... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Animisha] #2845135 05/04/19 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Hi Broqueville, welcome to this forum!
One of the videos that we regularly recommend to each other on this forum is this one:
.
It might help you with your wrists. cool


I don't particularly think this video should be recommended without caveats.

Elsewhere, someone posted this video, and I posted my thoughts on it:

Just skimming that video, I'm not a huge fan. It embodies many of the flaws of certain arm weight and relaxation approaches that just leads to an endless merry-go-round of tension-relaxation the moment you start getting into more difficult repertoire, try to obtain higher levels of tonal and timing control, or face increasingly difficult performance situations.

It's not just the exaggeration. I might be okay with the first step, which I already take issue with but can see some rationale for, but the follow-up doesn't fix it at all as a progression. He consistently ends up aiming "too low" and having to rescue a bunch of fulcrums. Just looking at the video, you might not have forearm or hand pain, but I just see shoulder, neck, and upper back issues in the future.

You'll also never quite experience a moment of "perfect" repose on each note that allows you to work out the timing of a single note/articulation versus the timing of getting form note to note because you spend so much effort trying to get back in equilibrium (if you even manage to do so) in the sagittal plane. It either leads to sloppiness, or in attempts to fix that sloppiness you end up tense.

I've seen so many students coming from this sort of arm use background that just end up on the tension-relaxation merry-go-round or end up having to curtail their ambitions and their choice of repertoire because they can't progress to more difficult works without some combination of pain/insecurity/sloppiness with this approach.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: joe80] #2845164 05/04/19 02:38 PM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
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Originally Posted by joe80
I don't know exactly what you mean.

How high are your wrists? In what way do they need to be lower? That might be a better place to start than trying to give advice without knowing what position we are trying to correct.

Agree. A little elaboration would be very helpful.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Animisha] #2845211 05/04/19 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Hi Broqueville, welcome to this forum!
One of the videos that we regularly recommend to each other on this forum is this one:
.
It might help you with your wrists. cool


Personally I don't like this video. He's using way too much weight, too much tension and relaxation, very little balance, way too much upper arm, etc. I don't really see how you can build a solid technique on this. There's no sense of balance or measure. There are some things he's pointing out which are good, of course, but then he kind of throws it all away.

For a start, you don't really want your full upper arm weight in the key, and if you put all that weight through the wrist in the manner he is doing, you're likely to end up with pain. Watch the greatest of the great pianists and you'll not see this kind of playing.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845268 05/04/19 09:23 PM
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Depends which "school" of playing you come from as well.

Look at Hamelin, then look at Lisista. Two completely different ways of using the arm weight and fingers. Well, to my eye anyway.

Indeed, Horowitz. Another very finger orientated player.

Raising the question - are you an arm player or finger player? Of course both use both, but in different proportions.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845325 05/05/19 03:51 AM
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May I suggest that it all depends on a whole variety of physical and mental attributes. Are you an ectomorph, an endomorph, or a mesomorph? Do you have double joints? Maybe tight ligaments like I do? Are you an anxious person? And so on, an on and on. There must be many more possible combinations than all the pianos that have ever been made. We all have to work out what is best for us, maybe with help from teachers, etc.


Roland LX7

South Wales, UK
Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: joe80] #2845336 05/05/19 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by joe80
Originally Posted by Animisha
Hi Broqueville, welcome to this forum!
One of the videos that we regularly recommend to each other on this forum is this one:
.
It might help you with your wrists. cool


Personally I don't like this video. He's using way too much weight, too much tension and relaxation, very little balance, way too much upper arm, etc. I don't really see how you can build a solid technique on this. There's no sense of balance or measure. There are some things he's pointing out which are good, of course, but then he kind of throws it all away.

For a start, you don't really want your full upper arm weight in the key, and if you put all that weight through the wrist in the manner he is doing, you're likely to end up with pain. Watch the greatest of the great pianists and you'll not see this kind of playing.

I agree again and generally it seems to me that Zach Evans' video series is one of the worst.

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2845339 05/05/19 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I agree again and generally it seems to me that Zach Evans' video series is one of the worst.

Okay my friends! I found this video very helpful but I promise you, I won't refer to it anymore. smile


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
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... feeling like the pianist on the Titanic ...
Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Animisha] #2845346 05/05/19 05:27 AM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
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Originally Posted by Animisha
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I agree again and generally it seems to me that Zach Evans' video series is one of the worst.

Okay my friends! I found this video very helpful but I promise you, I won't refer to it anymore. smile

smile
It's not your fault. As I just said in another thread everone of us has to find solution that works best for him or for her. If it works for you, it's good!

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845350 05/05/19 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Broqueville
However, one area I am struggling with is keeping my wrists down and feeling my arm weight.
I am thinking of attaching weights of some kind to my wrists.

Two problems:
- "arm weight" is an elusive abstract idea that can lead to all kinds of confusing associations. I sometimes wonder how many teachers using the term actually know what they are talking about.
- Any idea that any part of the body should be "kept" anywhere is going to create problems. The entire body works together; all joints must be free to move "at least a little bit". Your wrists are joints, and joints are mobile, responsive, directive, and if you are being told to keep them anywhere, then you are creating something static - that is the antithesis of the mobility of this wonderful joint.

I highly recommend that you go to this site, and follow all the lessons in the section "how the body works", including doing the exercises (to find out how the body works wink ... on piano). This will at least help you put into perspective any advice you get about wrists and so on.
https://piano-ology.com/course-outline/piano-technique/

Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2845381 05/05/19 09:08 AM
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by joe80
Originally Posted by Animisha
Hi Broqueville, welcome to this forum!
One of the videos that we regularly recommend to each other on this forum is this one:
.
It might help you with your wrists. cool


Personally I don't like this video. He's using way too much weight, too much tension and relaxation, very little balance, way too much upper arm, etc. I don't really see how you can build a solid technique on this. There's no sense of balance or measure. There are some things he's pointing out which are good, of course, but then he kind of throws it all away.

For a start, you don't really want your full upper arm weight in the key, and if you put all that weight through the wrist in the manner he is doing, you're likely to end up with pain. Watch the greatest of the great pianists and you'll not see this kind of playing.

I agree again and generally it seems to me that Zach Evans' video series is one of the worst.

See, I get what he's trying to say. And he did state this is an *exaggeration* at least a couple of times. Often, when students are on one end of a spectrum of tension, you must get them to try and get to the opposite end. Often they will not go far enough and wind up in the middle - right where you want them.

But some students will go too far and take it to a conclusion you did not want. Also, when he plays the chords at the end, he is doing other things that he doesn't detail, and that can be a problem. I also think he's very tense throughout the whole thing, so I'm not sure he really modeled the concept well. But he does have the basic concepts there, so it certainly may be helpful for some.


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Re: My stubborn wrists😊 [Re: Broqueville] #2845388 05/05/19 09:15 AM
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Having seen him play, I can assure you he does not have a well-organised technique.

Arm-weight IS a thing in technique, and it's an important thing. It's therefore important to get it right. You can't just say "use arm weight" without knowing what it actually is, and what it isn't.

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