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teaching techniques for weak fingers (Read 11677 times)

Offline carrie10

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teaching techniques for weak fingers
« on: September 01, 2013, 03:14:06 PM »
Hello fellow piano teachers,

I'm wondering if any of you have some good teaching techniques and/or exercises to use with students for those weak fingers/fingering passages.  I'm specifically looking for ways to help my late intermediate/early advanced student play fast sixteenth note passages without finger 4 'getting in the way', or 'sounding muddy'; know what I mean?  We're also trying to get her thumb to play more smoothly when she moves it under her other fingers.  Any tips are greatly appreciated!

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #1 on: September 01, 2013, 03:32:48 PM »
The problem isn't weak fingers, it's weak and underdeveloped hands.

We play with the hand, not the fingers. Although it takes a great many years to develop the strength and fluidity of movement that a virtuoso has, intermediate/early advanced students should not be experiencing these issues which you describe if they have been taught how to use the hands correctly from an earlier level.

I highly recommend the B major scale for developing the hands. If students can play the B major scale hands together four octaves, in various configurations such as separated by a third, sixth, octave, tenth, in similar motion and contrary motion, with control of the velocity and tone, then they should be ready for just about anything in the intermediate-advanced repertoire.

Really focus on the B major scale, and all of their other scales will fall into place.

I would also make sure to insist that they practice without pedal at home, so that bad habits of the foot do not develop early.

Offline mjames

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #2 on: September 01, 2013, 05:59:42 PM »
That's some great advice, Awesome. I've actually been having a little trouble during fast passages. Like one of my weaker fingers falling asleep and as result it muddies the sound :/

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #3 on: September 02, 2013, 01:58:10 PM »
That's some great advice, Awesome. I've actually been having a little trouble during fast passages. Like one of my weaker fingers falling asleep and as result it muddies the sound :/

Do you practice without the sustain pedal?

It is extremely beneficial to practice with the music in front of us and our right foot FLAT on the floor, several inches away from anything that is metal.

Offline keypeg

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #4 on: September 04, 2013, 06:17:15 PM »

I highly recommend the B major scale for developing the hands. ....
If this teacher is focusing on fingers, and if all the teacher's advanced students are having the same problems, then wouldn't the B major scale be taught the same way technically?  In the start of your post you write about the whole hand being involved - I know what you mean and agree with it.  But will it be taught that way?  A scale, study, or passage in and of itself will not teach technique.  The right actions must also be taught.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #5 on: September 05, 2013, 02:35:07 PM »
If this teacher is focusing on fingers, and if all the teacher's advanced students are having the same problems, then wouldn't the B major scale be taught the same way technically?  In the start of your post you write about the whole hand being involved - I know what you mean and agree with it.  But will it be taught that way?  A scale, study, or passage in and of itself will not teach technique.  The right actions must also be taught.

The beauty of the B major scale is that it teaches the right movements more or less automatically, as long as you play it with good control of velocity and evenness of tone!

There is no way you can cheat with B major and make it sound it good. Good sound and good movement come together as one with this key!


Offline rembetissa

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #6 on: September 06, 2013, 04:11:57 PM »
Hanon exercises did me a world of good in getting a better sound from my fourth and fifth fingers. I don't give those exercises to all my students, but the few who have done them have also shown improvement. With the little ones I make up exercises that will allow them to stay in a five-finger position but still focus on the fingers they have trouble with.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #7 on: September 06, 2013, 11:18:18 PM »
I'm not big on Hanon.

They're not bad if you play them in every single key. But then that takes so much time! You could be using that time to do anything or learn anything!

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #8 on: September 08, 2013, 08:41:28 AM »
Hi there

I'd highly recommend Hanon; no. 1 will do. But! Take the first five notes as a fast quintuplet followed by an accent with the fourth finger and hold. The remaining two notes should be played as fast as the quintuplet. You maintain the two beats to a bar: the thumb and the fourth finger are on the beat. Also, play with the default rhythms but alternate back and forth between the fourth and fifth finger a couple of times i.e. play the fifth finger 3 times. Slow staccato practice that isolates each finger is very good too. But let the second and third fingers help the fourth on the way down by lifting also BUT they must relax at the same time (as though all strapped together). Try to limit it to the third finger...then help the fourth by lifting the fifth finger on the way up. They must must must lift exactly synchronised and relax as the fourth finger strikes.

Regarding the thumb, I'd recommend the student holds the third finger down on an E for example and practices passing the thumb from C to F without releasing the E at all. Both the C and the F should be played with a nice tenuto and without dropping the hand at all. The thumb should move quickly. with minimal gap between the C and F and without accent.

Hope that helps :)

And I'd like to add that, with due respect, I don't agree with awesom_o that we play with the hand and not the fingers. I believe it very much so comes down to the fine fingerwork; lifting at the first knuckle; not buckling at the last joint; not pressing or squeezing. I'd suggest the weakness comes from lazy knuckles. Of course, the hand is involved, or really, the wrist, but that's not really related to weak fingers...that's chords, certain staccatos, octaves etc. Also B major won't strengthen the fingers: it's too easy. It fits the hand so perfectly that the fingers hardly need to work. I feel that D and B harmonic minor have greater value in terms of strength building.

No offence intended!
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
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Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #9 on: September 08, 2013, 12:49:19 PM »
Hi there

I'd highly recommend Hanon; no. 1 will do. But! Take the first five notes as a fast quintuplet followed by an accent with the fourth finger and hold. The remaining two notes should be played as fast as the quintuplet. You maintain the two beats to a bar: the thumb and the fourth finger are on the beat. Also, play with the default rhythms but alternate back and forth between the fourth and fifth finger a couple of times i.e. play the fifth finger 3 times. Slow staccato practice that isolates each finger is very good too. But let the second and third fingers help the fourth on the way down by lifting also BUT they must relax at the same time (as though all strapped together). Try to limit it to the third finger...then help the fourth by lifting the fifth finger on the way up. They must must must lift exactly synchronised and relax as the fourth finger strikes.

Regarding the thumb, I'd recommend the student holds the third finger down on an E for example and practices passing the thumb from C to F without releasing the E at all. Both the C and the F should be played with a nice tenuto and without dropping the hand at all. The thumb should move quickly. with minimal gap between the C and F and without accent.

Hope that helps :)

And I'd like to add that, with due respect, I don't agree with awesom_o that we play with the hand and not the fingers. I believe it very much so comes down to the fine fingerwork; lifting at the first knuckle; not buckling at the last joint; not pressing or squeezing. I'd suggest the weakness comes from lazy knuckles. Of course, the hand is involved, or really, the wrist, but that's not really related to weak fingers...that's chords, certain staccatos, octaves etc. Also B major won't strengthen the fingers: it's too easy. It fits the hand so perfectly that the fingers hardly need to work. I feel that D and B harmonic minor have greater value in terms of strength building.

No offence intended!


No offense taken!

You may not agree with awesom_o..... but the question is, do you play as well as awesom_o?

I certainly agree fine finger-work is required for advanced playing. I do not agree that lifting at the first knuckle is at all necessary. I think it is dangerous.

Harmonic minor is great for building strength. It's much harder for all of my pupils than the major scales, both to remember, and to execute fluidly.

I see strength at the keyboard as being a long term, indirect sort of goal that the pupil will arrive at eventually on their own, but only if they have achieved quickness and evenness of touch first.

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #10 on: September 09, 2013, 03:30:07 AM »
Well you just lost all credit with a comment like that.
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
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Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #11 on: September 10, 2013, 02:28:52 PM »
I'm sorry. It's very easy to disagree with me. Anyone can do that. It only takes seconds!

It's much harder to actually play at a higher level than I do. That takes years!

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #12 on: September 26, 2013, 02:29:08 AM »
I'm sorry. It's very easy to disagree with me. Anyone can do that. It only takes seconds!

It's much harder to actually play at a higher level than I do. That takes years!

You are so right! You must be amazing! Tell us more about how great you are!
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
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Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #13 on: September 26, 2013, 03:31:16 AM »
I wouldn't say I am amazing.... but I certainly live an amazing life.
I am a composer and an improviser.
Tonight, my girlfriend and I performed Beethoven's 9th Symphony arranged for 2 pianos by Liszt.

My musical interests range from the early Renaissance through to blues and jazz. I've recently recorded both op. 10 and op. 25 by Chopin.

I love to teach creative improvisation! I am also a serious student of the cello and the recorder!

What about you? Tell us about how great you are!

Offline outin

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #14 on: September 26, 2013, 03:52:50 AM »
I wouldn't say I am amazing....


What about you? Tell us about how great you are!


You may not be amazing, but some of your recordings are pretty awesome  ;)

But you should know that most people do not like it if you tell them about how amazing/great/genious you are...You are supposed to wait until they notice it themselves...I personally do not mind, but I guess it's sometimes better to appreciate my amazingness quietly  8)

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #15 on: September 26, 2013, 04:28:03 AM »
I've always thought I was anything but a genius. I barely scraped through high school, and never got beyond trigonometry in maths. I've never been very good at sports or other languages, and I am not particularly well-read or bookish in general. Although I was musical as a child, it would be a huge stretch of the imagination to say I was a prodigy.  :o

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #16 on: September 26, 2013, 04:39:01 AM »
...it seems you are not able to recognise sarcasm. I don't feel compelled, nor do I think it's fruitful, to talk about one's "greatness". I have only heard great pianists talk about music, not themselves. They are humbled by music.
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
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Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #17 on: September 26, 2013, 04:44:50 AM »
I talk plenty about music. It's you who is talking about all of this weird stuff like 'finger lifting' and 'arm weight' that has nothing to do with music whatsoever!

Offline outin

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #18 on: September 26, 2013, 04:45:01 AM »
Although I was musical as a child, it would be a huge stretch of the imagination to say I was a prodigy.  :o

Does one need to be a prodigy to become amazing?

What do you mean you're not good at sports? You can juggle! ::)

One rarely shows greatness in things one does not feel are important. What would be the point anyway...

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #19 on: September 26, 2013, 04:51:22 AM »
I think to become really good at something, you have to become an adult prodigy. For my taste, most child prodigies don't really have the X factor that just makes a person really good.

I can juggle but I can barely skate and I live in the land of hockey.  :(

I think anyone can become an adult prodigy if they really want to.

Offline outin

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #20 on: September 26, 2013, 05:38:17 AM »
I think to become really good at something, you have to become an adult prodigy. For my taste, most child prodigies don't really have the X factor that just makes a person really good.

I can juggle but I can barely skate and I live in the land of hockey.  :(

I think anyone can become an adult prodigy if they really want to.
I thought I live in the land of hockey?
Never cared for skating though...hitting the ice does not appeal to me...

I am counting on the adult progidy thing...although I am sceptic about the unimportance of earlier exposure.

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #21 on: September 26, 2013, 05:45:06 AM »
awesom_o:
It has become very apparent that you "barely scraped through high school" and are "not particularly well-read or bookish in general" as you seem to be struggling to understand the argument and your rebuttals, so to speak, are tenuous . By music I mean great pianists talk about the art itself, which may or may not include discussion of technique: point being, they rarely talk about themselves i.e. rarely show conceit, complacency etc. You seem to be struggling to understand that.

I may contribute to a discussion that is about technique. Don't you? It has its place. I mean, my god! Technique is just so weird huh?! Is this topic not called 'teaching techniques for weak fingers'? Find me one great pianist who says fine finger-work arm-weight is 'weird stuff' (or similar with a more sophisticated vocabulary). I enjoy talking about technique and interpretation. Does not all art involve technique? Technique is required to bring the dots on the page into sound: the better the technique, the more clearly one can communicate whatever it is they wish to convey. Is not the point of musical communities, such as this, to share ideas and enrich our cultural lives? Or is this just a platform for your ego? That's a rhetorical question.

Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
Medtner Op. 5
Shchedrin Basso Ostinato
Silvestrov Op. 2

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #22 on: September 26, 2013, 05:52:48 AM »
Yeah I'm not 100% sure about early exposure not being a part of it.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #23 on: September 26, 2013, 05:54:09 AM »
steven, why don't you post something in the audition room for us all to hear?  :)

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #24 on: September 26, 2013, 07:11:29 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 awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #25 on: September 26, 2013, 07:14:17 AM »
dima, aren't you supposed to make a little contribution to the audition room yourself?

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #26 on: September 26, 2013, 07:19:05 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 awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #27 on: September 26, 2013, 07:23:43 AM »
ah.... I see. Let me know if you have any questions.  ;)

Offline stevenarmstrong

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #28 on: November 04, 2013, 02:20:40 AM »
steven, why don't you post something in the audition room for us all to hear?  :)

yeah maybe I will if I get something substantial ready. I have to perform Franck PC & F and Prokofiev 7th soon so I suppose I can make a recording of them.
Debussy Preludes 1:4, 2:9.
Beethoven Op. 22
Medtner Op. 5
Shchedrin Basso Ostinato
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Offline amelialw

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #29 on: November 05, 2013, 04:00:28 AM »
When I started with my mentor initially, I had weak fingers (joints which were flat).
She basically re-built my technique by working through 1-2 keys of all scales required (regular scales, 3rd apart, 3rd's, broken chords etc.) consistently from slow speed starting with 2 octaves whilst reinforcing how I should shape my fingers etc. It took a long time since I started with her at the age of 16; at least a good 2 years to work through everything. I would say that I've only reached that stage now where my fingers have been developed to the extent that it no longer hinders me from being able to do much which I couldn't do...and this is me 10 years later.

For another teacher whom I studied with and am studying with now again he used to write down and insist that I had to use the fingering which he gave me. That forced me to use my weaker fingers more often and it helped.
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Offline j_menz

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #30 on: November 05, 2013, 04:17:34 AM »
I was trying Shostakovich preludes and fugues, and this 7-year old comes up to me and says: "Dima, if you can't play that, then why don't you do some of that other stuff you did the other day? This really sounds like [censored]." ;D

 ;D

Try some pedal.

** ducks for cover
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline jerrys88

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #31 on: January 23, 2014, 02:05:44 PM »
The problem isn't weak fingers, it's weak and underdeveloped hands.

We play with the hand, not the fingers.

Huh? What the heck does that mean? When you play a series of 16th notes do you flop your whole hand from one note to the next in super-rapid succession?

This statement highlights how subjective and not-to-be trusted people's perceptions and descriptions of their own technique is. You obviously can play at a high level. If you didn't have well-developed finger articulation that wouldn't be the case. Well-coordinated hand and arm movements are, of course, all part of a good technique, but the foundation, backed up by reams and reams of exercises written by all the famous pedagogues of the golden age of piano playing, is well-developed finger articulation. If nothing else, pure logic dictates this to be true. It is obvious to me that you underestimate the level of power* and independence of your fingers, perhaps because you developed them naturally or with good training at an early age and take it for granted and don't realize how fundamental it is to your ability to play advanced repertoire. Certainly your statement belies a lack of understanding of what it feels like for a person who has not developed a competent level of finger power and independence to play the piano, and in that regard you a very fortunate, but should recognize that there are elements to your technique that you take for granted but when missing are incapacitating.

Some suggestions for developing weak fingers:

1) Holding exercises (Schmidt, Dohnanyi)

2) Choose some passages or etudes that includes frequent use of a finger that needs work and accent it throughout the passage (make sure you don't play from the surface of the key, i.e. pushing the key, but rather strike from a distance above - the "unprepared" touch).

By the way, be sure to test the fingers you assume are not weak. You might be surprised to find your assumption wrong. I am currently working on my 2nd finger - took me forever to discover how lacking in power it is.

*Raw strength = ability to lift or move heavy object. Power = ability to move body part with great speed.

Offline jerrys88

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #32 on: January 23, 2014, 02:43:15 PM »
Forgot to add:

1) Pischna exercises (more holding exercises). By the way, holding exercises are effective precisely because they take hand movement - up-down, rotation, etc. - out of the equation by "immobilizing" it, thus "forcing" the articulating finger(s) to work, and work independently. (Yes, yes, it is possible to keep the hand relatively quiet without tensing - notice the use of quotation marks around the word "immobilizing".)

2) Practicing scales is, of course, essential, but practicing single-note scales is a particularly poor way to develop the 4th and 5th fingers. Why? Because in each octave you play 1-2-3 twice, 4 once, and 5 only once no matter how many octaves you play.

3) I've had a lot of teachers in my lifetime and I can safely say that level of playing of a piano teacher has no guaranteed correlation to their ability to diagnose and teach technique. In fact, the opposite is possibly more likely to be true. Why? Because it's likely a truly advanced pianist developed their technique when they were young children. By the time they reach adulthood they very well may forget or discount the work it took to develop their fingers. They also won't know what it feels like for a student who has not had proper early training to play. Additionally, the norm for many advanced teachers is to focus on interpretation and spot-technical problems, not diagnosing and re-building, if necessary, one's basic technique. (not one of the many teachers I've studied with ever bothered to test the power and independence of each of my fingers - alarm - alarm - alarm....). Rebuilding a technique may, in fact, require abandoning repertoire for extended time - perhaps even years. Not many advanced teachers are likely to want to do that.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #33 on: January 24, 2014, 05:23:03 AM »

3) I've had a lot of teachers in my lifetime and I can safely say that level of playing of a piano teacher has no guaranteed correlation to their ability to diagnose and teach technique. In fact, the opposite is possibly more likely to be true. Why? Because it's likely a truly advanced pianist developed their technique when they were young children. By the time they reach adulthood they very well may forget or discount the work it took to develop their fingers. They also won't know what it feels like for a student who has not had proper early training to play. Additionally, the norm for many advanced teachers is to focus on interpretation and spot-technical problems, not diagnosing and re-building, if necessary, one's basic technique. (not one of the many teachers I've studied with ever bothered to test the power and independence of each of my fingers - alarm - alarm - alarm....). Rebuilding a technique may, in fact, require abandoning repertoire for extended time - perhaps even years. Not many advanced teachers are likely to want to do that.

Jerry!!

My goodness, it's been a while! A very long while, in fact. Did you ever complete the ABC exercises which I emailed you so many years ago?

As you know, my technique was not advanced in childhood. I rebuilt it virtually from scratch with a new teacher, starting from about the age of 16!!

So, although I would agree with you in stating that many advanced pianists learned their technique too early on to be able to understand it intellectually, I would not count myself among that group.

I have quite a strong memory of how I developed my technique, as I did it mainly between the ages of 16 and 18.  Of course, I had to abandon repertoire for quite some time while working on technique exclusively!


Offline jerrys88

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #34 on: January 24, 2014, 05:30:59 PM »
Hey, Awesom_o - how's it going! Yeah - I've been staying away so long I didn't recognize your screen name.

Yes - I remember starting to work on the ABCs - a set of "tongue-twister" for the fingers - very clever! However, when it came time to move on to the Philip exercises I decided to write my own holding exercises based on Pischna - a set of only six exercises that more efficiently covered all the fingers. They were very helpful to me. Interestingly, though, after doing them and working on etudes and passages for a long time, I finally discovered that my 2nd finger was cheating all along - not really articulating fully. It was then that, through experiment and closer inspection, I came to notice that my 2nd finger was ultra resistant to playing from above the key (striking from a slight distance vs. starting on the key surface and pushing). I've since started addressing the issue by practicing etudes and passages while consciously "forcing" my 2nd to lift and strike. What a huge difference it makes. It's so interesting to make improvements in a finger's ability to articulate and then go back and play familiar passages. More often than not the passage comes to life. This after playing it hundreds of times without noticing the deficiency! I just remembered now that before discovering my "weak" 2nd, and had the same experience with my 3rd.

Anyway, I'm sorry to criticize something you've written - I have great respect for your talent and technical ability - but I would just caution you not to make such broad statements as "we play the piano not with our fingers, but with our hands." It's not so black and white. Both must be mastered to play advanced repertoire, as I think you'll agree. Don't forget that after the ABC exercises you shared with me, the next step was a year, if not two, of Philip finger independence exercises! :-)

Best regards!

Jerry


Offline nick

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #35 on: January 24, 2014, 09:26:11 PM »
Huh? What the heck does that mean? When you play a series of 16th notes do you flop your whole hand from one note to the next in super-rapid succession?

Not to put words in awesomes mouth but I think his point is there are no muscles in the fingers, and the hand with it's muscles must be developed in the correct way. These muscles control the fingers. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Nick

Offline sucom

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #36 on: January 24, 2014, 11:10:23 PM »
Just to add my own thoughts to this thread...

@ awesome - It is very clear to see that you are very well practised and have mastered the whole problem of weak fingers and obviously have your own methods which have worked for you and I respect that.  For me personally, however, I'm not certain that the B major scale would help to develop strength, evenness and flow in the fingers if only because the position of the black keys falls very easily under the natural shape of the hand.  In other words, for me, it is one of the easier scales to practise and doesn't especially help weaker fingers.

The way which worked well for me was deliberately practising anything which felt difficult for my fingers to play, especially the 4th finger.  The more practise on pieces or studies which feels difficult, the easier they become.  To me, that's a simple answer but one thing which I did feel helped my weaker fingers was the exercise my teacher gave me when I first began music college.

The exercise to be done with both hands mirroring each other, is:

C D E F G F E D|C D Eb F G F Eb D| C Db Eb F Gb F Eb Db |
Db Eb F G Ab Gb F Eb | C# D# E F# G# F# E D# | C# D E F# G F# E D |
D E F# G A G F# E | D E F G A G F E | D Eb F G Ab G F Eb |
Eb F G Ab Bb Ab G F | Eb F Gb Ab Bb Ab G F | D# E F# G A G F# E |
E F# G# A B A G# F# .... and so on until C is reached again.

The right thumb begins on C and the left thumb begins a fourth down on G, and the left hand mirrors the right hand as it moves through the key changes.  I found this exercise extremely help for developing the fingers and believe it would help others too.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #37 on: January 25, 2014, 12:34:33 AM »
Not to put words in awesomes mouth but I think his point is there are no muscles in the fingers, and the hand with it's muscles must be developed in the correct way. These muscles control the fingers. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Nick

You are not wrong. This is absolutely correct.

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #38 on: January 25, 2014, 01:05:33 AM »

Anyway, I'm sorry to criticize something you've written - I have great respect for your talent and technical ability - but I would just caution you not to make such broad statements as "we play the piano not with our fingers, but with our hands." It's not so black and white. Both must be mastered to play advanced repertoire, as I think you'll agree. Don't forget that after the ABC exercises you shared with me, the next step was a year, if not two, of Philip finger independence exercises! :-)


 
No offense taken, Jerry! It's great to speak to you again after so long!

Of course, nothing in piano-playing is black-and-white.

Except for everything! . Every single key is either black, or white ;)

"Finger-strength", given that there are no muscles in the fingers, is a dubious notion.

Finger independence is what most people are really lacking!

Coordination of the hands is also extremely important in playing the piano!

Ultimately, we use the entire body when we play the piano! Not just the hands. Not just the fingers. Not just the arms.

The goal is to develop your musicianship to such a high level, that you can essentially just think musically, and your body, being so highly-trained, will always do the right thing, based on your musical thinking.


Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #39 on: January 25, 2014, 01:56:55 AM »
Just to add my own thoughts to this thread...

@ awesome - It is very clear to see that you are very well practised and have mastered the whole problem of weak fingers and obviously have your own methods which have worked for you and I respect that.  For me personally, however, I'm not certain that the B major scale would help to develop strength, evenness and flow in the fingers if only because the position of the black keys falls very easily under the natural shape of the hand.  In other words, for me, it is one of the easier scales to practise and doesn't especially help weaker fingers.



I hope I didn't imply that the B major scale was ALL that a person would need to develop great technique!

You are right that it fits the hand so well that it is the easiest scale to play evenly and smoothly!

There are many ways to practice scales, however! I think that if you can play a B major scale with exceptional quality of legato, your technique is in good shape!

Offline jerrys88

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #40 on: January 25, 2014, 02:31:34 AM »

"Finger-strength", given that there are no muscles in the fingers, is a dubious notion.

Finger independence is what most people are really lacking!


I do believe it's essential to develop both finger independence and power - they go "hand-in-hand" - you can't have one without the other! Yes, of course - the muscles that allow us to move individual fingers are not in the fingers themselves, but rather in the hand, and very noticeably in the forearm, but that, in my opinion, is beside the point. The point is to develop the muscles that allow us to move each individual finger, wherever those muscles happen to be.

Oh, what I would give to have developed my technique at 16 as you did. After all the work I've done, I can't escape the conclusion that not all that was missed in one's youth can be made up for in middle age. Still, I have made good progress and should be able to return to repertoire next year. At least I'll know I tried my best.

Great to run into you again as well, awesom_o. Now you've inspired me to revisit your ABC's - I've been saving them on my work computer's desktop all these years!

All the best. :-)

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #41 on: January 25, 2014, 05:16:25 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 nick

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #42 on: January 25, 2014, 12:00:07 PM »
Coordination of the hands is also extremely important in playing the piano!
/quote]

How about this idea: coordination of each finger! The ability to make sure when one finger is pressing the key, the prior finger releases at the precise time. This I think takes careful listening, observing and coordination. Since revamping my technique I found I was missing this, so slowing down much until mastered at one speed before moving up is essential. Don't you think the raised finger people when realizing this problem solved it by just raising the fingers? The idea being that one cannot play clearly, distinctly without.

Nick

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #43 on: January 25, 2014, 03:35:04 PM »


How about this idea: coordination of each finger! The ability to make sure when one finger is pressing the key, the prior finger releases at the precise time. This I think takes careful listening, observing and coordination.

Nick

This is precisely the type of coordination that is developed through the ABC exercises.

It's completely possible to play clearly and distinctly without raising the fingers. Listen to Glenn Gould! Nobody has ever played contrapuntal music as clearly and distinctly as he was able to!


Offline nick

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #44 on: January 25, 2014, 04:03:05 PM »
This is precisely the type of coordination that is developed through the ABC exercises.

It's completely possible to play clearly and distinctly without raising the fingers. Listen to Glenn Gould! Nobody has ever played contrapuntal music as clearly and distinctly as he was able to!



Curious as to what are the abc exercises?

Btw. I am observing in my own practice that lack of coordination has more to do with weakness. Slowing down to develop those small muscles seems to be the way.

Nick

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #45 on: January 25, 2014, 04:17:08 PM »


I am observing in my own practice that lack of coordination has more to do with weakness. Slowing down to develop those small muscles seems to be the way.


Sounds good to me!

The ABC's are a highly demanding set of exercises designed to challenge and improve the connection between the brain and the fingers.

Offline nick

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #46 on: January 25, 2014, 04:20:12 PM »
Sounds good to me!

The ABC's are a highly demanding set of exercises designed to challenge and improve the connection between the brain and the fingers.

I did a search with others asking about them, no link yet? Supposed to be a video?

Just playing correctly and listening is a challenge that I think improves the connection between the brain and fingers.  ;)  I'm open for more info though.

Nick

Offline awesom_o

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Re: teaching techniques for weak fingers
«Reply #47 on: January 25, 2014, 04:37:13 PM »
I did a search with others asking about them, no link yet? Supposed to be a video?

Just playing correctly and listening is a challenge that I think improves the connection between the brain and fingers.  ;)  I open for more info though.


I promise to make a video soon! I'm just out of the country at the moment, but I will make a video on the ABC's when I get back home.

In the mean time, like you said, playing correctly and listening well will be of great benefit to your musicianship!