\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Wrist can't move up and down while playing? (Read 15801 times)

Offline pprelude

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 5
Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
« on: October 11, 2010, 04:16:29 AM »
A new transferred student's parent who told me her previous teacher do not allow her child's wrist move up and down while she is playing ( not even a bit).  Even her freind's piano teacher say the same thing too.
I noticed many transferred student, they don't move their wrist, they hold their wrist tight.  Also, they lift up their fingers as high as possible, especially when they are playing scales. 

Please correct me if I am wrong.  According to the Edward Parker "teaching pedagogy textbook", he emphasizes flexible wrist for playing piano.  For fast scale, we have to have flexible wrist, closed key playing......etc.   Thus, I don't understand why should we lift up our finger as high as possible for scale playing?  HOld your wrist tight would cause forearm tension.  That's the favourite question on RCM teacher pedagogy exam.

Therefore, I explained to the parent, but she seems like not believe my answer.  She believes her previous teacher from China is right about holding the wrist tight and curve fingers all the time, lift up as high as possible....etc.....

There are many Chinese around my area.  Most of my students are transferred students.  They all have this problem.  Anyone can give me some idea?

Offline keyboardclass

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2009
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #1 on: October 11, 2010, 05:33:18 AM »
They we're taught an early 19th century technique.  It's Ok for Bach and Mozart (where even then the wrist is never tight) but totally unsuited to Chopin.  I suggest you show them Chopin's own words - 'Just as we need to use the confirmation of the fingers, we need no less to use the rest of the hand, the wrist, the forearm and the arm. - One cannot try to play everything from the wrist, as Kalkbrenner claims'.

Offline birba

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3738
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 12:56:33 PM »
I was going to say, it sounds like something out of the middle ages.  :o   I mean THAT is absolutely wrong!  Even for Bach and Mozart.  They didn't call Michelangeli "spaghetti wrists" for nothing.

Offline urlicht

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 7
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 10:27:55 PM »
Everything has its opposite, and moderation is the key (in so many things, not just piano!).

While, as birba and keyboardclass said, a supple wrist is necessary, I think many teachers have their students over-exaggerate the movement of the wrist. This is good for someone just learning the movement, but make sure that once it is learned, it's reigned in to be just enough to produce the effect required.
Check out http://privio.net - Business software for private music teachers

Offline birba

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3738
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #4 on: October 14, 2010, 07:43:10 AM »
Of course!  It's exaggerated in slow movement practising and gradually becomes imperceptible as you speed up.

Offline ingunite

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 48
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #5 on: October 18, 2010, 11:54:31 PM »
IMHO, as long as the wrist does not sag or moves grotesquely, a moderate movement in the wrist should not be counterproductive and should very likely naturally self-correct as the pianist's skills progress. I would think that a completely immobile wrist would lead to all sorts of muscular problems later...

Offline lisaandpiano

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 2
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 01:32:32 PM »
I got my master degree in USA, and now i am teaching in China,  I think teachers here always ask students to lift up fingers~

 it is necessery to practice very slow by lift fingers..  but when you get used to the music, when the student can play faster in motion, they will move thier wrist naturely.
I think lift up fingers and keep the wrist still is a good way to teach begginers ;D

Offline music32

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 76
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #7 on: December 16, 2010, 08:45:11 PM »
I vote for flexible wrists, and natural follow through. Freezing the wrist makes no sense and can cause injury.

Shirley K
http://arioso7.wordpress.com

I have some instructional videos interspersed where my wrist is seen as quite flexible.
I respect differing opinions..
Grad NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
New York University (Master of Arts)
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7
Blogging at http://arioso7.wordpress.com

Offline omar_roy

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 298
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #8 on: December 17, 2010, 04:00:10 AM »
According to one of my former teachers, the theory behind "lifting the fingers" is that part of being able to play fast and clear is the ability to quickly release a key after playing it, in addition to the natural flow of the wrist and arm.  Anyone can slam their fingers down fast, but being able to release the key quickly is just as important.  Eventually the act of releasing the key cleanly and crisply becomes part of playing. 

This kind of precision is very important when studying Bach and Mozart.  Consequently, the clean and fast attack that this sort of drill develops has been the most difficult to develop in those students of mine who weren't trained in this in their earlier years.  The opposite is not true for those who developed this technique early.  That is, those students of mine who first developed a good fast attack have easily learned how to produce a good legato.

Regarding the wrists, I've never heard of students being forced to keep wrists strictly in plane.  A relaxed, but quiet, wrist is essential.  Obviously, a wrist that moves all over the place is problematic, but flexibility in movement of the wrist is imperative not only to being able to cope with certain technical encounters, but also to produce a good tone.

Offline sucom

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 252
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #9 on: December 24, 2010, 11:48:15 PM »
My immediate thought is that the body must flow in natural sympathy with the flow of the music and this will include the wrists.  Any tension or tightness, in any area of the body, will interrupt this smooth streamlined flow.  The body and the music must become as one.  What I would say is that underuse or overuse of the wrists (and fingers) are both as bad as each other.  A streamlined, flexible balance must be the key.

Articulation of notes comes from a deliberate effort to hear and play them individually and clearly, lifting the fingers sufficiently for the notes to sound clearly without over lifting or over working the fingers, which could result in a slightly choppy sound.  Clear smoothness can be achieved by careful listening and articulating the notes cleanly, using the wrists smoothly and flexibly.

Offline music32

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 76
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 10:42:38 AM »
Wrist should be supple and flexible. Without such elasticity, a player is subject to injury and the tone will be harsh if not percussive.

http://arioso7.wordpress.com
Explore Part 3,Development section and Recap of Mozart K. 545
Grad NYC HS of Performing Arts
Oberlin Conservatory
New York University (Master of Arts)
http://www.youtube.com/arioso7
Blogging at http://arioso7.wordpress.com

Offline minona

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 52
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #11 on: September 02, 2013, 02:25:04 PM »
According to one of my former teachers, the theory behind "lifting the fingers" is that part of being able to play fast and clear is the ability to quickly release a key after playing it, in addition to the natural flow of the wrist and arm.  Anyone can slam their fingers down fast, but being able to release the key quickly is just as important.  Eventually the act of releasing the key cleanly and crisply becomes part of playing.  

This kind of precision is very important when studying Bach and Mozart.  

Did this become true with the development of modern pianos? It's just that C.P.E Bach wrote in his treatise that the movement of the fingers should be almost imperceptible.

I suppose the best thing to do is to watch what the great pianists do, perhaps even in slow motion...? I suppose it might depend on your hands. Mitsuko Uchida has her wrists quite low and her fingers move up high. She has long fingers. Perhaps it also depends on how much practice you're prepared to do. If it's 12 hours a day, it might not be too far fetched to follow a Lizstian technique like the great Art Tatum, but otherwise perhaps a more orthodox approach is better...?


Offline rmbarbosa

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 453
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #12 on: September 03, 2013, 05:56:33 PM »
In the Russian school, a flexible wrist is essential, namely to achieve a good tone. Even in Bach and Mozart. How can we play a portamento, for example, without a flexible wrist? How to "under pass" de 1 finger when playing scales without a lift <> 45 of the 1 finger? How to play legato - a good and real legato - with a overarticulation of the fingers? Elbow-Arm- wrist-fingers, all they are essencial in piano playing, I do think.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #13 on: September 04, 2013, 10:40:38 PM »
In the Russian school, a flexible wrist is essential, namely to achieve a good tone. Even in Bach and Mozart. How can we play a portamento, for example, without a flexible wrist? How to "under pass" de 1 finger when playing scales without a lift <> 45 of the 1 finger? How to play legato - a good and real legato - with a overarticulation of the fingers? Elbow-Arm- wrist-fingers, all they are essencial in piano playing, I do think.

Everyone in this thread has given only one side of the story though. The most common problem in scales is too much movement at the wrist. Horrible bending into weird positions is the norm for most students- because they haven't learned to keep the wrist well aligned as a mere join in the long chain that exists from fingertip to shoulder. The teacher is absolutely right that students should primarily be striving for good alignment, most of the time. The issue is how they achieve that. A well aligned wrist and flexibility are not mutually exclusive. A student who cannot keep the wrist aligned without locking it will always have problems. Far too much talk is made about what goes on at the wrist itself- but flapping it around everywhere will simply put strain on it and demand various tensions to compensate for the sheer instability. Sustainable freedom only occurs once you have the capability of keeping a simple and consistent alignment throughout scales, with only the most miniscule and subtle changes of alignment- but without any tensions to try to lock that alignment into being. It needs to be the product of good alignment in the whole arm, with well connected fingers- not the product of a locked wrist. This gives far more options than throwing your wrist around all over the place- which can ultimately leads to the worst tensions of all, once you're trying to get around a Chopin Etude.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7741
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #14 on: September 05, 2013, 03:49:12 AM »
Everyone in this thread has given only one side of the story though. The most common problem in scales is too much movement at the wrist. Horrible bending into weird positions is the norm for most students- because they haven't learned to keep the wrist well aligned as a mere join in the long chain that exists from fingertip to shoulder. The teacher is absolutely right that students should primarily be striving for good alignment, most of the time. The issue is how they achieve that. A well aligned wrist and flexibility are not mutually exclusive. A student who cannot keep the wrist aligned without locking it will always have problems. Far too much talk is made about what goes on at the wrist itself- but flapping it around everywhere will simply put strain on it and demand various tensions to compensate for the sheer instability. Sustainable freedom only occurs once you have the capability of keeping a simple and consistent alignment throughout scales, with only the most miniscule and subtle changes of alignment- but without any tensions to try to lock that alignment into being. It needs to be the product of good alignment in the whole arm, with well connected fingers- not the product of a locked wrist. This gives far more options than throwing your wrist around all over the place- which can ultimately leads to the worst tensions of all, once you're trying to get around a Chopin Etude.

You are right, but how does one get there? It's not so easy to go from flappy wrists to quiet but flexible wrists... It took a long time for me and I did experience tension and locked wrists while trying to stop the involuntary movements. Needed to strengthen the arms and thumb first, which didn't happen overnight and the thumb is still a work in progress. If my teacher wasn't so unyielding on this issue I'd certainly have given up trying...

Offline robert07

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 5
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #15 on: September 05, 2013, 08:19:00 AM »
Playing piano is really hard and takes hard practice to learn it perfectly. Keep practicing. At first, move up & down slowly, when you feel you are doing good, then you can move fast. 

moving company in los angeles
los angeles movers

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #16 on: September 05, 2013, 02:18:51 PM »
You are right, but how does one get there? It's not so easy to go from flappy wrists to quiet but flexible wrists... It took a long time for me and I did experience tension and locked wrists while trying to stop the involuntary movements. Needed to strengthen the arms and thumb first, which didn't happen overnight and the thumb is still a work in progress. If my teacher wasn't so unyielding on this issue I'd certainly have given up trying...


yeah, the thumb is the single biggest part. Exercises like this are needed.

http://pianoscience.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/achieving-effortless-balance-within.html

The short explanation is that it's about maintaining length. A loose piece of string will be wobbled freely unless stiffened rigid. Something that is outstretched, like a guitar string, is slightly moveable yet inherently more stable without being made rigid. Way too many explanations tell you to move the wrist, when it should generally be a matter of the wrist moving in space due to movements from further back in the arm. As soon as you lose alignment it's like a floppy piece of string that has to be made rigid, in order to be stable. Floppiness and stiffness are as good as the same thing in advanced repertoire, as the first creates the need for the latter. If you merely maintain length and perceive the chain of the whole arm the wrist just follows along and has no need to brace.



Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #17 on: September 06, 2013, 04:26:17 AM »
You are right, but how does one get there? It's not so easy to go from flappy wrists to quiet but flexible wrists...

You need to practice having a quiet, flexible wrist!

In reality this is much harder to do than it sounds.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7741
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #18 on: September 06, 2013, 04:31:10 AM »
You need to practice having a quiet, flexible wrist!

In reality this is much harder to do than it sounds.
It definitely is...and I think for us old folks it takes even more time and practice...especially if the wrists have been neglected and misused on the computer for over a decade...

Offline hfmadopter

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2272
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #19 on: September 06, 2013, 09:00:52 AM »
It definitely is...and I think for us old folks it takes even more time and practice...especially if the wrists have been neglected and misused on the computer for over a decade...

Yes true but wait till you get old to say you are old outin !! I find my mouse hand is bothered by well of course, the mouse, after a lot of editing. It seems to do the opposite of what one needs for good piano technique. The hand and especially fingers, end up stiff, less flexible and then after piano practice my knuckles tend to feel swollen ( they are not but the feeling is as if they are swollen). This is why I prefer to practice in the early  morning, then this doesn't occur.

My doctor tells me I have mistreated my hands all my life by means of occupation, that's why in the winter my finger tips turn white and numb. I have to run them under warm water to see the blood flow back into the finger tips and then the feeling comes back. He didn't indicate that this is because of the Meds I take of course ! With doctors it's never the meds, they go into full denial.

As to wrist flexibility when playing, of course you need some of that. Controlled is the key element, it comes with time and practice. As to finger lifting, I can remember doing a lot of one finger lifts aimed at my English teachers back in my junior year. I didn't take piano then though, I was in between accordion and taking piano at that point in my life. Oh and of course I flunked that class and had to make it up. So my suggestion is no high finger lifts at the piano either. Stretches to reach octaves and such yet, sideways not up though. By stretch I mean outstretched not a strained stretch, it's almost a breathing action where the hand opens laterally.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline theholygideons

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 821
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #20 on: September 06, 2013, 09:10:07 AM »
one has only got to play chopin's op.10 no.1 to realise the importance of wrist rotation. It doesn't matter how low the wrist is, it still needs flexibility and to come up and down, however subtle the movement is.

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #21 on: September 06, 2013, 01:34:37 PM »
It doesn't matter how low the wrist is, it still needs flexibility and to come up and down, however subtle the movement is.

Absolutely! I studied with a teacher who was hardcore about keeping the wrist low. Under him, I came to realize that what the pianist THINKS is a low wrist, is actually not looking so low from the teacher's perspective.

My next couple of teachers also believed in the link between a quiet, low wrist and a strong, flexible wrist.

Valentina Lisitsa moves her wrists up and down excessively, imo. I much prefer to watch (and listen!) to someone like Horowitz. Less theatricality in the gesture, and more core to the sound!

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7741
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #22 on: September 06, 2013, 02:35:14 PM »
Yes true but wait till you get old to say you are old outin !!
Sorry...I meant old compared to all those 20 year olds asking if they are too old to learn to play the piano :)
Besides you also learned these things some time ago, when you were a bit younger, right?

Offline hfmadopter

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2272
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #23 on: September 06, 2013, 07:05:48 PM »

Besides you also learned these things some time ago, when you were a bit younger, right?

Ya just a bit ! Doesn't seem possible how long ago though.

I do get a kick out of the posts where the person wonders if they are too old to take up piano and we find out that they are in their teens or early 20s though. I think one poster was 14 and all concerned that maybe they missed their window !!!!!
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7741
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #24 on: September 06, 2013, 07:16:32 PM »
I do get a kick out of the posts where the person wonders if they are too old to take up piano and we find out that they are in their teens or early 20s though. I think one poster was 14 and all concerned that maybe they missed their window !!!!!

It does make one feel like a mummy  ;D
But I'll go practice anyway...need to get the wrists right!

Offline stevenarmstrong

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #25 on: September 08, 2013, 11:32:21 AM »
Pfft, wrist has to be supple; not taut. Look at any concert pianist. Some have a flatter position such as Argerich and Horowitz, and some have a higher position, such Ashkenazy and Barenboim. None of them however, have taut wrists. The position you describe sounds a lot like what I've read in harpsichord technique books. You can't transfer arm weight properly through a taut wrist AND being taut will cause damage to the wrist, or elbow, shoulder, neck or all of them!

I don't want to come across as racist or like I'm stereotyping here but the Asian countries are not exactly renowned for producing world class pianists. (Lang Lang is just a big commercial, over-marketed pop star). Look to the Russians in my opinion!

If the student and/or parent refuses to do what you require get rid of them. I don't stand for students arguing with me. Parents can often be the big problem. One student constantly plays like sotto voce. I keep telling him to play louder, just normal even (piano actually means plane NOT soft) so he tells me his mum tells him to play soft at home and that loud practice is unnecessary. I had words with her...
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
Medtner Op. 5
Shchedrin Basso Ostinato
Silvestrov Op. 2

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #26 on: September 12, 2013, 11:17:33 PM »
Pfft, wrist has to be supple; not taut. Look at any concert pianist. Some have a flatter position such as Argerich and Horowitz, and some have a higher position, such Ashkenazy and Barenboim. None of them however, have taut wrists. The position you describe sounds a lot like what I've read in harpsichord technique books. You can't transfer arm weight properly through a taut wrist AND being taut will cause damage to the wrist, or elbow, shoulder, neck or all of them!

I don't want to come across as racist or like I'm stereotyping here but the Asian countries are not exactly renowned for producing world class pianists. (Lang Lang is just a big commercial, over-marketed pop star). Look to the Russians in my opinion!

If the student and/or parent refuses to do what you require get rid of them. I don't stand for students arguing with me. Parents can often be the big problem. One student constantly plays like sotto voce. I keep telling him to play louder, just normal even (piano actually means plane NOT soft) so he tells me his mum tells him to play soft at home and that loud practice is unnecessary. I had words with her...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with taut if it's created in the right place. When I pull someone's hand one way and their elbow in the other, their wrist becomes both taut and stable. The effort they expend in the wrist itself can be literally zero, however. A taut line is created from subtle actions from points further away, not localised tightness at the wrist itself. You're using the wrong word and thus ending up tarring one of the most important positives of all as a negative.

Tension in the wrist is bad- however it's frequently FAILING to get the wrist taut that causes a locked up wrist. Lose the effortless alignment that comes from merely creating length from elsewhere and the wrist itself is exactly what starts having to seize up in order to maintain balance. Pianists who never learned to get the wrist taut from the right usage of other muscle groups are those who usually have the biggest wrist problems, when they try to play fast. All of a sudden the relaxed wrist that they could flail about in easy pieces has no choice but to start tightening up, or it results in chaotic and uncontrollable movements. This is where the infamous "wall" is reached, that few pianists every get beyond. Speed never becomes possible, because they cannot produce a stable wrist without tension.

Tense wrists are bad, taut wrists (that exist due to a proper creation of length) are extremely positive and indeed outright essential to advanced pianism.

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #27 on: September 13, 2013, 03:56:31 AM »

Tense wrists are bad, taut wrists (that exist due to a proper creation of length) are extremely positive and indeed outright essential to advanced pianism.

Indeed! This is why my old teacher was so hard core about wrist position!!

Offline stevenarmstrong

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #28 on: September 26, 2013, 04:50:21 AM »
You're using the wrong word and thus ending up tarring one of the most important positives of all as a negative.

Tension in the wrist is bad- however it's frequently FAILING to get the wrist taut that causes a locked up wrist.

Tense wrists are bad, taut wrists (that exist due to a proper creation of length) are extremely positive and indeed outright essential to advanced pianism.

I'm quite sure 'taut' and 'tense' are synonymous. Despite the interpretation of the word, I think it's a dangerous word to use. It seems that you are using 'stable' and 'taut' interchangeably: Your use of 'stable',  I agree, with, but 'stable' and 'taut' are two different things. Certainly, I agree tense wrists are detrimental and while there are rare and brief occasions that call for a taut wrist arise, it is a matter of extent. The wrist needs to adapt to the changing demands of a passage; it can't do this if it is taut. 'Supple' is word Arrau used a lot. 'Stable', absolutely, 'secure', even better. Advocating that "taut wrists are extremely positive and outright essential to advanced pianism" is a bit presumptuous and short-sighted...
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
Medtner Op. 5
Shchedrin Basso Ostinato
Silvestrov Op. 2

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #29 on: September 26, 2013, 05:06:58 AM »
I do agree taught is a dangerous word to use. But I think what Nyiregyhazi is referring to is the terrible confusion that so many pianists suffer from regarding the proper use of the wrist.

Many seem to misinterpret the necessary freedom and elasticity of the wrist which the virtuoso does possess, and confuse it instead with an improper playing position in which the wrists are held extremely high, rendering them completely stiff and inflexible.

Offline stevenarmstrong

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #30 on: September 26, 2013, 05:48:18 AM »
I do agree taught is a dangerous word to use. But I think what Nyiregyhazi is referring to is the terrible confusion that so many pianists suffer from regarding the proper use of the wrist.

Many seem to misinterpret the necessary freedom and elasticity of the wrist which the virtuoso does possess, and confuse it instead with an improper playing position in which the wrists are held extremely high, rendering them completely stiff and inflexible.

Totally on board with you there. Especially "necessary freedom and elasticity". Very nice description!
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
Medtner Op. 5
Shchedrin Basso Ostinato
Silvestrov Op. 2

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #31 on: September 26, 2013, 06:03:06 AM »
But I struggled with that heinous wrist posture for years, myself....it didn't help that my teacher would tell me to play with a supple wrist.

It was only after I got that badass teacher who forced me to play with a super low-wrist for two years straight that I really began to understand about wrist freedom and elasticity.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #32 on: September 27, 2013, 01:57:10 AM »
I'm quite sure 'taut' and 'tense' are synonymous. Despite the interpretation of the word, I think it's a dangerous word to use. It seems that you are using 'stable' and 'taut' interchangeably: Your use of 'stable',  I agree, with, but 'stable' and 'taut' are two different things. Certainly, I agree tense wrists are detrimental and while there are rare and brief occasions that call for a taut wrist arise, it is a matter of extent. The wrist needs to adapt to the changing demands of a passage; it can't do this if it is taut. 'Supple' is word Arrau used a lot. 'Stable', absolutely, 'secure', even better. Advocating that "taut wrists are extremely positive and outright essential to advanced pianism" is a bit presumptuous and short-sighted...

Not at all. I'm not using taut and stable to mean the same thing. Something that is taut is it at length. It has a specific kind of stability because it's at length. It's not rigidified. Muscular action involves contraction, not creation of length. However, when you selectively perform the right contractions from the extreme ends of the chain, they create a sense of length though the whole arm and stabilise the middle parts, just like a taut rope. This is the only way to free various muscles of the need to perform activities in order to prevent them falling. If you do not create length properly, the wrist especially has to be stabilised by localised muscle contractions. As matter of necessity, this means the wrist has to involve more muscular contractions than when kept taut from elsewhere, or it will give way.

sorry, but I cannot see any way in which tense and taut might be viewed as the same thing.The meaning of taut is quite specific and has nothing to do with the opposite issue of muscular shortening that occurs when people stiffen everything up. Any "tension" is due to length creation and hence something altogether different from what happens when localised muscles employ "tension". To merely speak of the fact it's achieved by length creation covers the world of difference compared to localised muscle tensions of an arm that fails to achieve length. When you make the middle of a chain taut by lengthening from the ends, only the ends need to do anything to preserve balance. The taut quality is the very thing that eliminates the need to stiffen anything. When a person understands accurately that the quality of being taut is about creation of length, it is the active antidote to tension, not synonymous.

PS I regard the word stable as vastly more dangerous, if the means of generating stability is not known. A pianist who aims to be stable without first learning to balance the wrist via creation of length can only create stability through localised tightness of muscles. Only the creation of length offers a possibility of a stable yet complete free wrist. Miss that and you have either instability or you have stability through severe strength of muscle contractions. Nothing in the forearm should need to aim at stability, or stability tends to equal tension. When you join the hand properly and merely create length in the arm, the necessary level of stability just finds itself in response. You can no more be unstable than a taut washing line can be unstable. It's the drooping washing line that is unstable and which would have to be fixed to achieve stability, unless taut. The wrist is no different. Relaxation and tension are as good as the same thing, if you desire stability, until you create length. At this point, the taut (not muscularly tense) wrist is the only way of having both stability and complete looseness of localised muscles. Not one contraction of wrist muscles is needed to keep the wrist taut- which is why even a corpse can have properly aligned taut wrists if you lengthen their arm out. The word cannot possibly be labelled as if it simply means the same thing as muscle tightness.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #33 on: September 27, 2013, 05:31:02 AM »
As a very experienced practitioner of yoga, not mention a possessor of a modicum of common sense, I know 'lengthening' to be a muscular contraction and hence, can only be brought about by tightening (tautness) of muscles.   i.e. 'creation of length' is creation of tension.   Now, if you are referring to the creative experience of lengthening - that's an equally important but very different matter.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #34 on: September 27, 2013, 11:36:25 AM »
As a very experienced practitioner of yoga, not mention a possessor of a modicum of common sense, I know 'lengthening' to be a muscular contraction and hence, can only be brought about by tightening (tautness) of muscles.   i.e. 'creation of length' is creation of tension.   Now, if you are referring to the creative experience of lengthening - that's an equally important but very different matter.

please read my very first points. I stated myself that muscles cannot actively lengthen  (hence the distinction between a joint that is kept taut via global lengthening vs localised tension). Yet you speak as if I might have overlooked precisely what I stated?

In your haste to attempt pedantry, you've overlooked that joints do not exist in a vacuum from each other. The point is that when the arm is globally made into a single taut chain, you need only a small number of muscular contractions at the end to achieve balance. None of internal points must be fixed with localised effort. Even a corpse can have a taut wrist, if strapped to a chair and if someone pulls it's hand out into length. Nobody claimed that not a single muscle shortens in pianism, so forget the strawman. The point is that by making the arm taut via connection between finger and key and by pulling any slack out via the upper arm, there is literally zero requirement of LOCALISED muscular activities in the wrist, in order to suspend it. When not taut, thsre is significant need for localised muscle contraction.

Ultimately it'd a matter of whether you create a situation where every muscle had to fend for itself, or whether you use creation of length to ensure that the most significant muscle actions eliminate the need for unwanted ones.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #35 on: September 27, 2013, 06:20:45 PM »
Nobody claimed that not a single muscle shortens in pianism, so forget the strawman.
Well, I think you got me there!  How can an argument against something mythical actually hold up?  Take the unicorn for instance - to really argue against its existence you've got to formulate an idea of one.  That idea must always be of straw as the original or authentic doesn't exist.   Hence the boy who constantly has to cry "Straw!".
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #36 on: September 28, 2013, 03:50:53 AM »
Well, I think you got me there!  How can an argument against something mythical actually hold up?  Take the unicorn for instance - to really argue against its existence you've got to formulate an idea of one.  That idea must always be of straw as the original or authentic doesn't exist.   Hence the boy who constantly has to cry "Straw!".

you have not made a topically relevant point. If your previous point stood up to scrutiny, it would therefore be impossible to make a corpse's wrist taut without assuming that the dead had been resuscitated and awakened their wrist muscles. Your fallacious simplification is the only one that requires acceptance of myth. For it it to be accurate, the dead would have to be zombies that can all conveniently contract wrist muscles in the instant when anyone lengthens their arm out. No muscle contraction about the wrist is needed in order to make a wrist taut and thus automatically balanced (if alternative muscle contractions create length from elsewhere in the chain of the whole arm). A taut line does not require localised muscle contraction in the wrist. It requires creation of length from elsewhere in the chain of the whole arm. If you insist that only muscle contractions in the wrist can cause that, you also have to argue in favour of the living dead, in order to explain how a corpse's wrist can be suspended in the very same way. As a clue, dead people cannot contract muscles, so the accurate explanation as to how pulling a dead person's hand towards you might create a a taut and aligned wrist exists elsewhere. It does not relate to any nonsense about that dead person supposedly having to have contracted muscles around their wrist, so as to balance it. It relates to the fact that causing their arm to be lengthened makes the wrist taut and thus suspended without effort about the wrist. They're dead, remember, so how could muscle contractions in the wrist even be on the table?

Resort to smoke and mirrors, if you will, but this objective fact will not go away. It's the rational explanation as to why  "awesome " was able to develop his technique so much further when he stopped flailing with a wrist that was slack and instead learned to support it as a taut suspended midpoint within a lengthened arm (ie in a stable position that occurs without fixing the wrist into stability via localised tensions). No amount of misinterpretation of reality will either explain how a dead person can have their wrist made taut, or refute the fact that living people too can stabilise their wrist by creating length in the wrist via action of muscles that exist elsewhere.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #37 on: September 28, 2013, 05:07:18 AM »
No muscle contraction about the wrist is needed in order to make a wrist taut and thus automatically balanced (if alternative muscle contractions create length from elsewhere in the chain of the whole arm). A taut line does not require localised muscle contraction in the wrist. It requires creation of length from elsewhere in the chain of the whole arm. If you insist that only muscle contractions in the wrist can cause that, you also have to argue in favour of the living dead, in order to explain how a corpse's wrist can be suspended in the very same way.
You say the same thing over and over again.  It's all just a 'thought experiment' and has obviously got no further.  It's muscle that brings about 'tautness', end of story.  Any other explanation is pure subjective experience and hey, maybe your chain is a good analogy to use, but what it ain't is science. 

As usual, the myth status of your proposition requires you rely on a negative rhetoric - playing the man, and please stop going on about corpses, it's macabre.  
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #38 on: September 28, 2013, 05:21:52 AM »
It's muscle that brings about 'tautness', end of story.

Exactly as I already stated myself in my original post. If you cannot appreciate that the issue of WHICH muscles are doing the job and how forcefully they must work is the hugely significant issue, you're not looking at it from an intelligent point of view or accurately representing what you are arguing against. Nobody ever said that no muscles are involved and it's rather sad that you repeat the same straw man argument that I already picked you up on. I repeat - not only had I not denied that point, but I already directly stated the same myself. Clearly you are only interested in trying to smear conflicting points via gross misrepresentation of them, rather than in addressing what has actually been brought to the the table and responding accordingly. Argue against what I have stated by all means, but if you can only argue against points that have never been made (or worse still, falsely imply that points which I explicitly made myself might somehow contradict my stance) take it elsewhere, please.

PS I couldn't give a damn about what is macabre. I'm more concerned with exposing the fallacy of the belief that a taut wrist must be caused by contracting wrist muscles. That a corpse can have a taut wrist (when lengthened out) proves this utterly wrong - unless we assume that a corpse can contact muscles. Get over yourself and accept objective reality. Only an ignoramus clings to a belief that is conclusively contradicted by a concrete counterexample.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #39 on: September 28, 2013, 06:46:56 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #40 on: September 28, 2013, 07:10:55 AM »
Resort to smoke and mirrors, if you will, but this objective fact will not go away. It's the rational explanation as to why  "awesome " was able to develop his technique so much further when he stopped flailing with a wrist that was slack and instead learned to support it as a taut suspended midpoint within a lengthened arm (ie in a stable position that occurs without fixing the wrist into stability via localised tensions).
And how would you know that?  This is pure conjecture.  Where is the science? 
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #41 on: September 28, 2013, 07:12:44 AM »
Whether everything he says is "scientifically justified" or not is not important.
I'm afraid it is as he claims it to be science.  I'm perfectly happy with it as subjective experience.

And Dima, if you are going to study Alexander Technique please get this right:  by primary control Alexander meant the combination of neck extension with head flexion (really the head just hangs on top of the spine off the nuchal ligament).  Head forward and up gives the wrong impression - Alexander should have used anatomical terms.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #42 on: September 28, 2013, 08:08:41 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #43 on: September 28, 2013, 08:35:10 AM »
One of my teacher's last articles before she died was entitled 'Pianist's wrist - The second breathing organ'
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #44 on: September 28, 2013, 11:01:06 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #45 on: September 28, 2013, 12:25:31 PM »
And how would you know that?  This is pure conjecture.  Where is the science?  

the science is in the objective fact that a series of slack joints droops down unless it should be fixated into place.whereas a series of joints that is lengthened out via the ends (ie taut)  requires no locking of joints in order to avoid the sagging under gravity. It requires no internal force to be generated anywhere but the ends.  Stability is generated globally and not locally in every joint.


No wrist is immune to this. Rather than keep making accusations that you are unable to personally support, go and find any scientist who would refute those facts. If you think you might then best of luck to you.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #46 on: September 28, 2013, 12:43:37 PM »
Too little is still known about how we generate power. "Contraction" as a point of focus doesn't seem like the right solution, especially if the contraction happens in the wrong places. We need a spiral movement to generate power, and (too much) contraction (in the wrong places) hampers that. People interested may want to read something about the Alexander Technique and tennis. Here are some excellent articles that prove that N. is quite right in what he states. Whether everything he says is "scientifically justified" or not is not important.
http://www.tenniswithouttension.com/articles.html (down the page. Especially "Using the Alexander Technique to generate power" is quite revealing)

@ N.:

You may want to think of something else to examplify your case. I have a very serious argument against your example of a corpse: "Pianist Zombie knows only two songs, and they're both groaners." (c) ;D

Interesting articles. Recently I've been noticing how the same principles apply in swimming. Although certain parts necessarily contract to perform the stroke, the wrist in particular tends to have to lock itself into place unless you feel the simpler action of trying to lengthen out. When various parts miss this, the resistance from the water can start to feel huge. When it's done right, you just glide through.

Offline hardy_practice

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1586
Re: Wrist can't move up and down while playing?
«Reply #47 on: September 28, 2013, 02:59:10 PM »
Sounds beautiful in wording, but I see a deeper meaning here: we should leave it alone. Just imagine what problems we would have if we could deliberately control the muscles that make our "first breathing organ" work!  ;)
Leschetizky likened the wrist to the singer's taking a breath at the end of a phrase.  And yes, maybe that's as far as we should go.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM