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Topic: Wrists Too Stiff  (Read 2646 times)

Offline rmchenry

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Wrists Too Stiff
on: February 11, 2015, 01:03:10 AM
Hi all,

I have been playing since age about 12, only ever had one year of "proper" teaching, just play for my own sanity.  Now in my 60's.  Repertoire Chopin Waltzes, Beethoven Pathetique, Schubert Impromptus and similar.

Lately I've become more critical of my playing and when watching and listening to a video of my playing it seems there is a stiffness in wrist movement which of course translates to a "stiffness" in the music.

Advice on how to free up wrist movement would be appreciated.
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Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #1 on: February 11, 2015, 08:29:21 AM
Hang your hand from your wrist (about a 90 degree angle).  Drop into the key(s) - with stiffness at the moment key(s) are engaged.  Totally relax by the time the key(s) are down - your hand and arm should at that point be in a line (180 degrees).  
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline brogers70

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #2 on: February 12, 2015, 01:14:23 AM
I think this is the sort of problem that a teacher can help a lot with. I was playing similar repertoire and had similarly stiff wrists. A good teacher helped me start my technique from scratch, and after a year and a half of working with her I feel much more relaxed, in the wrists especially, and I produce a much better sound. I don't think I could have made similar progress just by reading people's accounts of how you should play; too much face to face feedback was required for me to "get it."

Offline bonesquirrel

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #3 on: February 12, 2015, 01:24:27 AM
I understand what you mean, it is especially difficult for me since I have a really bad right wrist from old ligament injuries in combat sport. So my wrist is a little stiff and painful no matter what. But the advice that hardy_practice offered, is perfect.

Offline rmchenry

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #4 on: February 12, 2015, 07:27:08 AM
I think this is the sort of problem that a teacher can help a lot with. I was playing similar repertoire and had similarly stiff wrists. A good teacher helped me start my technique from scratch, and after a year and a half of working with her I feel much more relaxed, in the wrists especially, and I produce a much better sound. I don't think I could have made similar progress just by reading people's accounts of how you should play; too much face to face feedback was required for me to "get it."

Thanks for that. I have tried a couple of times to start again with a teacher but have not found one so far who was interested in helping me to improve on what I already can do. I'm in Melbourne, Australia and if anybody knows a suitable teacher I'd be glad to hear from you!

Offline kevingreiner

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #5 on: February 21, 2016, 01:50:43 PM
Hello,

I used to have this issue a lot to. Something that has helped me is to simply notice the stiffness and think about why I am stiff. When you notice the stiffness in your wrists, ask yourself where else in my body could be causing this issue? The more you focus on a particular part of your body the easier it is for you to identity how your muscles work. Just like practicing a section of a piece over and over until you feel comfortable.

 Everyone learns how to relax differently. The only person who knows how your body works is you. What may work for someone else may not work for you. It also depends on the mood of your day. The other members are right that a teacher could help with this.

One last tip, knowing where to go is a key point. A lot of people know where to go physically, but not mentally. Knowing the difference between jumping and sliding helps a lot. Eliminating movements that are not necessary will allow you to be more free when moving from note to note. You should be able to see your hands playing the piece in your mind away and at the piano. I hope this help as I have been fixing this as well.

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #6 on: February 21, 2016, 04:00:40 PM
This is where I normally recommend this video: 
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/27507/115504807

 ;D
Yup, you have to pay but it is very little, especially compared to what you get. I have watched this video many, many times and my teacher has praised my progress and playing technique many times lately. She is intrigued how much I have improved and to tell the truth, it is not exactly due to practice 8 hours a day, or extensive work with finger exercises ...
He also have some videos for free at the same site about posture.

Also check YouTube for Taubmann technique and Edna Golinsky. She talks a lot about wrist rolling movements, it is worth a try - I don't think her technique is suitable for everyone, but it is very good for some.
You will be surprised what impact "detail work" can have. Far too many of us believe piano playing is about whacking our way through tons of pieces, the faster the better, then add countless hours of playing scales and Hanon or whatever you think is good, to and fro, up and down, like an athlete doing his daily workout. But technical exercises do not have to be about playing fast, faster, fastest all the time, like a sewing machine, pretending you are good because you are doing something DIFFICULT. 

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #7 on: February 21, 2016, 05:21:26 PM
It would be worth reading some Wilhelm Reich on armouring to get the bigger picture.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline mjames

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Re: Wrists Too Stiff
Reply #8 on: February 21, 2016, 05:31:39 PM
approach piano playing the way you approach masturbation; the relaxation will come in naturally.


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