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Re: Proper hand technique
Hotstrings #2911495 11/13/19 09:27 AM
Joined: Jan 2018
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Hi,
Playing larger chords & octaves is a challenge for me with my small hands.

During practice or performance, I release the chord & relax my hand by closing it quickly to a fist and then opening it back up to continue to the next chord. If I don't relax, I feel a lot of fatigue in my hand that later translates to my wrist before the piece is finished.

These days, I only play for family & friends. As long as I can find a spot in the music to relax my hand and continue with the proper tempo, then my audience can still enjoy the music. It might be distracting if they can see my hand do that, so I try to not make it obvious.

On a practice day, I give myself a break from the piano if I experience any ache caused by swelling or bad posture. I can always return to the piano later that day. I think it's for that reason that I enjoy longer practice sessions in the afternoon or late evening after my muscles & joints have properly worked out the kinks during a normal day of activity.

Hope this helps and take care!


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Re: Proper hand technique
pianoloverus #2911567 11/13/19 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Quote
I don't think Horowitz played with flat fingers. He used to hold his non-playing fingers straightened out, and this fact, coupled with his very long fingers and extraordinarily elastic last (DIP) finger joints creates wrong impression of playing with flat fingers, but it's not the case really. If you watch closely the playing fingers in the octaves that you refer to on the video, you will see that his middle (PIP) finger joints do bend downward when he touches the keys.

Besides, talking about Horowitz we shouldn't forget that technically he had serious restrictions, e.g. he could play comfortably only on his bright grand with extremely light action, he had to sit uncomfortably low, and even in these conditions his technique was very unstable, many of his concerts were a complete failure technically. This led him to an extreme stage fright and a long break in the middle of his career. So if someone wants to find a pianist to learn technique from, I think Horowitz is not at all a good candidate.

I don't think many of Horowitz's concerts were a "complete failure technically" except possibly when he was heavily medicated.

Obviously I had no chance to visit his concerts, I was only 6 when he played in Moscow last time, so I can only tell you what I read. I read that he had concerts which were a technical failure and it led him to an extreme stage fright and the break, and it was long before Japan.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
They certainly were not a failure in his prime and much of his reputation was built on his phenomenal technique.

I didn't say that he hadn't brilliant technique. I said his technique was unstable, that is, he had technique fluctuations from concert to concert that were much bigger than what is considered normal for elite pianist, and these fluctuations did not let him play well consistently.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Preferring a piano that's bright and has a light action doesn't mean one's technique is faulty.

I think there is a difference between preferring a piano and refusing to play on all other (well prepared, elite brand) pianos except his own. I consider it a technical drawback.
Hoisting a piano out of a window of a New York apartment by crane and transporting it to Moscow seems a little bit over the top, isn't it?

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I also can't agree with your claim that Horowitz didn't play with flat fingers. He has been mentioned for decades by countless people as the prime example of a flat fingered pianist.

I'm sorry to be contradicting countless people, but I say what I really think. I think Horowitz had fundamentally pretty normal technique, he relied on arm weight as well as others. Most of the time he played with curved fingers. In many, many passages he crooked his fingers even more than others in average. He used to flatten his fingers only in some cases when it is appropriate, like playing cantabile, and when other pianists do it, too. He didn't play his famous octaves (or anything else unusual) with flat fingers. It's only his low posture, the anatomy of his hands and his habit to straighten non-playing fingers that created wrong impression. He was not a 'flat fingered pianist'.

And certainly he didn't play with flat fingers in a manner that we often see on YouTube (i.e. with a collapsed hand) and what people here might think when they hear 'flat fingers'. That's why I am a little bit worried every time when Horowitz is mentioned in that context.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
You seem to say that his non-playing fingers were flat while his playing fingers were curved but when one curves one finger the adjacent ones curve automatically.

They curve automatically unless you deliberately resist it, and this is exactly what I think is happening. The uplift of his last (DIP) finger joints that we can often see on his recordings shows that he simultaneously uses his finger extensor muscles in the forearm with finger flexors that flex middle (PIP) joint. So he simultaneously flexes PIP joint and extends DIP joint, and this I think is a hallmark of his technique.

If you're interested, look at 0:08 of Animisha's video. You can clearly see at slow motion that his 5th finger is bent when playing the key while his 3rd and 4th fingers are straightened. Then look carefully at downward passage at slow motion. You can see that he bends his PIP joints while his last phalanges are still lifted. That I think is the secret. He deliberately tries to uplift his fingertip when he bends PIP joint to make a fingertip contact the key with larger surface. But unfortunately it is completely impossible if you don't have his unique DIP joints anatomy, it just can't be copied.

Re: Proper hand technique
Hotstrings #2911861 11/14/19 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Hotstrings
Thank you for all the comments.,
The comments about getting a new teacher were way off base . Kind of rude for this forum. If you knew who my teacher is that would not be a suggestion at all.
I was just curious as I’ve seen it both ways.
Believe me I don’t need another teacher . Very happy. Thank you.

It would good to know your thoughts of any of the ideas given by those trying to help or answer, or just whether any were useful.
This reminds me of the Legs&Tattoos thread, where the more useless and emotionally charged stuff gets the attention.

About seeing it "both ways" - I tried to answer precisely that. Did anything there make sense?

Re: Proper hand technique
Hotstrings #2911885 11/14/19 11:06 AM
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This post has certainly evolved into a very informative discussion. Was it helpful to my original question .?Yes in the sense that hand techniques and figure placements can vary and no exactly one way.
I only was asking cause I saw a player w flat palms and fingers ALL the time. Lots of other issues brought in by others which I’m sure helped more advanced players.
I did not ask opinions on another teacher, I don’t know how to post a photo yet let alone a video.
I am loving piano. Thanks again.

Re: Proper hand technique
Hotstrings #2911955 11/14/19 02:02 PM
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Thank you, Hotstrings, for your response. Glad you're loving piano. Music is a fantastic journey.

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