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#475386 - 10/10/08 12:19 PM Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Fleeting Visions Offline
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I am not sure about all of the interactions between weight training and the mechanisms of piano playing.

I have recently (as of 2 months ago) begun weight training 3-6 times a week. Besides the obviously pleasant benefits of recomposition, energy, and solidity, are there effects that might hinder my piano performance? What must I do to avoid getting in the way of my development as a musician?

I know that at least when my forearm muscles are repairing, I have reduced flexibility. I haven't had problems when using the chest muscles, although maybe the shoulder and back might have an issue.

Do you find that it helps?

Do you think that it hurts?


Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon
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#475387 - 10/10/08 01:42 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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ecm Offline
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I don't think there should be any problems if you don't work out more than you should.
Do everything with a dose of caution and you should be okay. I am also considering about starting to go to the gym but I'm still not that sure.

#475388 - 10/10/08 02:31 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Frank III Offline
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Listen to your body. If you feel pain or uncomfortable twinges, reduce the weight and/or change your technique so as not to hurt yourself or develop things like tendonitis or carpel tunnel. Some weight machines might not fit your body well so just be careful.


Frank III
#475389 - 10/10/08 02:58 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Ridicolosamente Offline
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Someone brought up a similar topic over the summer. That gentleman was having problems with his wrist, as I did a few years back.

In my opinion, that would be the largest cause for concern, the wrists. Other than that, a lessened flexibility or slight discomfort in your forearms due to an arm, shoulder, or upper back workout might be evident, but I'm sure wouldn't last more than 1 day after working that muscle group.

Improving overall physical health/well being can only help.

Good luck and keep it up. There aren't enough "diesel" pianists out there.

smile

Daniel


Currently working on:
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-Liszt Harmonies du Soir
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#475390 - 10/10/08 03:32 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Quote
Originally posted by Ridicolosamente:
Someone brought up a similar topic over the summer. That gentleman was having problems with his wrist, as I did a few years back.

In my opinion, that would be the largest cause for concern, the wrists. Other than that, a lessened flexibility or slight discomfort in your forearms due to an arm, shoulder, or upper back workout might be evident, but I'm sure wouldn't last more than 1 day after working that muscle group.

Improving overall physical health/well being can only help.

Good luck and keep it up. There aren't enough "diesel" pianists out there.

smile

Daniel
I workout hard and the forearms get an enormous amount of work. Shrugs, lat pulldowns, rows, flies (of all kinds), biceps, triceps, and pullups of all kinds all give the forearms a workout. Add to that the the actual wrist exercises, and my forearms get the biggest pump I've ever felt- it was like my entire arm was going to explode eek .

The point is that whatever you work out will be sore the next day, and just isn't as flexible while healing. Thanks for the feedback- what do you mean by "Diesel"?

Daniel


Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon
#475391 - 10/10/08 03:57 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Sorry might be South Florida colloquialism from when I lived there. Diesel: ripped, crazy muscular & toned, you know, where you have the crazy veins showing etc etc

I remember the height of my wrist discomfort was in the weeks leading up to performing Dvorak's Op 46 G minor Slavonic Dance with my teacher. Every few measures it was "Ouch! Ouch! ... Crap! Crap! ... F&^$ F@$%!" Funny now, not so pleasurable then.


Currently working on:
-Poulenc Trois pièces
-Liszt Harmonies du Soir
-Bach/Brahms Chaconne for Left Hand
#475392 - 10/10/08 04:22 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Many years ago, I injured the tendons in my wrists from doing repetitive work in a factory. As a pianist this was devastating to me; but as this was during the Thatcher era and "flexible employment methods" ruled I got no compensations. I was told to rest it and take anti-inflammatory pills. They didn't work, and for years I could not play for long without pain.
Then I took up weight training. When the muscles around the tendons got stronger, I was protected. I never have any problems anymore, weight training renewed my pianistic career!
To avoid adverse effects,always work opposing muscle groups, stretch daily and keep within your limits: train but don't strain! I highly recommend weight training for pianists.
Good luck!

#475393 - 10/10/08 07:25 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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_ JR _ Offline
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As long as you don't WAY over do it, you should be fine.

A couple years ago I started working for a certain package delivery company, and I unloaded trailers every night. Needless to say, I used several muscle sets in my forearms that I had hardly ever used before in my life (yes, even as a pianist of 16 years at the time).

For the first couple weeks, it was mildly to moderately painful unless I kept my arms in a neutral position, but this fatigue eventually gave way with no permanent damage (at least as far as I can tell so far :p ).

If you're using proper technique in your weight training, you should be just fine.


I've got a youtube account you're welcome to check out.
Not too much there yet though !
#475394 - 10/11/08 12:07 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Weight training is very healthy if you do it correctly. As far as training the forearms, in the long run, it'll strengthen your fingers and that's essential for pieces that require alot of finger power. What pianocommy said about opposing muscles is true. You probably know this already, but just in case you don't, the forearms have to be trained from different angles because they have several sections: flexors, extensors, brachioradialis.
http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/boneman/YourBody.html

#475395 - 10/11/08 07:55 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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There is a product, FingerWeights, which I used to see in music products catalogs. Seems asinine to me!

http://www.compukiss.com/populartopics/retire_govhtm/review260.htm

I used to work out on a rowing machine moderately, which did seem to help my playing some.


WhoDwaldi
Howard 550 (by Kawai) 5' 10"
#475396 - 10/12/08 09:11 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Larisa Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by pianocommy:
Many years ago, I injured the tendons in my wrists from doing repetitive work in a factory. As a pianist this was devastating to me; but as this was during the Thatcher era and "flexible employment methods" ruled I got no compensations. I was told to rest it and take anti-inflammatory pills. They didn't work, and for years I could not play for long without pain.
Then I took up weight training. When the muscles around the tendons got stronger, I was protected. I never have any problems anymore, weight training renewed my pianistic career!
To avoid adverse effects,always work opposing muscle groups, stretch daily and keep within your limits: train but don't strain! I highly recommend weight training for pianists.
Good luck!
Same here. I had a repetitive stress injury from computer work, which led to ganglion cysts, nerve damage, and all sorts of nasty things in my right hand. When I started weight training - and I started at very light weights - my hands got better, and I was able to play for longer periods of time without getting tired.

Aside from the fact that weight training is really really good for your general health, I think it can only enhance your piano playing.

#475397 - 10/13/08 04:00 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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I have done a wide variety of regular resistance training for many years - weights, bullworkers, tubes and springs. The only time it ever affected my playing was when pressure was applied to nerves through the wrist by incorrectly gripping apparatus. But this is very easily avoided by modifying the grip area or wearing thick gloves.

I think we are far more likely to injure our playing apparatus with inappropriate technique and faulty, repetitious practising at the instrument than with resistance training.


"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows
#475398 - 10/13/08 11:04 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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You might find it interesting that my left hand wrist was significantly stronger than my right when I lifted wrist curls for the first time. This correlates with my LH octaves wink .


Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon
#475399 - 10/14/08 08:48 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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New to the forum - hi there.

In my opinion it can only help. I have been weight training for as long as I can remember, so maybe do not experience any post training pain anymore. But I am definitely stronger - and strenght in both hands and wrists have evened out. smile

Currently I am working on Granados Escenas Romanticas, and Falla's Fantasia Betica. Weight training has made the fantasia much more managable, and the Granados comes easy. And control od octaves? What can I say....Chopins Op 48 Nocturne is a breeze!! At long last!

I say keep it up - it will be beneficial in the long run.

#475400 - 10/14/08 03:37 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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It would be interesting to learn about how many top pianists of the world are doing weight lifting, karate, boxing, rowing etc.

My experience is that physical excercises with static muscle tension like rowing and weigth lifting are counterproductive to piano playing. So is also heavy physical work like piano moving.

You have to increase your exercises at the piano to get back your fine motoric sensitivity and hand and finger flexibility.

There are unfortunately some hobbies or professsions that are difficult to combine e.g.
sumo wrestling and ballet dancing. You have ot accept that and choose what to focus on.

#475401 - 10/14/08 05:41 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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There's a cliche, "You can't swing a sledgehammer then play the violin."

Some concert pianists and violinists are avid tennis or golf players. I don't see how either sport is good for the wrists.

Volleyball might be the worst for pianists.


WhoDwaldi
Howard 550 (by Kawai) 5' 10"
#475402 - 10/14/08 05:49 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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I'm getting completely opposing responses:

I am getting responses that say that it can only help, citing Gen on youtube as an example. simultaneously, I am receiving responses that say that weight lifting is simply incompatible.

Might there be a moderate conclusion? What modifications to weight training should I make?


Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon
#475403 - 10/14/08 06:02 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Give it up?

Just being a little silly - weight training is out of my realm....but....I can't see how it's condusive to piano playing....if anything imcompatible.

I'm thinking of students I've had in physical sports training programs, and how "off" they played after being in season with their sports. Swimmers, track, soccer, hockey, etc.

They seem to get energy depleted, slower to respond, more in tune with their large muscles for strength that their small digits like fingers seem to "bulk up" along with their attitudes (games take attitudes, yes?).

I'm not the least bit scientific in proving there is a change to the negative for piano, but I'm never experienced a good outcome when a student is in peak season of his or her sport. And, there are several sports for one person year round. I think even golf would have it's impact on a pianist.

Physical therapy would be different in that they were strengthing to gain use of the body, and they use selected weight exercises for a purpose.

Weights for body contouring, especially if unsupervised, is at a "at your own risk level" I would think.

I don't rightly know the professional answer about this....and suggest if you find it, you post it here.

#475404 - 10/15/08 04:18 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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For what it is worth guys.

I find that any exercise, be it weight training, walking, karate, whatever your preference is, is GOOD. Personally, once I have practiced for 2 hours, and my mind gets foggy, I go to the gym, and emerge on the other side with much more clarity. Suddenly the sometimes inconsistent Granados notation is easier to decipher. You are more relaxed, and concentration is again at its peak.

What would be better - take a break from the piano and have a sedentary cup of tea? laugh I do not think so. Healthy body creates healthy mind.

Keep on pumping! wink A little exercise will not harm the hands and wrists.

Would'nt we all want Gina Bachauer arms!! ha

#475405 - 10/15/08 10:44 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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The starter of the thread wrote about reduced flexibility. Is not that obviously a negative influence?

I am not against sports which are good for the soul, physical condition, stamina. Walking, running, swimming, skiing, skating, riding etc.

But if you do weight lifting, with heavy weights, most probably there will be a time of recovery requiring more technique excercises at the piano.

Do what ever you want, if you have the time and money for it! Go e.g. fishing in winteretime and then with cold and sore fingers play the piano afterwards at the fire place! Ruin your fingers by lifting heavy timbers in the wood. Go rock climbing!

You will find yourself what is harmful and not for your level of pianoplaying

P.S. Using a sledge hammer is not considered beneficial for piano playing either. It is not a cliché - it is proven experience.

P.P.S. What kind of heavy sports (something heavier than golf and tennis!) do today's top pianists?

#475406 - 10/15/08 12:53 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Hmm... one could play soccer as much as one wanted. No fingers (should be) involved!

#475407 - 10/15/08 02:11 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Quote
Originally posted by Jan-Erik:
Do what ever you want, if you have the time and money for it! Go e.g. fishing in winteretime and then with cold and sore fingers play the piano afterwards at the fire place! Ruin your fingers by lifting heavy timbers in the wood. Go rock climbing!

You will find yourself what is harmful and not for your level of pianoplaying

P.S. Using a sledge hammer is not considered beneficial for piano playing either. It is not a cliché - it is proven experience.

P.P.S. What kind of heavy sports (something heavier than golf and tennis!) do today's top pianists?
Do you think that time might be an issue here taht you're ignoring? That top pianists become such through countless hours of diligence and, often, the sacrifice of other pursuits?


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#475408 - 10/15/08 02:56 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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To fFleeting Visions:

I think you have got enough answers on your question. Just draw your own conclusions!

- - - - -

But as many forumist/amateur pianists seems to be in favour of "sledge hammering", karate, and body building I just wondered:

- If you have restricted time for your piano playing, i. e. you are an amateur and have to earn your living by something else than piano playing but anyhow have pianistic ambitions, how wise is it then to, on purpose, do things that are counteractive?

- Which are the habits and hobbies of today's top pianists? I do think they must do something else than sit at the piano all the day. Do htey perhaps prepare fro a performance by lifting weights an hour before?

#475409 - 10/15/08 06:39 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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The variety of well-meaning, sensible but contradictory opinion here, especially from experienced people such as Betty, gives me pause for thought. I think I might give resistance training (but not aerobic training) the heave-ho for a reasonable period, say until Christmas, and observe differences in my playing. I play fine with weight training but I really have no evidence that I might not play better without it, I suppose. Only one way to find out.


"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows
#475410 - 10/15/08 11:27 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Ted,

Glad to hear you are considering. Some observation about how those weights affect you would be a good thing. I'd especially be concerned about neck, shoulder, arm, hand impacts and bulking.

This is an opportunity for you to do some research and see what experts say.

It's wise of you to consider compatible exercises so that you do not put your piano playing in jeopardy.

Hey, Ted! What do I know about lifting weight? My little weight is about 2lbs and was for physical therapy purposes!

Good luck! Let us know how it's going.

Betty

#475411 - 10/16/08 01:33 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Quote
Originally posted by Ted:
I play fine with weight training but I really have no evidence that I might not play better without it, I suppose. Only one way to find out.
The feeling of playing the piano 'fine' is of a looseness of limbs, a kind of uncumbered feel. I can't help thinking muscle bulk would get in the way.


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#475412 - 10/16/08 02:27 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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I may be wrong, but I think most of us on this forum are amateur pianists. Trying to find a balance between playing the piano, doing our jobs, and also have a healthy lifestyle in difficult. Trying to fit in lessons whenever we have the time is even more difficult.

I do not know about the forum members, but I run a very busy architectural practice, and have to rise at 05h00 in the morning, to get an hours practice. Going to the gym after work, clears my mind, and I can then get another hour in. Otherwise I am mentally to tired.

And moderate weight training has had no detrimental effect on my ability to play the piano properly. As a matter of fact it has helped my wrist stability, and subtleness has improved.

I agree, working out to achieve the "diesel" look is no good. It takes up an immense amount of time, commitment and energy. Which leaves no time for playing the piano! shocked

So all in moderation. Again, healthy body, healthy mind!

#475413 - 10/17/08 12:44 AM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Larisa Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Fleeting Visions:
I'm getting completely opposing responses:

I am getting responses that say that it can only help, citing Gen on youtube as an example. simultaneously, I am receiving responses that say that weight lifting is simply incompatible.

Might there be a moderate conclusion? What modifications to weight training should I make?
It might be instructive to note that the people who are recommending weight training are the ones who do it on a regular basis, whereas the people who are advising against it have never tried it.

Though I will note that I have been really really careful about my hands in my weight training regimen, and try not to overload them. There are some exercises I won't do because they place too much stress on the fingers (but I have a lot of previous hand trouble, so I am extra careful). Still, most weight training exercises should be fine, and your body will tell you which ones aren't.

#475414 - 10/19/08 09:12 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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Sometime in the early nineties, I went to a recital Portland, OR, where the pianist's weight training regime was mentioned in his bio. And he was clearly a slab of muscle. The only other thing I remember about the recital was that his Appassionata was technically perfect (so the weight training didn't get in his way, at least) and utterly boring.

Brendan used to lift, possibly still does; perhaps he'll offer a comment.


There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians
#475415 - 10/19/08 09:49 PM Re: Weight Training and Piano Playing  
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weight training is as much of a hobby for me as piano is, and i am a powerlifter. the only thing that hinders my piano performance is when i work out my forearms, i dont have much muscle endurance left to play trills or eight/sixteenth notes as quick. but overall, it helps my performance in the long run because my forearm gets stronger


Yundi Li (http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/play.htms?LINK=rtsp://ra.universal-music-group.com/dgg/yundiLi-liszt-W-COVER.rm)

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