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Camptodactyly in an early advanced student
#2885244 08/30/19 03:22 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
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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.


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Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student
Brinestone #2885249 08/30/19 03:32 PM
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Explore more Baroque music: Scarlatti, Couperin, Handel, Rameau, etc. You can spend a lifetime playing nothing but Baroque pieces.


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Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student
Brinestone #2887052 09/04/19 11:12 PM
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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
Brinestone #2887423 09/05/19 11:57 PM
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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
Brinestone #2887482 09/06/19 06:15 AM
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https://arts.unl.edu/music/news/wristen%E2%80%99s-new-book-provides-adaptive-strategies-small-handed-pianists


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Re: Camptodactyly in an early advanced student
Brinestone #2887730 09/06/19 10:43 PM
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And if you're considering alternate technology, don't forget about the Wicki-Hayden key layout.


gotta go practice

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