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#540253 - 02/20/09 07:59 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Betelgeuse, baby!
*** NECROPHILIA ALERT! ***

Before anyone else posts in this thread, please note that it had been dead for more than 14 months before the post above this one resurrected it.


Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.
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#540254 - 02/20/09 08:06 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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etcetra Offline
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well, I am only responding because someone mentioned this thread in an active thread smile

#540255 - 02/20/09 08:55 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by etcetra:
I read somewhere that the hand of a professional piano player is not much different than a hand of a regular person, as far as muscle strength are concerned.
It's really about where the tendons attach to phalanges. 'Pro' playing puts loads of stress there.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540256 - 02/20/09 07:29 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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I just stumbled on this interesting thread (I haven't read it all but...

There are some "at keyboard" finger strength build exercises available from Richard Meyrick.

Checkout: http://www.thepianostudio.co.uk/finger-workouts.php

The download is a PDF (and some of them seem 'Chang-esque' to me)...

There's some explanatory videos on the site that you may want to review.

The emphasis is on power, speed and 15 minutes a day maximum.... He uses a "dummy" weighted keyboard and some of them are far from musical. He works through finger independance, wrist and full arm power exercises in beginner/intermediate/advanced grades.

He actually warns you to build up gradually and draws an analogy with weight lifting (checkout the video) as otherwise '..it would be like trying to clean and jerk 200 1bs in you first session....' (or similar)...

Elwyn

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#540257 - 02/21/09 05:19 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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The absurdity of this thread evokes the image of the Charles Atlas advert ... of a 97 lb Chopin weakling having George Sand kicked in his eyes ... but later changed into a Body Building tough-guy to knock the tar our of the bully ... all good stuff.

I too was a 97 lb weakling ... and some might think I still am ... but heck ... who wants to finish up with a body-builder’s frame and have to carry 240 lbs around for a lifetime ... I prefer to be able to dodge the traffic ... and play my piano.

Sorry chaps ... couldn't resist the barb.

#540258 - 02/21/09 05:38 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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etcetra Offline
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Yea I just don't see how strength, and even independence fit in all this either.. when I play, I am not pressing down on the key, I just shift the center of gravity so that the right finger falls on the keyboard.. you don't need much resistance to keep the fingers from collapsing if coordinate it just right.

Maybe I am just more into the arm-weight school.. I guess I treat the piano as something you play with your mind, and not so much the body.

My biggest concern for these exercise is that some people may stop seeking more efficient way of playing because they have enough strength/power to muscle it out.

Piano playing is not anything like sports, most atheletes decline in performance once they reach their 30's but most great piano players are able to play at a high level even at a very old age. it's something that even 8 yr old or 80 yr can do well, if its done right.

#540259 - 02/21/09 06:11 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Try shifting your weight round this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExH1DQjsG3M


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540260 - 02/21/09 11:25 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Wow - somebody resurrected my 2 year old thread - guess nothing dies on the internet!

People - before you comment on this thread, please read it - including the original linked thread. It is saying exactly what most of you are arguing - that to play the piano YOU DO NOT NEED STRENGTH. Repeat: YOU DO *****NOT**** NEED STRENGTH.

I realize my original subject line may have caused some confusion - I have just changed it.

In the linked thread I basically asked what kind of strength fingers need since it DOESN'T take strength to play a note on the piano and yet some fingers are more capable of playing than others, and in fact we commonly refer to the 4th finger as being weak. The answer was that there is a difference between RAW STRENGTH (the ability to move a heavy object) and POWER (the ability to move a body part or object with great speed) and what is needed to play the piano is to develop fingers capable of moving at great speed (POWER). That was the conclusion of the conversation I had on the original linked thread and the whole point of this thread - a point that has apparently been missed by many of you who have posted here. There is nothing absurd about it. I found the distinction useful, especially as thousands of exercises have been written for the piano with the stated purpose of "strengthening the fingers."

#540261 - 02/21/09 12:12 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by JerryS88:
Quote
Originally posted by SideShow:
[b]It's not about strenght, it's about control
It's about strength AND control. [/b]
Jerry, I feel that it is rather disingenuous of you to go back and change the title of a 2-year old thread that you started, a thread that was all about STRENGTH as you yourself state in the above quote. Your original thread was not about building finger speed. By going back and rewriting history it makes it look as if all those respondents didn't know what they were talking about. I think Piano World should disable this ability we have to rewrite history.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#540262 - 02/21/09 12:29 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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You mean we know what we're talking about? Could have fooled me! Still, I like the new title.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540263 - 02/21/09 01:28 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by jazzyprof:
Quote
Originally posted by JerryS88:
[b]
Quote
Originally posted by SideShow:
[b]It's not about strenght, it's about control
It's about strength AND control. [/b]
Jerry, I feel that it is rather disingenuous of you to go back and change the title of a 2-year old thread that you started, a thread that was all about STRENGTH as you yourself state in the above quote. Your original thread was not about building finger speed. By going back and rewriting history it makes it look as if all those respondents didn't know what they were talking about. I think Piano World should disable this ability we have to rewrite history. [/b]
I'm sorry you feel that way, jazzyprof, and that certainly wasn't my intention. I changed the subject line to more ACCURATELY describe the content of my thread. In fact the thread was NOT all about strength, but about the distinction between strength and power. It seems many who responded did not get past the subject line and came to false conclusions about its content without reading through my original post.

#540264 - 02/21/09 02:10 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Jerry, I am sorry if I sounded a bit harsh. I do feel, however, that if your original intent had been a discussion of finger SPEED, you would have titled your thread accordingly. The thread would certainly have developed differently, with responses ranging from "fast twitch muscles" to Czerny's School of Velocity. As it is, your thread began with a link to a body-builders' forum where you write:
Quote
Classical Pianist Seeks Finger-Strengthening Advice

Hello Bodybuilding Forum members - this is my first post here.

I am a dedicated advanced amateur Classical pianist. After many years of struggling to improve my ability to play piano at a high technical level, I have come to the realization that the foundation of a virtouso piano technique is an extremely high level of individual finger strength, including what are naturally weak fingers, namely the ring-finger (4th) and pinky (5th). I am posting here because I'd like to know if there are lessons I can draw upon from body-building science that I can apply to my piano practicing.
So, contrary to your current revisionist stance, your original thread was all about STRENGTH. I feel that a discussion of SPEED and POWER is certainly worthwhile, but that should be a new thread instead of a new title for an old thread on finger STRENGTH. If your ideas on the subject have evolved, perhaps you could just say so in this current thread without going back to change the title.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#540265 - 02/21/09 02:26 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by jazzyprof:
Jerry, I am sorry if I sounded a bit harsh. I do feel, however, that if your original intent had been a discussion of finger SPEED, you would have titled your thread accordingly. The thread would certainly have developed differently, with responses ranging from "fast twitch muscles" to Czerny's School of Velocity. As it is, your thread began with a link to a body-builders' forum where you write:
Quote
Classical Pianist Seeks Finger-Strengthening Advice

Hello Bodybuilding Forum members - this is my first post here.

I am a dedicated advanced amateur Classical pianist. After many years of struggling to improve my ability to play piano at a high technical level, I have come to the realization that the foundation of a virtouso piano technique is an extremely high level of individual finger strength, including what are naturally weak fingers, namely the ring-finger (4th) and pinky (5th). I am posting here because I'd like to know if there are lessons I can draw upon from body-building science that I can apply to my piano practicing.
So, contrary to your current revisionist stance, your original thread was all about STRENGTH. I feel that a discussion of SPEED and POWER is certainly worthwhile, but that should be a new thread instead of a new title for an old thread on finger STRENGTH. If your ideas on the subject have evolved, perhaps you could just say so in this current thread without going back to change the title.
Jazzyprof - I'm sorry, but there is nothing revisionist about my changing the subject line of my thread - it just makes more clear what the thread was always about. If you had read just a little bit further in that post (the first post) from the thread you quoted above, you would have read this - MY VERY FIRST QUESTION:

1) Are there different KINDS of strength? I ask this because it doesn't really require alot of strength to push down a piano key, and not a lot of strength to move one's finger, and yet if one tries to play a note with, say, the 4th (ring) finger in isolation (hold down the other fingers while trying to tap the 4th strongly on a table top), one will see that the finger is "weak." Is this just plain-vanilla muscle weakness?

Again, what evolved was a discussion about the difference between raw strength and power with a clear conclusion that power (speed) is what we should be after. If you read through this thread and the one quoted you will see that I talked about the distinction throughout. Nothing has changed about that.

#540266 - 02/21/09 08:36 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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etcetra Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by JerryS88:

1) Are there different KINDS of strength? I ask this because it doesn't really require alot of strength to push down a piano key, and not a lot of strength to move one's finger, and yet if one tries to play a note with, say, the 4th (ring) finger in isolation (hold down the other fingers while trying to tap the 4th strongly on a table top), one will see that the finger is "weak." Is this just plain-vanilla muscle weakness?

Again, what evolved was a discussion about the difference between raw strength and power with a clear conclusion that power (speed) is what we should be after. If you read through this thread and the one quoted you will see that I talked about the distinction throughout. Nothing has changed about that.
I still don't get why any of this is relevent to technique... tapping a finger implies that you need to slightly lift the finger before you press it down, and with the use of your arm weight that kind of motion is not even necessary.

I remember reading somewhere that we already have the ability to play at incredibly fast speed. If you use rotation, you can play 1-2-3-4-5 extremely fast.. the problem is that you won't really have control over it. Likewise the apparent 'weakness' in 4th finger can be solved through control and coordination. I can easily support the weight of my arm with my 4th finger with coordination and it requires very little strength.

I dont think I am misunderstanding the thread.. correct me if I am wrong, but by power, you seem to mean the ability to move weights as rapidly as possible, kind of like when you do fast reps with less weights?

I think the whole premise of your exercise really based on a very narrow view of piano playing. You're basing your ideas on strict finger-school approach to piano playing and you're ignoring the use of arm-weight and rotation.

Forgive me if I sound too harsh, but your comments on Chopin really made me wondered about how much you knew ab out piano playing.. or at least where chopin is coming from.  You sounded like you knew more about chopin's playing then chopin himself.

#540267 - 02/21/09 08:40 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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etcetra Offline
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Gee i wonder why the font become different at the end of that last post...

#540268 - 02/22/09 02:51 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Try shifting your weight round this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExH1DQjsG3M
etcetra, how about a response to this?


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540269 - 02/22/09 09:13 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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etcetra Offline
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I may have made the point too much about finger school... I guess my biggest concern (and the point I am really getting at) is that I feel like these exercises are being promoted as if you're supposed to play the piano soley with your fingers... and it ignores the complext body movements that is involved in piano playing

I can play pieces at extremely fast tempo.. but it will be extremely sloppy... the problem, as far as I am concerned, is not so much about speed or "power", but the ability to able to control the speed.. which has more to do with coordination.

I am student, and not an expert or anything but I guess the 'tapping' analogy(and his assesement of the chopin quote) got me questioned about Jerry's ideas. When you are playing the piano I just don't think it's necessary to lift your fingers like you do when you tap on a table.

#540270 - 02/22/09 09:59 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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One of the hardest things to do on the piano is play pp. There are times when it needs be done with fingers, other times with wrist/arm either way it takes a heck of a lot of control. What name you give to the physical property that allows that control is neither here nor there, but it is not coordination, that only plays a part.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540271 - 02/22/09 12:46 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
One of the hardest things to do on the piano is play pp. There are times when it needs be done with fingers, other times with wrist/arm either way it takes a heck of a lot of control. What name you give to the physical property that allows that control is neither here nor there, but it is not coordination, that only plays a part.
Don't forget the responsiveness of the instrument you are playing on. I used to find it very difficult to play a wide dynamic range until I got my Steinway. Now ppp seems effortless.


Best regards,

Deborah
#540272 - 02/22/09 01:52 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Alright, pppp then (it's all realitive anyway}.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540273 - 02/22/09 03:58 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by JerryS88:
Quote
Originally posted by jazzyprof:
[b]
Quote
Originally posted by JerryS88:
[b] </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by SideShow:
<strong>It's not about strenght, it's about control
It's about strength AND control. [/b]
Jerry, I feel that it is rather disingenuous of you to go back and change the title of a 2-year old thread that you started, a thread that was all about STRENGTH as you yourself state in the above quote. Your original thread was not about building finger speed. By going back and rewriting history it makes it look as if all those respondents didn't know what they were talking about. I think Piano World should disable this ability we have to rewrite history. [/b]
I'm sorry you feel that way, jazzyprof, and that certainly wasn't my intention. I changed the subject line to more ACCURATELY describe the content of my thread. In fact the thread was NOT all about strength, but about the distinction between strength and power. It seems many who responded did not get past the subject line and came to false conclusions about its content without reading through my original post. </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Jazzyprof - I thought a little further about what you said. While I maintain that my new title more accurately describes the content - content which has not changed - I understand your point that many of the posts here responded to the original title. The original title was inaccurate and elicited many responses thinking I was advocating the need to build finger strength - my fault. It happened when I originally posted the thread, and it started happening now that the thread has been resurrected. For that reason I am choosing to keep the new title. However, I have added a paragraph at the top of my first post in this thread explaining the change in title. I hope that will satisfy both the need to respect those who posted under the original title, and the need to correct my original poor and inaccurate title choice.

#540274 - 02/22/09 04:03 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by etcetra:
I may have made the point too much about finger school... I guess my biggest concern (and the point I am really getting at) is that I feel like these exercises are being promoted as if you're supposed to play the piano soley with your fingers... and it ignores the complext body movements that is involved in piano playing

I can play pieces at extremely fast tempo.. but it will be extremely sloppy... the problem, as far as I am concerned, is not so much about speed or "power", but the ability to able to control the speed.. which has more to do with coordination.

I am student, and not an expert or anything but I guess the 'tapping' analogy(and his assesement of the chopin quote) got me questioned about Jerry's ideas. When you are playing the piano I just don't think it's necessary to lift your fingers like you do when you tap on a table.
etcetera - I have made this argument many times on this forum - you don't use just finger articulation or just arm weight and rotation - you use all three in varying degrees depending on the music you are playing. Being able to articulate with the fingers is just one skill required to play the piano - an essential one. In developing finger articulation it helps to isolate it from the arm movements. That is not to say that you do that always when you are playing (sometimes you do, though!).

#540275 - 02/22/09 04:21 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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As a pianist, I don't define technique as the ability of playing "fast". The fact is that most people can play fast and most people have speedy fingers, it's just that the professionals know their pieces better than the amateurs do.

#540276 - 02/22/09 07:23 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Quote
Originally posted by JerryS88:
Jazzyprof - I thought a little further about what you said. While I maintain that my new title more accurately describes the content - content which has not changed - I understand your point that many of the posts here responded to the original title. The original title was inaccurate and elicited many responses thinking I was advocating the need to build finger strength - my fault. It happened when I originally posted the thread, and it started happening now that the thread has been resurrected. For that reason I am choosing to keep the new title. However, I have added a paragraph at the top of my first post in this thread explaining the change in title. I hope that will satisfy both the need to respect those who posted under the original title, and the need to correct my original poor and inaccurate title choice.
Not to give you a hard time or anything, but since this thread has been resurrected, I believe that a discussion of all these issues regarding finger strength, power, and speed is in order.

Your new title "Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!" is also not quite accurate. You imply in the title and your comments that Power and Speed are essentially the same thing or that one leads to the other. Power is FORCE times SPEED so for the same power you can have a lot of force and little speed or a lot of speed and little force.

Sprinters need power because they are fighting gravity. They propel themselves by applying a mostly vertical force to the ground with their legs. The reaction force bounces them up and sustains them briefly above ground. The force times the rate at which this force is applied is the power. For a pianist, however, gravity is an ally not a foe. It helps us depress the keys as it pulls our arm down. We do not need much force to depress the keys hence the power requirements are minimal. In fact we achieve the greatest velocity by minimizing the distance through which the fingers move. You play fast by keeping the fingers close to the keys. Speed is obtained through the coordinated rapid downward motion of the fingers plus a sideways motion of the arm, aided by rotation.

To demonstrate that pianists don't need much POWER in order to obtain SPEED, let me pose this question: what is the fastest that one can play the sequence of notes CDEFG? The answer: infinite speed! You simply play the sequence as a chord, all notes in parallel. This same infinite speed is achieved whether you are a 2-year old baby or a 400lb weight-lifter. If you insist that the notes be heard separately, then the fastest you can play the sequence is limited by how fast you can wiggle your fingers or rotate your forearm. In my humble opinion, all of this has very little to do with power or strength.

Sprinters need strength and power to gain speed. Pianists gain speed by, well, playing fast! smile


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#540277 - 02/22/09 07:47 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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Leon Bates is a concert pianist who also does body building; I have yet to hear him say that weights training helped his playing wink


Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.
#540278 - 02/22/09 09:11 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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jazzyprof

thanks for your post!! you've managed to say what I was trying to say, except 10 times better smile

I totally agree with your point. Anyone can play very fast, the problem is that we lose control the faster we play. The solution is not to increase "power" but to find the most efficient arm/hand/finger movement that will allow you to play whatever passages you're having difficulty on.

We can all wiggle our fingers very fast, and with rotation you can play CDEFG even faster...anyone can play super-fast, but they will sound sloppy and uneven. The problem really isn't about speed, its about control.

#540279 - 02/22/09 10:27 PM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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JerryS88 Offline
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JerryS88  Offline
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Jazzyprof and etcetera - I don't have the time or energy to argue your points in detail right now, but I do want to mention that the example both of you provide, that of playing a sequence of five consecutive notes, is simply unrealistic. Of course one can easily play five consecutive notes with exceedingly fast speed relying mostly if not entirely on quick weight transference and rotation, but how much music is made up of groups of 5 consecutive notes? Real music changes directions in infinite combinations and puts us in situations where rotation and weight transference are near to or completely impossible. Additionally, we all know that our fourth finger is weaker than the rest. Relying on weight and rotation every time the 4th finger is played is a compromise solution that is problematic in my experience - it is not always possible, and often using just finger articulation allows for greater speed. Finally, if all we did at the piano was to drop our fingers (gravity) we would stop dead in our tracks as soon as we've played all five fingers unless they are lifted after they play. Relying solely on rotation to lift them forces us to play with rotation all the time, which means always involving movements of the forearm. My experience has shown me that lifting the fingers alone is far more efficient, which makes logical sense to me - it is far lighter to lift a single finger than it is to rotate the entire forearm. I know I am going to get blasted now for these comments, but these are my thoughts based on my long experience which includes a lot of weight and rotation training. I leave the last word to both of you - I've run out of steam for these discussions (I did not resurrect this thread).

#540280 - 02/23/09 12:42 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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etcetra Offline
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Jerry, I really dont know what to say, but to tell you perhaps it will help you to be better acquainted with the idea of rotation/arm weight, rather than arguing about it based on your interpretation of what those ideas mean

btw I decided to comment on this only because you mentioned this in the "Hanon ... it's not that bad !!" thread. In the thread You specifically said ", but if you really want to develop your technique in as efficient a way possible, I suggest you check out my comments regarding Hanon exercises in the middle of this thread".

I personally don't have problem with you sharing your experiences and your discoveries, but I do find it disconcerting that you are willing to suggest your method as if you were an authority on this subject. Your methods are not scientifically/academically proven nor is it a widely accepted method of learning. My biggest concern is that a less-informed beginning student might take what you say seriously and end up hurting themselves

Again, I don't have problem with you sharing us what you've discovered.. I do appreciate it, even though we may disagree on how helpful it is. But it would have made a big difference if you presented this information as your personal opinion/experience instead of preaching it like an authority on this subject matter.

#540281 - 02/23/09 02:29 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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keyboardklutz Offline
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London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Quote
Originally posted by jazzyprof:
...then the fastest you can play the sequence is limited by how fast you can wiggle your fingers or rotate your forearm. In my humble opinion, all of this has very little to do with power or strength.
So, you could keep this up for a lengthy period of time without fingers getting strained/tired?


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#540282 - 02/23/09 02:58 AM Re: Building Finger SPEED (Power) - NOT STRENGTH!  
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jazzyprof Offline
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jazzyprof  Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
Quote
Originally posted by jazzyprof:
[b]...then the fastest you can play the sequence is limited by how fast you can wiggle your fingers or rotate your forearm. In my humble opinion, all of this has very little to do with power or strength.
So, you could keep this up for a lengthy period of time without fingers getting strained/tired? [/b]
I'm not sure what you're asking. Are you talking about endurance and stamina? Again those have nothing to do with power and strength otherwise sprinters would routinely win marathons. In any case I would think the fingers are less likely to get strained/tired if aided by a relaxed arm.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
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