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Camptodactyly in an early advanced student #2885244
08/30/19 03:22 PM
08/30/19 03:22 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 395
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Brinestone Offline OP
Full Member
Brinestone  Offline OP
Full Member
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Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 395
I have a 15yo student who has pretty bad camptodactyly on both pinkie fingers. In essense, she is unable to straighten them fully; they are permanently bent at the final knuckle, and her right pinkie also bends inward toward her hand slightly. She also has relatively small hands and not especially flexible ones. She finally gained her LH octave about a year ago and can s-t-r-e-t-c-h to reach a RH octave now, but she definitely can't do anything with a 1235 fingering if the 1 and 5 are an octave apart, and she can't, say, play an octave scale or toggle quickly between one note and another an octave higher. These are all things that my other students who are much younger can already do with no problem.

This particular student is a surprisingly mature pianist for her age. She plays with dexterity (except for this one problem), musicality, and care. She can read pretty much anything and can handle complicated rhythms and keys. She's ready for harder music, but it ALL requires octaves. Chopin occasionally has music that's approachable to her, and so does Bach (mainly because his music has fewer chords in general). But we're running out of appropriate repertoire.

At first I thought her hands would grow enough that she'd be able to do octaves eventually. I think she's probably nearly done growing at this point, though, and I can't hope for that anymore. She's done splints and stretching, I believe, with no noticeable result. The next option is surgery, but apparently, she may lose some range of motion in her fingers, which would cause different problems for a pianist.

I would greatly appreciate recommendations of composers or, preferably, specific pieces I can throw at her. She's a level 7-8 right now.


Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC
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Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student [Re: Brinestone] #2885249
08/30/19 03:32 PM
08/30/19 03:32 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,206
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Online happy
8000 Post Club Member
AZNpiano  Online Happy
8000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 8,206
Orange County, CA
Explore more Baroque music: Scarlatti, Couperin, Handel, Rameau, etc. You can spend a lifetime playing nothing but Baroque pieces.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student [Re: Brinestone] #2887052
09/04/19 11:12 PM
09/04/19 11:12 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,388
western MA, USA
hreichgott Offline
3000 Post Club Member
hreichgott  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,388
western MA, USA
Why not leave out one or the other notes of the octave, or roll it?

Another idea, while I'm not suggesting she stop studying piano, she might enjoy adding a secondary instrument or studying voice-- that's always good for advanced piano students to do anyway, and in this case it would give her a chance to study music without having to fight with her body in the same way all the time.

Last edited by hreichgott; 09/04/19 11:14 PM.

Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student [Re: Brinestone] #2887423
09/05/19 11:57 PM
09/05/19 11:57 PM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,214
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Candywoman Offline
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Candywoman  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,214
The solution is a technological one. She needs an alternate size piano. Start research with David Steinbuhler, developer of smaller piano keyboards.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGwGBozPJFg

I haven't the time to show more links but this is the boost she needs. Basically, with money and time, she will be able to buy a smaller sized keyboard to put in a grand piano. It's all still acoustic.

Last edited by Candywoman; 09/06/19 12:06 AM.
Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student [Re: Brinestone] #2887482
09/06/19 06:15 AM
09/06/19 06:15 AM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
malkin Offline
5000 Post Club Member
malkin  Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 5,444
*sigh* Salt Lake City
https://arts.unl.edu/music/news/wristen%E2%80%99s-new-book-provides-adaptive-strategies-small-handed-pianists


Learner
Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student [Re: Brinestone] #2887730
09/06/19 10:43 PM
09/06/19 10:43 PM
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,300
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
4000 Post Club Member
TimR  Offline
4000 Post Club Member
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Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,300
Virginia, USA
And if you're considering alternate technology, don't forget about the Wicki-Hayden key layout.


gotta go practice

Moderated by  Ken Knapp 

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