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Tense shoulders #546903
02/20/03 03:56 AM
02/20/03 03:56 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,519
European Union
benedict Offline OP
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benedict  Offline OP
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I notice that my shoulders are tense whatever I play.
Have any of you experience that ?
I wonder if it will go away naturally when my practice has been "reengeenered" on a natural base of if I should do specific exercizes to relaxe these shoulders.

Any ideas or experiences ?


Benedict
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Re: Tense shoulders #546904
02/20/03 04:29 AM
02/20/03 04:29 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 836
Irvine, CA
mkesfahani Offline
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mkesfahani  Offline
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Irvine, CA
I think it's safe to say that everyone at one point or another had or still has tense shoulders when they play. The best thing that I can recommend is to relax and always be aware of it, correcting any tension you might feel.

Mike

Re: Tense shoulders #546905
02/20/03 04:51 PM
02/20/03 04:51 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,677
Auckland, New Zealand
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Auckland, New Zealand
Mike's right. The ideal is to make all playing a type of yoga with complete concentrated unity of body, mind, sound and instrument. I think we all get excited every now and then though. If your shoulders are tense then other things are probably tense too. Once you've acquired the trick of setting off a mental alarm when tension arises, you can consciously correct it. Then after a while relaxation becomes a habit and you won't need to think about it any more.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Tense shoulders #546906
02/20/03 05:37 PM
02/20/03 05:37 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 2,046
Portland, Oregon
.rvaga* Offline
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.rvaga*  Offline
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Portland, Oregon
Benedict,

All good advice above. Many of us had to learn to relax muscle groups, perhaps even finding it difficult to determine when the muscle group WAS relaxed! With students, it's much more common for males to be tense and overuse muscles instead of learning to relax and use balance.

You might also examine your seating height. Perhaps you are sitting a bit low, and "shrugging" your shoulders slightly to compensate, without realizing it.
Also check your shoulder to elbow alignment. If you are holding your elbows too close or even touching your body, move back slightly and allow your elbows to hang freely from the shoulder. Drawing the elbows in can cause the shoulders to go up.

Or, have a couple of blasts of that French wine! This causes the pain and suffering to transfer from the body. . .to the music.

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Re: Tense shoulders #546907
02/20/03 07:32 PM
02/20/03 07:32 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,677
Auckland, New Zealand
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Rvaga:

Now you're cooking with gas ! I had a couple of glasses of wine last night and Winter Wind blew a treat after it. Unfortunately there's a very small margin between loss of tension and unmitigated disaster. Two glasses is about it.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Tense shoulders #546908
02/21/03 06:39 AM
02/21/03 06:39 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,519
European Union
benedict Offline OP
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benedict  Offline OP
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European Union
Quote
Or, have a couple of blasts of that French wine! This causes the pain and suffering to transfer from the body. . .to the music.
Thank you Rvavga.

There might be a little problem though : my piano practice is the first thing I start with when I get up in the morning.

Then, I have a whole day of work.

I wonder what wine will be best in the morning before breakfast. What do you think.

Thank you for all the advice : I'll try them all.

I have an idea for that tension. Don't know what it's worth.
Maybe the lack of confidence I developed because of not mastering sightreading and memorizing caused this tension to become automatic.
I hope starting all over again on a base that is sound will cause my shoulders in a few months to say "OK. Now, you can play the piano"
Like the passenger of a bad driver who relaxes because he has become a good one.
smile


Benedict
Re: Tense shoulders #546909
02/21/03 02:18 PM
02/21/03 02:18 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 902
Philly, PA
PianoMuse Offline
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PianoMuse  Offline
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Philly, PA
Don't forget to stretch!
I take about 10-15 minutes before I play to stretch. I loosen my shoulders, align myself and breathe deeply.
Also, every half hour or so when you'r playing, take a break! Walk around, and stretch for about 5 minutes, get a glass of water.


"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." ~Rachmaninoff
Re: Tense shoulders #546910
02/22/03 08:01 AM
02/22/03 08:01 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 717
England
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Praetorian_AD Offline
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England
Yeah I second Pianomuse's simple (but effective) advice. I saw her post about the a few weeks ago and have been stretching for about 5 mins each day before it, just gently touching my toes, rolling my shoulders and arms, and breathing deeply. It's made me feel more relaxed and agile when I get to playing, and probably saves me time in the end.

Re: Tense shoulders #546911
02/22/03 12:05 PM
02/22/03 12:05 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 6,467
Phoenix, AZ
Nina Offline
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Nina  Offline
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Phoenix, AZ
I have the same problem with tension while I play-- enough that sometimes my back aches enough for me to have to stop playing. Yuck.

In addition to all the above advice, this might help. (It's just something I do, not a technique or something suggested by my teacher.)

If I stop to notice, I realize that I am sitting like a ramrod at the piano bench... tension has built up to a really high pitch. When that occurs, I find it useful to move a lot while playing. Think Liberace, or some over-the-top concert pianist. Throw your hands to the keys, hunch over until your nose is practically on the keys (then sit up again) wave your elbows back and forth, etc, sway to what you're playing. Just moving around will loosen up my posture a lot, and help me realize what areas of my body were tense (usually all!).

Nina

PS: Amy, I like your stretching idea and will try it.

Re: Tense shoulders #546912
02/22/03 02:23 PM
02/22/03 02:23 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 18
TN, USA
Stanton Offline
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Stanton  Offline
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Posts: 18
TN, USA
piano muse is right. also try yoga or any form of deep breathing and stretching. if your back starts hurting, do yourself a favor and stop playing until it is better. you lose a lot more time to an injury than you will to letting it heal. just ask leon fleischer!

Re: Tense shoulders #546913
02/22/03 10:54 PM
02/22/03 10:54 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,386
Maine, U.S.
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RachFan Offline
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Sometimes when a pianist becomes absorbed in playing a challenging piece, there's a tendency for the shoulders to rise upward and remain in that uncomfortable position. More often than not the pianist is oblivious to it--until discomfort sets in, not only in the shoulders, but sometimes even in the neck too. Without a mirror, the pianist cannot at that moment actually see the obvious postural problem, so remains mystified as to the cause of the tenseness. The best "medicine" for this is to be ever alert for raised shoulders during playing and to consciously tell oneself to lower them to a normal, relaxed postion should the condition occur. The more you do this, the less the shoulders will get into that high, awkward, and tense position in the first place. And eventually the troublesome tendency or habit will disappear altogether. I hope this helps.

Re: Tense shoulders #546914
02/23/03 06:00 AM
02/23/03 06:00 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 2,519
European Union
benedict Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
benedict  Offline OP
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Posts: 2,519
European Union
Thank you : all these advice are useful.

What I will try is
1 Tell my shoulders to stay low or...

2 Be more conscious of the moments when I make an effort instead of enjoying myself.
And find a way to reduce the level of difficulty by changing the speed of playing hands separate.


Benedict
Re: Tense shoulders #546915
02/23/03 07:15 AM
02/23/03 07:15 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,313
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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BruceD  Offline
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Victoria, BC
Folks:

As we sometimes audio-tape our playing to hear ourselves as others hear us (how revealing - and sometimes disappointing - that can be!), it might be a good idea to video tape our playing to watch for all sorts of physical clues to building tension. It might reveal other idiosyncracies in our playing styles, too, that we might want to try to correct.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Tense shoulders #546916
02/23/03 06:24 PM
02/23/03 06:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,386
Maine, U.S.
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Yes, when I was studying, I recorded everything, both in progress and when polished. Listening to your out takes can be most revealing. Recording is a great (and humbling) teaching tool for oneself.

Videotaping, which I have not done, would add another dimension. I'm sure everyone here has seen some astonishing mannerisms at recitals. If those pianists could only see themselves on videotape, they would be far more conscious of those things. The same with watching ourselves in action. Great idea!


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