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P.E. for the pianist (Read 5822 times)

Offline mojohk

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P.E. for the pianist
« on: January 09, 2002, 07:02:10 PM »
:) Fingers, obviously, are extremely important to pianists.  However, so are arm muscles.  I've been told that carrying anything heavy with my hands is dangerous to my fingers--that my muscles will cramp and my fingers will be less flexible and agile.  This makes sense to me, but I would like to know definitely if this is true.  Also, are there any suggestions for arm/hand stretches or exercises for me to develop agility or strength in my arms away from the keyboard?  I can't really think of any arm-strengthening activities that don't put strain on the fingers...

Offline robert_henry

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #1 on: January 10, 2002, 04:25:26 AM »
I've been very active in sports all my life, including weight training, and I've never noticed any detriment to my playing.  In fact, when I am the most diligent in my activities, I find that I have more power and stamina than ever.   The only activities I won't engage in are chopping wood and bowling.  I had a week-long injury from bowling once...my right hand only hurt when I played a 1st inversion Eb chord from g to g.  Weird.

If you train with weights *properly* by doing controlled, deliberate reps and not alot of jarring and yanking, then you should be fine.  

You mentioned putting strain on the fingers...the act of playing the piano puts alot of strain on the limbs as it is.  If one practices for few hours, more than likely their hands and arms are a little fatigued after the practice.  This is because you have "worked out" your fingers and arms.  Everytime a finger moves, a muscle is being worked.Practicing is more than just learning notes and the proper mechanism for playing the piano...it is just as much strength training for our bodies to keep our hands in shape.  


Offline mozartean

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #2 on: January 11, 2002, 03:59:26 AM »
Let me give you my opinion from the point of view of a physician and an amateur pianist. A pianist is an athelete - he is using the small muscles of his hands and the larger muscles of the forearm and arm. In playing the piano, it is not muscle strength that is important but coordination and stamina. Coordination comes with correct methods of practice - new neuronal connections are formed between your brain and your muscles. When your muscles are able to coordinate, you become more relaxed. When you are relaxed, your playing improves by leaps and bounds and this contributes to greater stamina at the keyboard.

So I would not recommend indulging in exercises that build muscle bulk. Coordination is far more important. Doing weights the wrong way can cause serious harm to joints, muscles and tendons.

It is also equally important to have adequate aerobic fitness. Go for a swim, run on the treadmill or cycle on the stationery bicycle. Your muscles need the extra oxygen when playing the piano. Avoid harmful habits like drinking and smoking.

Good luck and good health :)
A true blue Singaporean

Offline ted

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #3 on: April 05, 2002, 01:18:23 PM »
I find that heavy muscular exercise of the arms is definitely not good for my playing. I played a lot of hard tennis when I was young and I don't think the constant tight grip on the raquet did wonders for my finger flexibility. Also, there is the danger of crowding the carpal and occipital tunnels - don't ask me how it happens I only know it does, as a friend found to his cost when exposed to a protracted time of physical labour.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #4 on: April 06, 2002, 08:58:37 AM »
I'm with you guys!  I have always been active in sports that would probably be considered "bad" for piano (ice hockey, bicycling, etc), and the only ill effects I get are from not practicing!!!  I would think that sports and exercise would be good for your playing, if for no other reason that you feel better. I'll be curious to know what input comes in on this one.
So much music, so little time........

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #5 on: April 06, 2002, 11:06:38 PM »
There's something I ought to add, now that I think about it.......
This affects me, I don't know about you others.....

If you get into a workout routine, and you know you are going to have a particularly arduous workout - really long bike ride, really wicked tennis match, whatever,   I try to schedule my piano practice time BEFORE the big physical activity.  I think my body is too pooped after a nasty workout, and my piano playing is really uncoordinated.  i also have no patience then.  So it's best to get the piano practicing out of the way if possible.  What does the good doctor say about that?
So much music, so little time........

Offline MikeThePianist

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #6 on: August 02, 2002, 05:04:49 AM »
I am not a very active person.  I participate in physical activity, but I am by no means an athlete.  However, it is good for both the energy in your playing and the well-being of your performance equipment (your body) to get exercise.  What I have found to be the most refreshing and relaxing exercise is swimming.  You use nearly every muscle in your body, it's fun, and there is no excess straing on any joints, muscles, etc.  If I were you, I would look into trying that.  :-)

Mike
Michael Fauver is pursuing his bachelors degree in piano performance at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Offline SteveK

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Re: P.E. for the pianist
«Reply #7 on: September 03, 2002, 09:40:53 PM »
Hi there!

I do lots of cardio such as hi/lo, step, intervals, and much more!  All these involve videos and DVD's!  I use 5 lbs. dumbbells, and a step!  I do lots of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, and calf-raises!  My mom exercises every day and she got me into it!  I also like to ride my bike for my legs! :) I don't use too heavy weights!  But these workouts in no case affect my playing negatively! :) :)
"And you probably thought I'd play badly?" - Sergei Rachmaninoff.