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#3230920 07/07/22 04:36 AM
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I've been playing for 9 months and got a teacher 2 months ago.

My index finger (not my pinkie) floats when I use my 4th finger. My teacher would like me to correct this and has suggested slowing down and being very conscious about keeping my fingers on the keys. I've tried this and it's painful. It can feel it in the tendons in the back of my hand and my wrist.

I tried adjusting my hand position so there is a greater arch and my fingertips rather than the pads of my fingers hit the key more. This helps slightly (but does not obliterate the problem) and introduced horrible tension in my shoulders. My wrists felt too high, my elbow too far out.

I have no idea what else to try. Is a floating index finger a serious issue? I do this in real life. I type correctly with five fingers and as I type I'm now conscious of my index finger floating up. My teacher is convinced it's tension but I'm not so sure (or not so sure that releasing tension will solve it, anyway).

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Being conscious about it wont help really. Tahts typically the type of advice some teacher give which dont help at all. You need to do some exercices to develop your finger independance. It will take time before it settles. I dont think though that it is a major issue in the short term.


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Any kind of tension is a serious issue that will hinder your progress in more advanced playing and it's much easier to fix when you're a beginner.

It's really hard to give advice over the internet without even seeing you play. Perhaps if you posted a sample video we could comment.

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https://www.veed.io/view/e42450e1-92d5-4649-9e4b-2a4536eabbb1?sharingWidget=true

Thank you for offering to look.

Please be gentle, I've never played an instrument before smile

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Yes indeed. Everybody has slightly different hand configuration. To me it seems like a natural reaction which you cant control. Btw you also raise the pinky in some positions. You just need to develop the ability to better control each finger which is a typical issue most beginners encounter. Your teacher should point you to finger independance exercises. The issue will get solved naturally with increased control. In the meantime, you should avoid any tension. Tension is more an issue than a floating finger.


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I don’t have any advice for you but would just like to offer some encouragement. When I first started, I had issues with collapsing fingers at the first joint near the finger tips and a very floaty pinky on both hands. My teacher was adamant I correct these issues. It takes time and being conscious of it but after 3 years, I’m happy to say the collapsing finger is no longer an issue and the floating pinky is much, much less of an issue now. So stay positive, and it can be conquered!


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I wouldn't add stress over that connection between your fingers.
Even Horowitz curled his pinky finger, perhaps unnecessarily.
It may be possible to exercise your way into more independence, but don't rush,and don't push. Injury awaits you if you do.

Peter Feuchtwanger developed a great exercise to help develop finger awareness and independence.
You can download relevant text and the notes here:
http://peter-feuchtwanger.de/downloads/exercise-1.pdf

Adam Johnson demonstrates it here:


Here is one of my students doing it in a ZOOM lesson
Skip to 1:46 for that specific content.
End at 2:20.
https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/360401329

If there is a "secret" to doing "quick release" properly, it comes from learning to feel precisely which ONE muscle is involved in pressing the keys down. It's similar to grasping. Of course, there's more to it than that, but this is about the best I can do writing about it in a general way.


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Thank you! This is really helpful.

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I could be due to 3rd finger trying to stay up while the 4th is playing. Raising the 3rd finger might affect the 2nd finger and make it float as well.


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Hmm. Almost all piano playing hand technique is about relaxing. Focus on that.

Teachers, especially those who never reached high levels of proficiency themselves maybe(?) can be too dogmatic about hand and finger position.

Try this (not at the keyboard). Relax. Where do you fingers rest when you lift your forearm?

In my case I lift my forefinger slightly in both hands and lift + straighten the pinky slightly. It's not a problem and is just the physical conformation I happen to have.

I am by most standards a fairly advanced player and in all honestly I have never felt that my finger positioning during playing has hampered me in any way. I work on staying relaxed.

Don't stress about this too much.


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Originally Posted by AJB
Hmm. Almost all piano playing hand technique is about relaxing. Focus on that. ====snip====

Try this (not at the keyboard). Relax. Where do you fingers rest when you lift your forearm?

In my case I lift my forefinger slightly in both hands and lift + straighten the pinky slightly. It's not a problem and is just the physical conformation I happen to have.
===============snip===============
Don't stress about this too much.
AJB - if I follow your procedure, it is designed to help a person find what I, and Peter Feuchtwanger (as I recall), would call "neutral position", that is, the position of the hand when relaxed.

If I've got that right, may I suggest yet another method to find neutral position that I have used with my students?

If the student is physically able to stand, have them stand, arms relaxed, hanging down straight. If they must remain seated, have them sit straight as possible with the bench or chair turned so that the arms can hang down freely without contacting the seating surface.

Once in that position, I ask them to breathe and with each breath focus on consciously letting go of the arms so they hang completely freely - the arms should feel almost like dead weight once a person has relaxed enough.

It is at that point, in every case that I have observed, that the hands will assume what is "neutral position" for that individual. The fingers will curve just so, the thumbs will bend back at the first joint (or not), the thumb will be a certain distance from the rest of the hand, the other four fingers will usually hang together touching.

Then I have them LOOK at their hand - usually in a mirror - to see what neutral looks like.

Finally, following what I learned when Peter Feuchtwanger did it with me, I lift the seated student's arm onto the keyboard with the thumb hanging off, and the other 4 fingers on any white key.

"Quick Release" is about laying the foundation to play that way, but, in most cases with even more flattened fingers, confining the curve to the first joint (the one furthest from the palm).

It's an exercise that looks simple to do, and eventually becomes one that is, but, in almost every case, it is not that simple to learn to develop the awareness to be able to isolate the particular muscles involved in pressing a key down.


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Originally Posted by DuvetJackson
Is a floating index finger a serious issue? I do this in real life. I type correctly with five fingers and as I type I'm now conscious of my index finger floating up. My teacher is convinced it's tension but I'm not so sure (or not so sure that releasing tension will solve it, anyway).

What do you mean by 'floating' index finger. Maybe a pic/photo will make it clear. Floating up? Or pointing upward and straight-finger? Or still arched/curve but the tip of finger is merely raising in height/level?

Whatever it is ----- just think of efficiency and timing. For relatively slow music, there is time to push the buttons (keys) at the right time. But if the music is relatively fast - and quick --- then the hands and fingers might need to be oriented and positioned for optimum performance ----- or least amount of time and effort lost or wasted in reaching a note after a different finger had played the previous one. But ------ this all depends on what is a 'floating index finger'.

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Originally Posted by SouthPark
Originally Posted by DuvetJackson
Is a floating index finger a serious issue? I do this in real life. I type correctly with five fingers and as I type I'm now conscious of my index finger floating up. My teacher is convinced it's tension but I'm not so sure (or not so sure that releasing tension will solve it, anyway).

What do you mean by 'floating' index finger. Maybe a pic/photo will make it clear. Floating up? Or pointing upward and straight-finger? Or still arched/curve but the tip of finger is merely raising in height/level?

Whatever it is ----- just think of efficiency and timing. For relatively slow music, there is time to push the buttons (keys) at the right time. But if the music is relatively fast - and quick --- then the hands and fingers might need to be oriented and positioned for optimum performance ----- or least amount of time and effort lost or wasted in reaching a note after a different finger had played the previous one. But ------ this all depends on what is a 'floating index finger'.

The Op has already provided a link in this thread

http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/topics/3230958/re-floating-index-finger.html#Post3230958

Re-positioning fingers is not the solution


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Hi DuvetJackson! When I watched your video, I didn't see you relax your hands, and I think that you'll need to work with that - and then the floating finger problem will solve itself.

Here is a video in which this relaxation is demonstrated with a child:


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Originally Posted by dogperson
The Op has already provided a link in this thread
http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/topics/3230958/re-floating-index-finger.html#Post3230958
Re-positioning fingers is not the solution

Thanks for the heads-up with that clip at that link. Assuming the OP has potential to 'train' the hands/fingers to behave and perform in the way that piano teachers would like, then that would be a case of working towards 're-positioning' -- or re-orienting. It will be working towards consistent and reliable (well-controlled) re-positioning

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My suggestion (identify natural conformation) was a simplistic version of the method described by Seeker. I agree with that.

Piano teachers, especially of beginners I think, sometimes have strange ideas. My first teacher was obsessed with the fingers being curved - as if holding a ball. This was silly and completely inefficient for me but a popular teaching concept at the time. Some pianists do that, but many, me included, have a fairly flat finger position on the keys and certainly for me, in challenging chordal work for instance, that helps.

Trying to change physical conformation (natural, unforced positioning of our bodies) is counterproductive to what is even more important - being relaxed and not tense. Best of luck to the original poster.


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Horowitz has a flat finger technique. Just use whatever works, and change the technique if (after adequate thought and analysis) it turns out that is more beneficial health-wise, performance-wise, effort-wise, etc.

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Originally Posted by DuvetJackson
I've been playing for 9 months and got a teacher 2 months ago.
Originally Posted by DuvetJackson
Please be gentle, I've never played an instrument before smile

Playing for 9 months, but never played a instrument before. I see! As Bruce Lee one put it - the art of fighting without fighting.

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From what I can see, this is more a neural issue with the brain. There's been studies where if a person's third and fourth fingers are taped together for several weeks, they found it difficult to be able to move them separately afterwards for a while. Can't remember the age of the participants, whether they were kids or adults. Regardless the effect still stands although the effect may be a bit less pronounced in adults.

Neurons that fire together, wire together. And over time, the movements of the two fingers "fixed" in the brain as shown by the brain activation patterns being more similar.

Now this would work in reverse as well. If you keep training the fingers to activate independently, they will get better at it. For this, you can practice lifting fingers separately without letting the others lift. Don't keep them down with excess pressure -- instead, simply try to allow one finger to raise while others don't. A variety of such patterns can be used to train this better. It's quite normal to struggle with at the beginning.

Last edited by ranjit; 07/08/22 03:41 AM.
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Originally Posted by SouthPark
Originally Posted by DuvetJackson
I've been playing for 9 months and got a teacher 2 months ago.
Originally Posted by DuvetJackson
Please be gentle, I've never played an instrument before smile

Playing for 9 months, but never played a instrument before. I see! As Bruce Lee one put it - the art of fighting without fighting.

typo ----- 'once'

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