Not a teacher, but plenty of experience with a lifetime of various joint/tendon/nerve issues, and I can say: don't listen to ANYBODY about this stuff but your own body and a qualified doctor (preferably not just a GP). I'm not at all trying to be mean, but you don't have a future at Carnegie hall ahead of you given your late start, why take the slightest risk at injuring yourself when at your age repairs come slowly if at all?
Now, to some specifics. A lot of pain come from nerve injury or tendons. For example, tendons swell and they do not slide through the channels as they are supposed to. It will be hard to press with authority, and it will be painful as well. This is not evidence of "weak" fingers, and it will not be helped by practice. It's a biological issue generally only relieved by rest, anti-inflammatory medicine, etc. Nerves get compressed. In that case your fingers will seem truly weak - as it not able to exert force (many times in piano people use 'weak' and 'strong' to mean skilled or not, which just terribly conflates 2 different things). The last thing you want to do in that case is push harder, take on more exercises, etc. Again, in general (I'm being vague because I am not a doctor and couldn't diagnose and offer advice on the internet even if I was), the thing to do is rest, etc.
These finger exercises are, IMO, terrible and potentially injurious. Just one example. Your 3rd and 4th finger are controlled by the same tendon. There is NO amount of practice that will change that. This raising one finger at a time is highly likely to lead to injury.
I'm prone to all of this stuff, and you just have to tune out the naysayers. I used to rock climb. Well, I couldn't grip very hard, but everyone just says "grip harder, do pullups", on and on. Terrible advice if the issue is bio-mechanics and not due to being out of shape.
Your suspicions are right on in my experience, and even if not, so what? You leave a bit of skill 'on the table' so to speak. Big deal. Play. Have fun. Rest when you want to. In another thread on here people are discussing whether to yell at a child whose mother is dying. it's crazy. None of this matters. It's pushing some keys and hopefully enjoying the process and results. This teacher is not your boss, they do not get to control your life, just ignore them or fire them if you need to, and get what you can from them otherwise.
Sorry for the passion, but I've spent a lifetime (I'm 53, been dealing with this since age 10 or so) getting terrible advice from people that aren't doctors, and don't understand or accept that not all bodies are equal. Some can 'push through the pain', in others that just breaks you in a very real, biological way. I had to listen to it through cello lessons, through classical guitar, and now piano. They aren't doctors, they aren't qualified to give medical advice, don't listen to them. Nerve damage is real, and it is permanent, while the teacher just signs up another student when you drop away.
And, for what it is worth, be very suspicious of all the 'just relax' posts. Yes, being tense will make things worse, but there is overuse. It doesn't matter how loose you are, tendons run through channels, and if your biology is such that things are tight in there, you are going to do damage with overuse no matter how relaxed you are. Relaxation sometimes gets sold on here as the panacea for all ills. It ain't true. Carpal tunnel (for example) is not fixed by relaxation, you just might be able to go a bit longer with relaxation.
Last edited by RogerRL; 12/02/19 05:37 PM.