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How to make thumb stronger? #2899787
10/13/19 01:12 PM
10/13/19 01:12 PM
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OscoBosco Offline OP
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Any exercises you guys know of to make the thumb stronger and hence more relaxed when playing? Thanks in advance!

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Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2899853
10/13/19 03:30 PM
10/13/19 03:30 PM
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I don't think one would want to strengthen the thumb; it's already the "heavy" in the partnership with the four fingers. What you may want is more flexibility of the thumb. There are myriad exercises using the passage of the thumb with varying "touches" (staccato, legato, slurred, etc.) under other fingers, some that are holding down notes, some that are not holding other notes.

Dohnanyi: Essential Finger Exercises; No. 14, for example
Czerny: 40 Daily Exercises, Op. 337; No. 7 ("Rotation and thumb crossings")
Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist, exercises 32 - 37 ("Turning the thumb under")

I am sure there are many more that a search may reveal.

Regards,


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Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: BruceD] #2899884
10/13/19 05:30 PM
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OscoBosco Offline OP
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Okay thanks for the input Bruce!

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2899908
10/13/19 07:08 PM
10/13/19 07:08 PM
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Two things that are great for your thumb are positioning your thumb with the arm (instead of reaching with the thumb), and avoiding anticipating with the thumb. It's natural for it to want to move by itself to the next note.

The second of these happens in ascending scales and arpeggios when your thumb wants to move towards its target note. To avoid this, you can practise by blocking the thumb with the index finger. Lift and reposition the arm for each note group, and moving the thumb into position using the arm.

Of course this is only advisable in fast scales and arpeggios, as you'll want to move the thumb under for slower passages. It's extraordinary how fast your arm can move when you practise playing this way.

If you keep the thumb and index finger touching, you will stop the thumb anticipating the next note.

Another idea is to play chromatic scales with the thumb only. Make sure the thumb is relaxed, and is moved into position by the arm.

To get the feel of a relaxed thumb, allow it to be completely limp, and curled ever so slightly inwards, and move your arm so you can play up and down the keyboard. Imagine the thumb as a passive extension of the arm.

The next stage is to move the thumb up and down. It's important to be able to separate vertical and lateral thumb movements. You can play the key by pressing the thumb down or forearm rotation. For lightning fast scales, large forearm rotations are not a good idea, but smaller rotations (whether they play much of a role in the actual playing of a note) can assist in coordination and timing.

Last edited by johnstaf; 10/13/19 07:17 PM.
Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2899913
10/13/19 07:20 PM
10/13/19 07:20 PM
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An example of rotations for timing is trilling between 2 and 3. I can feel the rotation, but the motion is clearly coming from my fingers, as my hand movements are nothing more than a small quiver. However, if I don't feel the rotation, the trill is tense and messy.

Last edited by johnstaf; 10/13/19 07:21 PM.
Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2899919
10/13/19 07:43 PM
10/13/19 07:43 PM
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Look at Kissin's live video of the Schumann Toccata. Notice the efficiency of his thumb movements. For some passages there seems to be no lateral thumb movement at all, even though his hands are changing position at lightning speed.


Last edited by johnstaf; 10/13/19 07:45 PM.
Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2901713
10/18/19 02:21 PM
10/18/19 02:21 PM
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Offline
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I played scales with my thumbs for several months, accentuating every nth note. And then some other simple patterns. Very efficient.

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2901718
10/18/19 02:26 PM
10/18/19 02:26 PM
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Good info all! Thanks.
My thumb is probably strong enough for all normal purposes, but it is clumsy and stupid.


Learner
Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2901883
10/18/19 11:12 PM
10/18/19 11:12 PM
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OscoBosco Offline OP
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Thank you guys! Will try this stuff out!

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2901933
10/19/19 06:20 AM
10/19/19 06:20 AM
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Great info and tips here! I need this too. For me the difficulty is getting the thumb to be light in tremolos, especially those moving up or down a scale, such as in Schubert's Der Zwerg (e.g. first few bars), or the octaves in Mozart's sonata K. 301 (first bar of the last system on page 3). (I'm sorry, I never seem to know how to insert an image into a post).

Any advice on how to obtain flexbility there? I'm never sure just how much rotation one needs to use, how much from the wrist or from the arm, and what the exact position of the thumb should be (I have small hands).


“Love has to be the starting point – love of music. It is one of my firmest convictions that love always produces some knowledge, while knowledge only rarely produces something similar to love.”
Arthur Schnabel

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2901998
10/19/19 09:29 AM
10/19/19 09:29 AM
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Making it stronger (something I've never heard of) is hardly going to help. Why don't you re-post a sensible question?

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: chopin_r_us] #2902069
10/19/19 12:17 PM
10/19/19 12:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 3,136
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Online content
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Making it stronger (something I've never heard of) is hardly going to help. Why don't you re-post a sensible question?



I thought it was a good question.


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Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: chopin_r_us] #2902077
10/19/19 01:07 PM
10/19/19 01:07 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
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Dublin
johnstaf Online crying
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Making it stronger (something I've never heard of) is hardly going to help. Why don't you re-post a sensible question?


Why don't you post a less condescending response?

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: Rania] #2902078
10/19/19 01:13 PM
10/19/19 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Rania
Great info and tips here! I need this too. For me the difficulty is getting the thumb to be light in tremolos, especially those moving up or down a scale, such as in Schubert's Der Zwerg (e.g. first few bars), or the octaves in Mozart's sonata K. 301 (first bar of the last system on page 3). (I'm sorry, I never seem to know how to insert an image into a post).

Any advice on how to obtain flexbility there? I'm never sure just how much rotation one needs to use, how much from the wrist or from the arm, and what the exact position of the thumb should be (I have small hands).



Rotation should be entirely from the elbow (the same as twisting a door knob). If you play the chord (the top and bottom of the tremolo) comfortably, and then start rocking your hand from the elbow, you'll feel how it should be. Try it first on the keytops, without trying to play the notes. Then do the same from the bottom of the key, but slowly. Concentrate on how it feels more than how it sounds. When you have mastered the technique it will sound good.

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: johnstaf] #2902080
10/19/19 01:15 PM
10/19/19 01:15 PM
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Posts: 9,466
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Making it stronger (something I've never heard of) is hardly going to help. Why don't you re-post a sensible question?

Why don't you post a less condescending response?

thumb thumb thumb


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Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2902203
10/20/19 02:31 AM
10/20/19 02:31 AM
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London
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chopin_r_us Offline
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Like Beethoven got anywhere being polite.

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: chopin_r_us] #2902241
10/20/19 08:03 AM
10/20/19 08:03 AM
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pianoloverus Online content
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Like Beethoven got anywhere being polite.
You're no Beethoven. And he achieved what he did in spite of his gruffness, not because of it.

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: chopin_r_us] #2902246
10/20/19 08:18 AM
10/20/19 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Making it stronger (something I've never heard of) is hardly going to help. Why don't you re-post a sensible question?


Goodness . And your’e a piano teacher? I’m very grateful mine doesn’t reply to questions in the same way.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: pianoloverus] #2902247
10/20/19 08:18 AM
10/20/19 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Like Beethoven got anywhere being polite.
You're no Beethoven. And he achieved what he did in spite of his gruffness, not because of it.

Wha!? On both counts. Last thoughts: brotherly love, cuckoo clock.

Re: How to make thumb stronger? [Re: OscoBosco] #2902302
10/20/19 11:03 AM
10/20/19 11:03 AM
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I don’t know if this is good or bad for piano, but I switched from a computer mouse to a trackpad a few years ago (Magic Trackpad on a Mac.) I’ve found that the new downward pressure with my thumb has strengthened & coordinated those muscles. You’ve just made me realize these are the same muscles the thumb uses on the piano, so maybe that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for? Trouble is it’s only my right hand, but hey, maybe I’ll try it leftie.


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