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Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically

Posted By: prout

Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/19/16 09:33 PM

Just read an interesting article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2100211/

"...descriptions of variations in muscles and tendons are often neglected. Though these may appear esoteric and of little relevance among the general population, they can be highly significant for those who must carry out skilled movements that lie close to the limit of what is physically possible. In some individuals, certain muscles or tendons may be absent entirely, or their form or attachments may differ from the norm. For example, the flexor digitorum superficialis tendon to the little finger is missing in about 5% of hands (Miller et al. 2003). The intrinsic muscles of the hand make a major contribution to finger dexterity and the independence of finger movement, so it is particularly significant that variation is frequently observed in the attachments of the lumbricals (Fig. 1). These muscles allow the two terminal (interphalangeal) joints of the fingers to be straightened while the knuckle (metacarpo-phalangeal) joint is flexed. As many as 50% of hands do not show the ‘standard’ pattern (Mehta & Gardner, 1961; Perkins & Hast, 1993). In up to one-third of hands, the tendon of the third lumbrical divides to insert into both the ring and the middle fingers (Fig. 1A), whereas in a small number of cases there is no lumbrical insertion on the little finger at all. Therefore, regardless of the degree of training, not all musicians are capable of the same finger movements. (Emphasis mine) Some practical examples of the problems this produces for pianists and how they be overcome are discussed by Beauchamp (2003b,c).'

This is just a small sample of the variations in the ligaments/tendons/muscles discussed in this article. An awareness of the variations may prove beneficial to the teacher.

Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/19/16 09:46 PM

The article also disusses the variations in tendon connections within the carpal tunnel which lead to pain and inflammation.

It discusses the potential for mathematical modelling of the variations in tendon interconnections with the goal of creating finger exercises to improve finger independence.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/19/16 11:10 PM

The practical result:

Some people can do things that other people cannot, and no amount of teaching/training will completely negate that fact.

What this means in the real world: I had a girl I taught for a number of years who had the weakest, bendiest fingers I've ever seen. She was incapable of keeping any kind of curvature in her fingers, and we just ignored that problem and played.

Obviously she was never going to be a successful pianist, performing, but she had fun and actually could play some things.

I could have made both of us crazy by trying to make her play in the normal manner. Most likely she just would have quit in frustration, feeling like a failure. She was a delightful kid, now a very intelligent and charming young adult.

Obviously I was not going to have her have extensive tests to find out what was going on. Most people don't have money for that.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/19/16 11:14 PM

I don't think extensive tests are a requirement when one encounters an unusual hand construction. Knowledge, however, that differences exist, is useful in training the neural pathways to increase finger independence.

I would highly recommend reading the entire article.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/19/16 11:40 PM

Originally Posted by prout
I don't think extensive tests are a requirement when one encounters an unusual hand construction. Knowledge, however, that differences exist, is useful in training the neural pathways to increase finger independence.

I would highly recommend reading the entire article.

I skimmed it, but most of it uses technical terms that might as well be in Martian.

For me it is probably what an untrained musicians sees in a detailed analysis of a Bach fugue...

I have to go by instinct. Some hands simply won't do certain things, and forcing someone to try to do something when that person simply can't do it is madness.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 12:02 AM


Yes, there are obvious differences between hands. This article digs deeper into the non-obvious ones.

One thing that came up in another thread is that apparently most people can play a 1-3 octave as easily as using 1-5. I can't. I can barely manage to stretch 1-3 to an octave, but it hurts more than a 1-5 tenth.

The practical result of all this is that published fingerings should always be subject to personal reconsideration. Maybe you get lucky and find an editor who fingers well for you, but if not, toss 'em and do your own.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 12:55 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by prout
I don't think extensive tests are a requirement when one encounters an unusual hand construction. Knowledge, however, that differences exist, is useful in training the neural pathways to increase finger independence.

I would highly recommend reading the entire article.

I skimmed it, but most of it uses technical terms that might as well be in Martian.

For me it is probably what an untrained musicians sees in a detailed analysis of a Bach fugue...

I have to go by instinct. Some hands simply won't do certain things, and forcing someone to try to do something when that person simply can't do it is madness.


Sorry to state this, but teaching by instinct is what causes poor pianists and is bad teaching. My wife, a voice teacher, says that the primary goal of any teacher is to spot the tension, recognize the cause, and alleviate the tension. Instinct is useless in this pursuit. The tension that results from a lack of knowledge of the human body causes injury and disappointment.

The language used in the paper, while erudite, does not get in the way of the basic knowledge available to an interested party.

On second thought, I think a few basic tests of a beginning piano student, to determine of they lack, or have, the tendon connections that allow them to progress normally, or to require an alternative approach, or to suggest a different instrument, would be very valid.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 12:58 AM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Yes, there are obvious differences between hands. This article digs deeper into the non-obvious ones.

One thing that came up in another thread is that apparently most people can play a 1-3 octave as easily as using 1-5. I can't. I can barely manage to stretch 1-3 to an octave, but it hurts more than a 1-5 tenth.

The practical result of all this is that published fingerings should always be subject to personal reconsideration. Maybe you get lucky and find an editor who fingers well for you, but if not, toss 'em and do your own.


While they may be non-obvious to the eye, they, in many cases, occur in a significant percentage of the population. Ignoring the 'normal' variation, recognizing that the tendon connections of the hand is not standard, is hugely valuable to teaching a musical instrument.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 01:17 AM

Prout, I read the article. I have yet to see a scientific article where the studies were created by and carried out by trained experienced musicians, and preferably by those who have extensive experience teaching effectively - preferably from the ground up.

The article focuses on hands and fingers. It starts with them and ends with them. The writer and whoever seem to assume that piano is played by the hands and fingers. Further on I came to a part discussing the ability to lift one finger up high - I think maybe finger 4 unless it was 5. I assume while keeping other fingers down. Why would anyone want to do that? And what knowledge of piano technique and modern knowledge are these researchers missing?

Do the researchers know that when you play the piano effectively, the whole body works together: that the arms and hands work together; that notes can be played through motions such as rotation etc? Have these researchers taken the time to learn about piano technique, and study the work done by experts in those fields? Or have they just made an assumption that the piano is played with the hands and fingers?

Do piano teachers really need to be told that different people have different kinds of bodies? Students come into their studios who are tall, short, limber, tight, jerky, fluid - long bodies and short arms - short bodies and long arms - and with all kinds of dispositions, personalities, and abilities.

Quote
The tension that results from a lack of knowledge of the human body causes injury and disappointment.

Do not assume that when an experienced teacher talks of "instinct", that this instinct does not comprise a great deal of knowledge, including of the body. I would be leery of a teacher who based their teaching on this kind of article. Otoh, a lot of work has been done on effective movement within the context of playing instruments: and again, in such areas as Alexander, Feldenkrais, etc., which look at the body as a whole and how it works together. The latter are not within the area of music, but are often used by musicians, both instrumental and voice.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 03:52 AM

I would not attempt to teach a person how to fly on the basis on reqding one article. But one article can add immensly to the sum of my experience teaching flying by providing new and 'out of the box' ideas about the interaction of the pilot with the aircraft.

Rather than dismiss ideas that are foreign or new to me, I would prefer to embrace the knowledge, add it to my arsenal, and be able to argue both sides from a position of knowledge, rather than ignorance.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 05:59 AM

Originally Posted by prout

Sorry to state this, but teaching by instinct is what causes poor pianists and is bad teaching. My wife, a voice teacher, says that the primary goal of any teacher is to spot the tension, recognize the cause, and alleviate the tension. Instinct is useless in this pursuit. The tension that results from a lack of knowledge of the human body causes injury and disappointment.

Sorry. This teacher who causes the development of poor pianists and is engaging daily in bad teaching will stay out of the discussion while you continue this thread with all the other interested participants.

Have a nice day.
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:37 AM

In relation to piano teachers the conclusion from this article is as follows: the teacher must take into account not only the external structure of the student hands, but also the internal anatomy . which requires the relevant snapshots by MRI or X-rays - I don't know ; and ability to orient in them. In this sense, the piano teacher is no different from the doctor: Both consciously want to help, not harm.
Posted By: JohnSprung

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:59 AM


I'm not so sure that X-rays or MRI's are really necessary. Functional tests -- try this, is it comfortable? -- may be devised to determine what works best for an individual.

Posted By: Nahum

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 09:08 AM

Originally Posted by JohnSprung

I'm not so sure that X-rays or MRI's are really necessary. Functional tests -- try this, is it comfortable? -- may be devised to determine what works best for an individual.

And yet, we don't study outer look of pupil arms by palpation with closed eyes and by guessing ,but we look at them and their movements. Similarly, is required look from inside. The fact that it is not accepted, doesn't negate the need.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 01:47 PM

Much of the discussion here on PW is about new students who present to teachers with tension problems or lack the most basic knowledge about how to sit at the piano, seat height and distance, posture for reaching the extremes of the piano, scale and arpeggio fingerings for varying hand sizes and so on.

A piano teacher armed with knowledge of the body, in particular the structure of the hands and their variability, is better prepared to help these students.

Even better is a teacher armed with this knowledge who can start a student from scratch so they don't end up playing with tension.
Posted By: chopin_r_us

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 03:10 PM

Originally Posted by prout

Even better is a teacher armed with this knowledge who can start a student from scratch so they don't end up playing with tension.
My point entirely!
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 03:53 PM

Originally Posted by keystring
Further on I came to a part discussing the ability to lift one finger up high - I think maybe finger 4 unless it was 5. I assume while keeping other fingers down. Why would anyone want to do that?


You ask a valid question.

As an organist, I learned at the age of 12 to play legato by using finger substitution. In order to do that, one must lift a finger onto the same key that is being currently held by another finger.

Also, when holding a chord, one should be able to play other notes with the remaining fingers, including trills.

Being able to lift your 4th or 5th finger, when the others are engaged in holding a chord, is essential for playing Bach fugues without the overuse of sustain pedal.

The ability to lift any finger independently of the other fingers opens up an entire area of musical expression - if pursued.

Edit: Good example: Try playing Bach WTC fugue #1 legato with no sustain pedal. You will be lifting fingers while others are down all the time.


Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 04:28 PM

keystring: perfect example - Bach WTC fugue #4 - basic rep

[Linked Image]

How do you play the repeated f#a thirds while holding c# with your fifth finger?

edit: Actually, this is a poor example since one can rotate the hand about the 5th finger. I was thinking of the same measure but with the thumb holding the lower c# as well.
Posted By: outo

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 05:02 PM

Originally Posted by keystring
Prout, I read the article. I have yet to see a scientific article where the studies were created by and carried out by trained experienced musicians, and preferably by those who have extensive experience teaching effectively - preferably from the ground up.

The article focuses on hands and fingers. It starts with them and ends with them. The writer and whoever seem to assume that piano is played by the hands and fingers. Further on I came to a part discussing the ability to lift one finger up high - I think maybe finger 4 unless it was 5. I assume while keeping other fingers down. Why would anyone want to do that? And what knowledge of piano technique and modern knowledge are these researchers missing?

Do the researchers know that when you play the piano effectively, the whole body works together: that the arms and hands work together; that notes can be played through motions such as rotation etc? Have these researchers taken the time to learn about piano technique, and study the work done by experts in those fields? Or have they just made an assumption that the piano is played with the hands and fingers?.


They don't have to because their study focuses on hands and fingers which are necessary to play the piano. I am yet to read the study, but if it's competently done it answers the questions that were asked, nothing more. They may suggest findings for future study. I doubt this kind of research could even be done by teachers or pianists. Their skills are elsewhere.

There are other studies that show correlation between certain hand morphology and injuries. I think it should already be clear that some hands are better for playing the piano than others. But I still read statements even from teachers that it's only a matter of technique. So obviously this kind of research is needed...
Posted By: SonatainfSharp

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:13 PM

Originally Posted by outo

They don't have to because their study focuses on hands and fingers which are necessary to play the piano.

Didn't Mozart use his nose? Sorry, I couldn't help it...
Posted By: laguna_greg

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:56 PM

My teaching has focused to a large extent on people with injuries. And even with that preponderance, I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context.

I have worked with many people with different kinds of physiological limitations, but never those described there.

Which makes me think two things. 1- these issues are really quite rare, and 2- people who have them are generally not encouraged to learn to play at the very outset of their studies. So they are weeded out right from the start, whether they could be taught to play with the right technical approach.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:56 PM

Originally Posted by outo

They don't have to because their study focuses on hands and fingers which are necessary to play the piano. I am yet to read the study, but if it's competently done it answers the questions that were asked, nothing more.

One sentence:

For example, the muscle bellies of flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis and of extensor digitorum communis that act on different fingers are partially fused, so contraction in any one will produce some passive movement of the others.

Muscle Belly (or Muscle Body)
The whole unit of a skeletal muscle, the level of organization at which the muscle is named (eg biceps brachii, or pectoralis major). Muscle bellies of skeletal muscle can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have the same basic composition.

In human anatomy, the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP, Latin for "deep bender of the fingers") is a muscle in the forearm that flexes the fingers (also known as digits). It is considered an extrinsic hand muscle because it acts on the hand while its muscle belly is located in the forearm. Together the flexor pollicis longus, pronator quadratus, and flexor digitorum profundus form the deep layer of ventral forearm muscles.

Flexor Digitorum Superficialis

Flexor Digitorum Superficialis is sometimes also known as Flexor Digitorum Sublimis. It is one of the wrist flexor muscles found in the palm side of the forearm and wrist.

Extensor digitorum muscle: It arises from the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, by the common tendon; from the intermuscular septa between it and the adjacent muscles, and from the antebrachial fascia. It divides below into four tendons, which pass, together with that of the extensor indicis proprius, through a separate compartment of the dorsal carpal ligament, within a mucous sheath. The tendons then diverge on the back of the hand, and are inserted into the middle and distal phalanges of the fingers in the following manner. [2]
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:57 PM

Originally Posted by laguna_greg
My teaching has focused to a large extent on people with injuries. And even with that preponderance, I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context.

I have worked with many people with different kinds of physiological limitations, but never those described there.

Which makes me think two things. 1- these issues are really quite rare, and 2- people who have them are generally not encouraged to learn to play at the very outset of their studies. So they are weeded out right from the start, whether they could be taught to play with the right technical approach.

Finally, some sanity in this thread!
Posted By: laguna_greg

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 07:57 PM

Originally Posted by prout
keystring: perfect example - Bach WTC fugue #4 - basic rep

[Linked Image]

How do you play the repeated f#a thirds while holding c# with your fifth finger?

edit: Actually, this is a poor example since one can rotate the hand about the 5th finger. I was thinking of the same measure but with the thumb holding the lower c# as well.


I have an answer for that. You let your arm play that repeated note for you, if the c# were in fact held.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 08:00 PM

Elephant in the room: Organ technique and piano technique are worlds apart. While there are things in common, obviously, the skills needed to play a Bach fugue and to play a Chopin etude are for the most part worlds apart.
Posted By: laguna_greg

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 08:02 PM

And another thing:

"Therefore, regardless of the degree of training, not all musicians are capable of the same finger movements. "

While this is quite true, it misses a very important point. Namely, that it may be possible for those pianists to play the same textures anyway, using a different movement strategy.

This kind of myopia is is very common in scientific research, as the scientists think their studies have answered a "relevant" question for teachers and pianists. Except that they are not teachers, nor are they generally pianists of any degree of skill, so their questions ARE USUALLY THE WRONG ONES.

While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit.
Posted By: laguna_greg

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 08:06 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

One sentence:

For example, the muscle bellies of flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum superficialis and of extensor digitorum communis that act on different fingers are partially fused, so contraction in any one will produce some passive movement of the others.


Oops. That's a big elephant in the room.

The fact is that independence of the fingers is an unobtainable myth, and also not necessary to meet the demands of the literature.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 09:28 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Elephant in the room: Organ technique and piano technique are worlds apart. While there are things in common, obviously, the skills needed to play a Bach fugue and to play a Chopin etude are for the most part worlds apart.


Are you and organist as well as a pianist? The skills learned on organ - legato playing using finger substitution, thumb scales and 45,45,45 scales have immensly improved my piano technique. I don't need or use sustain when the texture and sonority of the moment is better served by not using it.

I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

The skills needed to play a Bach fugue, IMO, is much greater than that required to play much of Chopin's repertoire. I say that based on the way Chopin's music lies so well under the hands - clearly written for the piano by a pianist, whereas much of Bach's music seems to be written from a more intellectual point of view such that the lines must go where they go, even if it makes the playing awkward. Bach occasionally added notes to lines where the movement or harmony required them that did not exist in the instrument.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 09:43 PM

Originally Posted by prout
I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

I take it you don't realize what you wrote comes across as condescending.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 09:50 PM

Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by prout
keystring: perfect example - Bach WTC fugue #4 - basic rep

[Linked Image]

How do you play the repeated f#a thirds while holding c# with your fifth finger?

edit: Actually, this is a poor example since one can rotate the hand about the 5th finger. I was thinking of the same measure but with the thumb holding the lower c# as well.


I have an answer for that. You let your arm play that repeated note for you, if the c# were in fact held.


You would have to demonstrate that for me. I tried holding both C#4 and C#5 while playing the internal line which includes three F#4A4s, the third occurring while the 5th finger slides down from C#5 to B4. I could not do it by just lifting my arm. The slight weight required to hold C#4/C#5 requires that the repeated F#4A4s occur by releasing the slight tension required to play them. One does not have to lift the finger off the key, but, if the 5th finger cannot be contolled independently, to some extent, from the 4th finger, the 5th finger will relax along with the 4th finger, breaking the legato line.
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 09:55 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by prout
I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

I take it you don't realize what you wrote comes across as condescending.


Oh, I know it comes across as condescending. I had to assume a pianist, on a piano forum, would be familier with the WTC. I explicity mentioned it regarding fugues, and gave two examples from the WTC. I did not, at any time, refer to Bach's copious organ literature comprising fugues, which are vastly easier to play, given that you have four, not two, limbs to execute the complex fugal patterns of the master.

edit: editorial
Posted By: prout

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 10:12 PM

Originally Posted by laguna_greg
And another thing:

"Therefore, regardless of the degree of training, not all musicians are capable of the same finger movements. "

While this is quite true, it misses a very important point. Namely, that it may be possible for those pianists to play the same textures anyway, using a different movement strategy.

This kind of myopia is is very common in scientific research, as the scientists think their studies have answered a "relevant" question for teachers and pianists. Except that they are not teachers, nor are they generally pianists of any degree of skill, so their questions ARE USUALLY THE WRONG ONES.

While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit.


Greg,

I appreciate and admire the work you do helping injured pianists recover. Your knowledge and experience is incredibly useful and yiur contributions here add to our knowledge as well.

But, yours is not the only source. You say, on the one hand - "I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context." The article refers to very significant portions of the population that present deviation from 'normal'. It describes the interconnections of tendons and tendon sheaths as being so variable that the 'normal' description is invalid the the majority of the population.

But then you say "While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit."

These two statements are somewhat at odds. It could be, as you described earlier, that the students with a deficit are weeded out early on, so they don't present to you.

Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/20/16 10:23 PM

Originally Posted by prout

Are you and organist as well as a pianist?

No. I do not play organ.
Quote

The skills learned on organ - legato playing using finger substitution, thumb scales and 45,45,45 scales have immensly improved my piano technique. I don't need or use sustain when the texture and sonority of the moment is better served by not using it.

OK. But using that thinking anyone who specializes on playing Bach on the piano is also not playing organ, and I can tell you for a fact that Gould, for example, uses subtle pedaling in Bach, which is necessary on the piano.

I'm familiar with the thinking that we should be able to play anything without pedal, even if pedal is a key component of the playing, and I totally disagree with this thinking.
Quote

I take it you don't play Bach's WTC 1&2, which was not written for the organ and is, today, most often performed on piano.

You make a lot of assumptions, and the way you communicate is extremely condescending. Of course the WTC was not written for piano, and it's rather obvious that it is played a great deal on the piano today, most often on the modern piano.

But why in heaven's name would you jump to the conclusion that I don't play the WTC? I don't play it on organ. I don't play it on harpsichord or clavichord.
Quote

The skills needed to play a Bach fugue, IMO, is much greater than that required to play much of Chopin's repertoire.

I don't know why when people type "IMO" it immediately excuses any statement made next. Bach fugues, even the most simple ones, are not easy. I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible

But Chopin did not write easy music either, and comparing Bach to Chopin is a real apples to oranges comparison. I'm not even going there. I'll only say that the music of all the great composers is challenging, in different ways, and no one plays the music of all composers equally well.
Quote

I say that based on the way Chopin's music lies so well under the hands - clearly written for the piano by a pianist, whereas much of Bach's music seems to be written from a more intellectual point of view such that the lines must go where they go, even if it makes the playing awkward.

That is looking at the music of Bach through a 20th and 21st century lens.

If you cut your teeth on Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov, that music is going to feel more natural and more accessible. It will be what you know best.

If you work on Bach from the get-go, and that is what you most love, most likely you will be better at the skills necessary to play Bach.

I have one adult student who would play nothing but Bach for the rest of his life, if he could, and I'm 100% fine with that. It makes teaching him interesting. He plays Bach much better than Chopin.

If you are saying that playing most of the advanced music of Bach is extremely difficult, I'm going to agree with you in a heartbeat. If you are saying that Bach places specific demands on the hands and the brain that no other composer asks for, I'm going to agree with that.

But I'm not going to go farther than that. It's pointless.
Posted By: laguna_greg

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 02:16 AM

Originally Posted by prout

Greg,

I appreciate and admire the work you do helping injured pianists recover. Your knowledge and experience is incredibly useful and yiur contributions here add to our knowledge as well.



Prout, I know you do, and I'm very grateful for it. It's a level of acceptance and respect I don't always meet with out in the world.

Originally Posted by prout

But, yours is not the only source. You say, on the one hand - "I have never come across anyone with the missing physiological "equipment" as described in this article, in any context."


Oops, I didn't say that very well. Please do let me clarify, lest I risk making myself completely misunderstood.

My professional experience leads to believe in the rarity of these deficits. My clinical and field case files up to this point run into the thousands, with about a third of them being musicians. Also my clinical collaborators, doctors all with a few very fine and respected hand surgeons thrown in for color, have hardly ever reported or referred to a case of this kind to me, even in passing. And they've seen probably at least 10 times the number of cases I have, most likely more. I'm certain they must consult on cases like this, but they have never referred one to me professionally or even mentioned one in passing.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, the number of cases involved in my practice alonwe is statistically significant. Is it also meaningful? Maybe, maybe not as there is no randomization or control for these factors. It could be that none of those people live where I work! I'm not kidding. However, it does reinforce my perception that these deficits are indeed a rarity. and I also think that if any of the providers I know thought I could do their patients some good, they would have referred them to me. I ALSO know that it's MORE likely than not that I would have spotted the deficit before the doctors do or even the PTs. Medicine these days tends to be a reactive intervention than the other way around.

Originally Posted by prout

But then you say "While it's useful to know about these limitations, it doesn't help the teacher in any way develop or modify a technique that will overcome the deficit."


Prout, I'm sure you must be aware that the news of these kinds of structural deficits as recessive traits in the population is old. I first heard about this when I was in high school, in particular the sharing of the lifting tendons in the 4th fingers.

My first teacher in high school was an excellent teacher, who also knew about this deficit in 4th finger lifting. But knowing about it did not help her develop a teaching strategy to overcome it. Rather, it reinforced her very orthodox French/Russian technical approach, to overcome it with individuation, exercise and stretching. As did every other major teacher in my state.

Which does not work, as we now know categorically in the research. Doing too much of that was how I got injured as a teenager.

That's why I say that the mere knowledge of these problems is not enough to change our approach to teaching and intervention. There has to also be a breakthrough in theory that comes at the problem from the other end. Another way to say it, is that scientists have yet to come up with ways to avoid these problems including injury, despite their great understanding of the limitations themselves. That's not what they do, and it's not what they're good at. But there are a few music teachers who have, because that's how they see the problem.

Originally Posted by prout

These two statements are somewhat at odds. It could be, as you described earlier, that the students with a deficit are weeded out early on, so they don't present to you.


That could very well be the case, when it comes to playing an instrument. But it doesn't hold when it comes to typing, because the world now types and texts, including people who don't even have hands. It's the reason I've had the career I had. If congenital malformation of the forearm and its constituent parts was in any way a more common problem, I would have read, seen or heard something of it occupationally or industrially. And I haven't!

I can also say it this way: 5% of the population is truly a lot of people, as you say. But that still makes it very rare. It's like sickle cell anemia. Do you know any people who have it? I don't, and I know many, many people in the affected target populations. That doesn't mean that it doesn't affect a large number of people, because it does. However, it's still a small enough per cent of the population that the conditions seems quite rare.

Does any of this begin to answer any of your concerns?
Posted By: outo

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 05:21 AM

Isn't it common sense that anyone can learn to play the piano if they have hands and enough fingers? But can anyone learn to play anything in the piano literature and play it as well?

I've had lessons with a few visiting teachers besides my own. They have not questioned my technique in playing the pieces I've played for them. But one of them said when I mentioned my inability to play RH octaves that It's because I have not studied with him. Thus claiming that he has some secret weapons my teacher hasn't. It took my teacher few years to admit defeat in this, we've tried everything but there's just no way to get around the structure problems in my hand and fingers. Since I can do 7ths just fine a smaller keyboard is the only option for me to play pieces where faking does not sound good enough. Maybe a casual listener could be fooled, but my own ears won't.

I've seen this kind of attitude with some teachers who teach at a higher level: If the student is unable to achieve the goals or is injured in trying to do the impossible, he can be discarded and the teacher never has to question his methods. Mostly these teachers only teach a selective bunch anyway, a student reaching that stage mostly has what it takes physically to play all kinds of material.

This may not feel important when teaching more basic material, but for some people what's conventional may be uncomfortable and create tension even then, so a good teacher should understand that there are differences and they can present individual problems that they may not have encountered before even if experienced. Instead of insisting the usual ways and exercises sometimes it's better to look for ways to compensate together with the student and in some cases just to drop some repertoire to avoid injury and frustration.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 08:36 AM

Originally Posted by prout

Oh, I know it comes across as condescending. I had to assume a pianist, on a piano forum, would be familier with the WTC.

Yet you assumed I was not. Why?
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 08:39 AM

Originally Posted by outo
Isn't it common sense that anyone can learn to play the piano if they have hands and enough fingers? But can anyone learn to play anything in the piano literature and play it as well?

Even the greatest pianists all talked about not being able to play some things to their own satisfaction.
Quote

I've had lessons with a few visiting teachers besides my own. They have not questioned my technique in playing the pieces I've played for them. But one of them said when I mentioned my inability to play RH octaves that It's because I have not studied with him.

Don't you just love the arrogance? In other words, your own teachers is poor just because he didn't find a solution to a problem you have. frown
Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 12:20 PM

Answering Prout
First, thank you for responding to what I wrote. I must mention that you only responded to some of it, and the missing parts are ones I'd like to get back to, because they matter.

I am not against understanding anatomy and how the body works. What I wrote of (the part you addressed) is that this study focuses only on the hands. The purpose of the study itself is not that of helping musicians: it uses musicians as the best candidates for their study. But when they do talk of playing piano, it is totally hand oriented. Lifting the 5th finger high + "finger independence" are in there. You focused on that part of my answer, and I will get back to your musical example. smile I did read your proferred article. I would like you to do me the favour reading my post in its entirety. smile

Work has been done on the physical side of piano playing both in the open public through books, teachings, systems etc., and more invisibly by teachers with their private students. By now I've seen a fair bit of it. This kind of work does consider anatomy. The one important factor is that the piano is not just played with the fingers, and also wrong teaching or learning including a pure finger orientation does lead to injury. From here I can go to your example.

The Bach: From what I have managed to learn so far, I know that no joint anywhere in the body mechanism should be locked, and all should be free to move. I know that a held note should not be "held down" with force, and there should be a certain flexibility and looseness in those fingers, as well as the wrist not being locked. I know that when a finger lifts, there can be a certain amount of co-movement further in the hand, forearm, upper arm, which may be tiny and invisible but they are there --- there is a chicken or egg as to which lifts which. There is a certain "springiness". Keeping all this in mind, I played your example slowly, and I added your hypothetical lower C# being held. Since you didn't include a key signature I didn't know whether there was an A or A#, though the A(nat) accidental in the previous measure suggested it might be A#. I played it both ways. In so doing I allowed my thumb to be relaxed near the joint at the wrist, it had some looseness, and in the repeated F# A# (or F# A) the fingers raising happened with a slight up and down of the hand at the wrist both carrying and initiating the motion -- the deliberate looseness or springiness of 1 & 5 made this possible because if the non-finger portion of the hand is to move at all, the fingers must have some give. It sounds complicated in writing, of course.

There are some important points in what I have just described:
There are still some teachers who have students do "fingery" playing, whereby the hand itself tends to be rigid and unmovable; some do know the wrist should be loose but create conditions that cause the opposite, while others don't know it. Some students just end up being "all fingers" along with motionless arms and hands, because they don't know otherwise. Some accidentally fall into healthy movement, without having been guided in that direction, neither directly, nor indirectly.

2. FINGER INDEPENDENCE: As the article says, the fingers like to move together. In piano playing there are notes played by individual fingers separately, and sometimes a note is held down by one finger while other fingers play. What do we do with that? One approach is to i) fight nature, trying to get a finger to lift and drop while keeping all the others still. There are exercises for that. In those exercises, "lifting high" is sometimes included - when the article mentions it I wondered if anyone in the team was thinking of the older version of the Hanon approach. This has been discussed often. Or ii) to work with nature In this case you allow the co-movement to happen. At least you don't restrain or lock down on the other fingers. It can be a microscopic thing, and if you are an experienced player as you seem to be, you may be doing this subconsciously. Btw, as soon as you allow the other fingers to not be clamped down against their nature, there will also be some micro-movement of the hand, freedom of the wrist, etc.

I don't know if what I've been trying to say has come across. It is this: there is a bigger picture than the hand and fingers, and you cannot isolate the hand and fingers when considering the playing mechanism. In fact, such isolation is known to create problems.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 03:22 PM

2nd part - "science", "instinct", "methodologies" - someplace in there. I've never tried to put these ideas together before, so bear with me.

Idea 1: Playing is not black and white, and there is no absolute roadmap. It is a complex activity, and some principles may actually appear to contradict each other.

Idea 2: Take the above idea that in playing, not only the fingers are involved, but the whole body is. Add to this that playing involves movement, different kinds of movement; the directing of forces, the balancing of the body, things like rotation, up and down, forward and back, etc. etc. This means that an aware teacher is doing more than trying to get a student to lift finger 5 high up in the air, or other finger elements. It means that the teacher has a lot of options at his disposal. Supposing that a student has ligaments that are different as in the article (was it 5%) - then this teacher will be trying the whole gamut of these options until finding something that works for this student. If a student is missing some ranges of motion for whatever reason, then an astute teacher will be drawing on his whole arsenal. He doesn't have to look at an x-ray to know it's missing; and there are other things besides what was listed in the article.

"Instinct": When this means an unaware maybe inexperienced teacher is wildly winging it; or someone who plays well but doesn't know how also wildly wings it - and they call it "instinct" - then no, that's not great. But there can also be the teacher who has a vast array of awareness and knowledge from his own studies (playing) and experiences, having observed others, having solved problems with previous students, and who then draws on the entire toolbox that he possesses. This actually carries the component of knowledge, including anatomical knowledge and the knowledge of movement at the instrument. The problem with this word is that it will mean a different thing from teacher to teacher. Again, nothing is black and white.

"Science": I am ambivalent about it. Some knowledge of the scientific variety has helped me personally. I have also experienced a kind of tunnel-visioning and mis-application of knowledge, and have experienced harm because of it (when it was taught along those lines).

"Methodology": Meaning anything that gets taught. One might be the old system of penny on the hand keeping it absolutely still while hammering down with highly raised fingers and aiming for a particular version of "finger independence". Another might be a school of "complete relaxation" to the point of limpness. Another might be insistence that arm rotation solves everything. As soon as there are rigid methodologies or those that are not suitable to that student at that time, these also play a role that can be negative.

All of these things interplay.

Posted By: TimR

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/21/16 03:44 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible


Thought it was just me.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 12:22 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Since you didn't include a key signature I didn't know whether there was an A or A#, though the A(nat) accidental in the previous measure suggested it might be A#. I played it both ways.

He said fugue #4, and that narrows it down to two fugues, one for each book. He's talking about WTC book 1, Fugue in C# minor.

Go to the end and then up about 4 lines. You'll find it instantly.

The picture is extremely large and confusing...

Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 12:45 AM

I used the picture since I was being asked about playing that one measure, and I answered the question about playing that measure. I didn't pay that much attention to the name since a picture was there, and when there is an excerpt in the middle of something, you can't know for sure whether it's in the original named key at that point. The playing of the measure is done. smile I think I wrote enough in response to the question, and hope for a response once a bit of time is taken reading it. Yes about the picture.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 01:08 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible

I know this is going off on a tangent: But I don't agree with that generalization. There is plenty of "easier" Bach to pass around, and since I'm no purist (I pedal Bach generously, and I don't deal with that 454545 nonsense fingering) I think a lot of Bach is actually quite accessible.

I teach a TON of Bach to my students, and I'm not really "dumbing it down," either, so that students can play Bach. I just dislike certain antiquated ways of thinking about Bach.

Okay, carry on...
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 07:13 AM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible

I know this is going off on a tangent: But I don't agree with that generalization. There is plenty of "easier" Bach to pass around, and since I'm no purist (I pedal Bach generously, and I don't deal with that 454545 nonsense fingering) I think a lot of Bach is actually quite accessible.

I teach a TON of Bach to my students, and I'm not really "dumbing it down," either, so that students can play Bach. I just dislike certain antiquated ways of thinking about Bach.

Okay, carry on...

I was being humorous...
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 08:02 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Answering Prout
First, thank you for responding to what I wrote. I must mention that you only responded to some of it, and the missing parts are ones I'd like to get back to, because they matter.

There was almost no response, and I'll wager you won't get one to this either. I'm going to answer because I'm the one who got insulted.
Quote

I am not against understanding anatomy and how the body works. What I wrote of (the part you addressed) is that this study focuses only on the hands. The purpose of the study itself is not that of helping musicians: it uses musicians as the best candidates for their study. But when they do talk of playing piano, it is totally hand oriented. Lifting the 5th finger high + "finger independence" are in there. You focused on that part of my answer, and I will get back to your musical example. smile I did read your proffered article. I would like you to do me the favour reading my post in its entirety. smile

No one said one word about being against understanding anatomy.

I mentioned, rather pointedly, the the article linked to is not aimed at people who do not have a background in anatomy.

I want to mention that Prout's example, musical, was equally unhelpful, so some may be accused of not being interested in his point because he linked to a picture that was huge, lacking a key signature, and not even letting us see full measures, in context. That makes it a very poor example.

If I were assuming that most people I'm talking to don't even have experience with the WTC, I would not post such a picture unless I wanted other people to feel stupid.

But making other people feel stupid is often the aim of people who post a lot in forums.

The article did not have an illustrations showing what was being talked about. As someone who is in no ways an expert in this field a few pictures would have helped.

When talking about the body I tend to be a visual learner, and looking only at terms that I then have to look up is extremely discouraging and off-putting.

If I described what I teach the way the article described the muscles and tendons of the hands - and this is really about more than the hands, since this involves at least the forearms, which contain muscles, tendons and so on that are "working the fingers" in the hands - then people would rightfully call me a condescending snob if I then accused people of not wanting to learn what I had to say.

If I then stated, with no doubt whatsoever, that I knew I was being condescending, that this was my intent - well, you get the idea. I'm still pretty steamed.
Quote

Work has been done on the physical side of piano playing both in the open public through books, teachings, systems etc., and more invisibly by teachers with their private students. By now I've seen a fair bit of it. This kind of work does consider anatomy. The one important factor is that the piano is not just played with the fingers, and also wrong teaching or learning including a pure finger orientation does lead to injury. From here I can go to your example.

Understanding everything about how the fingers move and how the hands work is not going to stop injuries. You just pointed out part of the problem, the idea that fingers are little hammers, and everything should be rather stiff/rigid. Almost two centuries ago Chopin was railing against such a view, and rightfully so, but there are teachers still teaching that old view, and who knows how many thousands of people are injured following that advice.

You can have a perfect understanding of the anatomy of the hand, and you may have nothing unusual in your hands that point to problems, but if you practice hours every day doing something is harmful, you may still injure yourself. And that happens a lot.
Quote

The Bach: From what I have managed to learn so far, I know that no joint anywhere in the body mechanism should be locked, and all should be free to move. I know that a held note should not be "held down" with force, and there should be a certain flexibility and looseness in those fingers, as well as the wrist not being locked. I know that when a finger lifts, there can be a certain amount of co-movement further in the hand, forearm, upper arm, which may be tiny and invisible but they are there --- there is a chicken or egg as to which lifts which.

That is 100% correct, and I'm not going to say more on this subject.

Unfortunately it is useless for me to comment about such things in this forum because people who think that I don't know how to teach, for one reason or another, have already come to the conclusion with absolutely no reason, and there is nothing I can do about it.

But I have been an opponent of anything that causes pain or injury for as long as I have been teaching - about four decades now. I've seen a lot of problems, and I've fixed a fair share of them.

I'll leave it at that.
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 04:55 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

No one said one word about being against understanding anatomy.

I've already talked about the anatomical ignorance elsewhere; as well about the theses of Vladimir Mazel, that right and wrong movements may look identically, and for a particular performer in a given playing situation there is only one anatomically correct movement. I don't think that ignorance of the anatomical structure of the human body, and not just the hands, is a sign of high-grade teacher with " a developed intuition" . But of course a test is - what happens to the student, if develop problems of fingers and hands.
Posted By: TimR

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 06:47 PM

Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
I tell my students that there are three levels of Bach:

Hard
Harder
Impossible

I know this is going off on a tangent: But I don't agree with that generalization. There is plenty of "easier" Bach to pass around, and since I'm no purist (I pedal Bach generously, and I don't deal with that 454545 nonsense fingering) I think a lot of Bach is actually quite accessible.

I teach a TON of Bach to my students, and I'm not really "dumbing it down," either, so that students can play Bach. I just dislike certain antiquated ways of thinking about Bach.

Okay, carry on...

I was being humorous...


I was too. But I would have said four categories instead of three, if I were the first to mention it:
1. Possible for student to figure out fingering on the fly
2. Possible for student to figure out fingering with extended study
3. Possible for advanced player or teacher to figure out fingering on the fly
4. Possible for advanced player or teacher to figure out fingering with study

And then I'd have to observe there are no known Bach pieces in category 1 or 2. Hee, hee.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 07:40 PM

So far I have only addressed the topic at hand. Prout, I wrote about the material you presented, adding my thoughts and related considerations. You responded to part of what I wrote. I don't know whether you understood the parts you did not write about, or just ignored them. I responded to your response, and since it's only been a day, chances are that you will respond. I asked you to take the time to read the whole thing carefully before responding. I don't know if you will do so.

This time I'm addressing something different - namely the tone toward some of the teachers here. One might think it was accidental, with people not always knowing how they come across. But you have told us that you were condescending deliberately. That does not sit well. In fact, it bothers me immensely and I cannot be alone.

You are making assumptions both about people you have not gotten to know, and perhaps also about your own superiority (?). It's hard to tell. There is greater respect among experienced professional teachers toward each other, than I have seen on those occasions.

You also addressed something to me:
Quote
Rather than dismiss ideas that are foreign or new to me, I would prefer to embrace the knowledge, add it to my arsenal, and be able to argue both sides from a position of knowledge, rather than ignorance.

The material you presented is neither foreign nor new to me. That is why I was able to respond in the manner that I did. In regards to "arguing" from any kind of "side", there are no "sides". There is exploration of a broad and complex thing where seemingly opposite and contradictory things are often merely elements of a same puzzle. Various people have added to those parts, and you seem to have dismissed them or shrugged them off. If you are indeed shrugging off new information and new aspects for the sake of one consideration, then you are putting yourself in that position of ignorance. wink I hope that is not the case. But above all, I hope to see respect in this forum rather than what looks like condescension. In my experience, those with the greatest expertise and knowledge are often most humble and kind in their manner. Perhaps you are indeed coming across in a manner you did not intend? Because I am surprised and somewhat disappointed.
Posted By: Gary D.

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/22/16 09:03 PM

Originally Posted by Nahum
I've already talked about the anatomical ignorance elsewhere; as well about the theses of Vladimir Mazel, that right and wrong movements may look identically, and for a particular performer in a given playing situation there is only one anatomically correct movement.

That's simplistic. There may be more than one way to move, but there will be, for sure, ways to move (and lots more) that are 100% incorrect.

But someone needs to point out that going for tests is something that most people are not usually going to do until serious problems have already happened.

For every person who goes to a doctor for answers as to what is causing pain there are probably 100 or 1000 who develop serious pain before realizing a potential problem every existed, and some of those people will get into huge difficulties while studying with "experts" who essentially say: "Trust me. I'm an expert. I know what I'm doing."

Posted By: Nahum

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/23/16 06:59 AM

Originally Posted by Gary D.

That's simplistic. There may be more than one way to move, but there will be, for sure, ways to move (and lots more) that are 100% incorrect.



I have no reason not to trust to Vladimir Mazel. VM (Age 82), violinist and pianist , for 25 years a leading methodologist of violin playing among music schools in St. Petersburg. For 40 years, specializing in the rehabilitation of physical problems of performers on string and keyboard instruments (also guitarists).
Thoroughly studied anatomy, thanks to his wife - a doctor. Every year, he lectures at the orthopedic center in St. Petersburg; where experts believe that Mazel has developed a new branch of the science physiology of activity . He wrote eight books about his system, one translated into English. His views are based on the works of Friedrich Steinhausen and Nikolai Bernstein, founder of the direction of the physiology of activity.
We are friends for eight years, are constantly talking on anatomically-based playing movements on the violin and piano during teaching ; I even for him a kind of guinea pig. Since have also studied the system Feldenkrayz and Alexander technique,  then I put the system of Mazel on the same level with them.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/24/16 01:45 PM

Nahum, that style of answer bothers me. What I mean is this: A discussion goes along, then somebody throws out the name of a person or a book that is famous, or a person they consider is great, and then nothing more can be discussed because of the great name. This is wrong. And it stops discussion.

The reality is that you wrote a very few words which tbh were somewhat unclear. Mazel did not write them - you did - and it is better to discuss the ideas posted here, rather than talking about the merits of a particular man. So ... You wrote:
Quote
as well about the theses of Vladimir Mazel, that right and wrong movements may look identically, and for a particular performer in a given playing situation there is only one anatomically correct movement.

To start with, your sentence is hard to understand as you wrote it because it can be understood two ways. There are two parts:
- right and wrong movements may look identical
That makes perfect sense, and I don't think you'll get much disagreement
- in a given playing situation there is only one anatomically correct movement
How does that tie in with the first part of your sentence? Well, for one thing, if one cannot tell by appearance, then one also cannot tell whether this "correct movement" is happening by looking. So what do you do with that? If you can't tell by looking, how do you guide a student or learn by watching a good player? The two things are close to at odds with each other. This isn't the problem however.

"only one movement" being correct --- that is the problem, i.e. the part that in its present form seems simplistic. It would have been better for you to expand on this, when that was pointed out, rather than pulling out how esteemed Mazel was (which doesn't tell us anything). The problem I have in regards to "one movement" is that playing piano is a set of movements involving the whole coordinated body from to to head as much as the fingers are involved, of course. That is the simplistic part. Mazel would have set this out over days or weeks or years in person, or over many pages and chapters in his book. The idea gets lost and simplified when put into a single sentence. wink

I think this can be expanded on, because you may have some interesting ideas which atm are sort of embryonic without their real form. wink
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/25/16 10:44 AM

Originally Posted by keystring
Nahum, that style of answer bothers me .

Me too, but beside me there is no one that is likely to help in the wording in English.
Quote
What I mean is this: A discussion goes along, then somebody throws out the name of a person or a book that is famous, or a person they consider is great, and then nothing more can be discussed because of the great name. This is wrong. And it stops discussion.


A strange conclusion, when you consider that after I left the Soviet Union, I met a great number of completely unknown to me names - such as Tobias Matthay, Joseph Levine and Rosina Levine,Nadia Reizenberg , Alexander, Feldenkrayz, Abby Whiteside, Isidor Philipp, Dorothy Taubman, Suzuki; and more. All of them are very well-known in the West. And you know that I started to do? I began to look for material about them, to copy hundreds of pages of text to Google translator; at that time I did not read English. For us who have grown up in atmosphere of cultural censorship ("musicologists in civilian clothes"), this is perfectly natural; I would expect something similar from the other; especially if the American piano school (about a Canadian does not know) comes from the traditions of the old Russian school.
And then is possible already start to discuss for real.

Quote
To start with, your sentence is hard to understand as you wrote it because it can be understood two ways. There are two parts:
- right and wrong movements may look identical
That makes perfect sense, and I don't think you'll get much disagreement
- in a given playing situation there is only one anatomically correct movement
How does that tie in with the first part of your sentence?
There is no contradiction, but firmly there is a problem. Appearance of movements can not say anything about the inner sensations of pupil; namely to this issue - pre-training of the correct sensations in motor coordination in young children - Vladimir Mazel devoted the last two years; but I'm not sure whether he will be able to complete this work. Nothing like this hadn't met in other languages.

Quote
"only one movement" being correct --- that is the problem, i.e. the part that in its present form seems simplistic. It would have been better for you to expand on this, when that was pointed out, rather than pulling out how esteemed Mazel was (which doesn't tell us anything). The problem I have in regards to "one movement" is that playing piano is a set of movements involving the whole coordinated body from to to head as much as the fingers are involved, of course. That is the simplistic part.
We can say: "Only one anatomically correct coordination of movements of body parts." I agree that it is very difficult, and requires research.


Quote
Mazel would have set this out over days or weeks or years in person, or over many pages and chapters in his book. The idea gets lost and simplified when put into a single sentence. ;)I think this can be expanded
I will try, according to my abilities . Not sure on this thread; maybe I'll open separate.



Posted By: keystring

Re: Not All Hands Are The Same Anatomically - 12/25/16 11:37 AM

Thank you for attempting to clarify, Nahum. My first impression had been that in response to questioning an idea, you had simply thrown out some names of people and systems, and that gives no information. I'm happy, btw, that you have escaped the censorship of bygone days, and could get at all that information - not an easy task. Some of us were censored, and some of us were kept in ignorance in other ways. It's not easy to climb out.

The way I understand your original sentence, the first part is that the "right thing" can't be recognized just by appearance. I've seen that sometimes by watching teachers presenting what they do on Youtube, their students have choreographed movements that should give loose and fluid playing, and yet the sound is ineffective and under the choreography they are stiff or just lost. Another person may appear unconventional, breaking all the rules, but underneath something is going very right.

the other part is finding the thing that makes it go right. But this isn't an easy or simple thing to find, i.e. it should not be taken "simplistically". How's that?
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