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Tremolo and pain

Posted By: greentime

Tremolo and pain - 04/18/10 08:52 PM

Hello everybody! I’m new to the piano world posting world, although I’ve been reading the posts for a while. Particularly I‘ ve been reading the post about the left hand of the pathetique. I am 31 years old, and last september 2009, I decided I would give it a try to bethoven’s pathetique 1st movement. You might think I’m crazy, I know, starting with such a difficult piece for starters.

Actuality im not entirely new to piano. I received some lessons when I was a child (9 or 10 years old). I don’t remember how long, maybe some months. Maybe that was why I was kind of confident I eventually could play such a piece, if I started to practice. I downloaded the score, and was using the separated hands method. Repeating and repeating small passages, two three notes, etcetera.

After 6 or 7 months of practice (2,3,4 times a week 45 – 60 minutes per practice) I can play the first part of the piece, that’s about the first two minutes, just after the first LH tremolo part. And I think I play it pretty well. In fact I’m very excited about it, and very happy too, because what started as mere wondering, its materializing. I always dreamed of playing this piece. Now im pretty confident I can finish it, and play it really well.

But I have one “little” problem. After some weeks of practicing the LH I started to feel some king of a little pain on the wrist. I did some google search and think its ulnar sided wrist pain. Because Is at the ulna (the bone of the outer part of the arm) at the level of the wrist, or the Styloid process, I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. I just felt a little pain on the wrist when rotating it. I stopped playing for about two months, the pain was gone after a couple of weeks i guess, i dont really remember. Anyway, i started to practice this last week, although I modified my tremolo position for the LH. But still im starting to feel a little bit of pain at the wrist. I guess im still doin it the wrong way, or better than before but not entirely safe.

What im focusing in now is to vary the position of hand while doing the tremolo just a little bit nothing extreme, I just vary the position from the wrist held low to wrist held high to relieve some fatigue. (imitating this girl here )

I’m also starting to pay attention to my shoulder, and the rest of my body, it should not be tense and I think it should be “down”. Also I’d like to try some dropping motion with the arm, like suggested at the “the left hand of the pathetique” thread when Brendan advises “a fluid, continuous up-down motion at the rate of one "drop" per bar […] one "drop" per beat..Down,up,up,up..Down,up,up,up..etc.” Also I read somewhere im supposed to move more my fingers and not so much my wrist.
I guess, what I want to know dear piano lovers, is: am I injured already? Can the pain disappear if I learn to play it safely? Should I get a teacher? Do you have any other advice on how to play it?

Thanks in advanced! Sorry 4 my lousy English.

Posted By: casinitaly

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/18/10 08:58 PM

Your English is not lousy!
I had problems with tension in my right arm a few weeks after I started playing - my teacher advised me to CUT BACK immediately, to rest the arm. She suggested a maximum of 15 minutes a day and she gave me exercises to do. These are the "drop arm " exercises you can find many examples of them on the net.

My teacher warned me that if I didn't rest the arm, and learn how to relax, I could do long-term serious damage.

Try resting and relaxing and I would suggest that if you don't feel an improvement very soon you probably want to see a doctor.
Posted By: greentime

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/18/10 09:05 PM

Ill guess, ill cut the tremolo excercises so this little pain dissapears, and then start again with some changes, like the drop arm to see what happens. Wish me luck.

Posted By: keyboardklutz

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/19/10 06:38 AM

I don't think the passage's speed requires any rotation. Drop and Flop on finger 5 each beat. Catch the thumb's note on the way up. Here's a video illustrating how to do 'down' notes:
Posted By: ten left thumbs

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/19/10 08:06 AM

greentime - you should definitely get a teacher before 'pushing' yourself physically.

If you continue to have pain, please seek medical advice. You need a doctor or a physiotherapist.

Pushing yourself physically will always cause some discomfort as fingers stretch and muscles are challenged. But the wrist is very intricate (I know, I've had problems) and can get injured very easily.
Posted By: Phlebas

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/19/10 01:21 PM

Kreisler has this thread in the Pianist Corner FAQ section.

However, my guess is the piece is probably a little too difficult for you right now. If you're getting any pain, you should put it aside, especially if you don't have a teacher to guide you.

Play something a little easier. There's tons of great music out there, and the Pathetique will still be there when you're ready to take it on.
Posted By: greentime

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/19/10 02:00 PM

Phlebas: Im also practicing the 2nd movement wich is easier, i mean, less demanding phiscally. And the love theme from the cinema paradiso movie.

I really would hate to put aside the 1st mov of the pathetique, what if i just keep practicing at a slower phase, i mean with less stress, les impact and trying to correct, upgrade or change my body movements and position?

I defeniteley will seek a teacher. I need someone who tells me how can i practice this tremolo slow, with less impact and gradually be able to do it faster and better. That is what i would like.

Keyboardklutz: cant see your video. Maybe its my browser.

Posted By: greentime

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/19/10 02:00 PM

Sorry if i appear too stubborn.

I want to clarify the consequences of this statement: "this piece is probably a little too difficult for you right now"

I know it is.

Of course the tremolo has only two notes. The problem is that is a repeating pattern. and If repeated incorrectly it could get anyone injured. I now realize that.

So two questions appears in my mind: should i try to practice it differently, less stressful? or should i try to avoid it entirely?

In case the answer for the second question is yes. Then another question emerges: what other excercise could i do, in order to conquer the tremolo?


Posted By: keyboardklutz

Re: Tremolo and pain - 04/19/10 04:56 PM

If you can watch youtube vids it should be fine. The video lives at http://www.youtube.com/isstip. And by the way, done sensibly, I don't see why you shouldn't study whatever you wish.
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