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Topic: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT  (Read 5906 times)

Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #50 on: July 08, 2016, 12:14:23 PM
So much wrong information in this thread!

No, not even pieces with lots of chords (military polonaise) or sixteenth notes (ocean etude) should make you fatigued! Fatigue is the result of wrong technique.

A pianist with healthy technique can play all the Chopin Etudes in a row without getting fatigued.

It is true that there will be some muscular development associated with playing piano, especially in the hands, but the fatigue that most people get in the forearm comes from static tension in the extensors and muscles governing the wrist, and is COMPELTELY avoidable by using the correct movements and not being stiff in the wrist.

It's about TECHNIQUE, not stamina.

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #51 on: July 08, 2016, 12:44:16 PM
So much wrong information in this thread!

No, not even pieces with lots of chords (military polonaise) or sixteenth notes (ocean etude) should make you fatigued! Fatigue is the result of wrong technique.

A pianist with healthy technique can play all the Chopin Etudes in a row without getting fatigued.

It is true that there will be some muscular development associated with playing piano, especially in the hands, but the fatigue that most people get in the forearm comes from static tension in the extensors and muscles governing the wrist, and is COMPELTELY avoidable by using the correct movements and not being stiff in the wrist.

It's about TECHNIQUE, not stamina.

I think the issue is that people keep conflating strength and conditioning with motor skill, both involve physiological adaptations, but they are NOT the same.  Having said that, people due to modern lifestyle and lack of physical awareness tend to have structural imbalances that can inhibit the full playing mechanism from working correctly. 

 

Offline piano6888

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #52 on: July 08, 2016, 10:12:03 PM
Well this is a given even doctors say the same, but pianistically I don't think it is such a big deal unless your playing causes you injury (and I've found those that injure themselves usually are thinking too much about mechanique rather than not and often practice poorly).
The % are in actions at different rates with different people. An early beginner might indeed consider 90% physical and 10% mental! If you are isolating mental activity to physical there is a problem imho. They work together not separate if you want efficient progress. In any case if I find a student is considering their physical movements way too much I will make them stop, one should play not totally correct and clear their mind from all these preconceptions, they interfere more often than help. If I get a student to consider their technique under a microscope we take the musical context (actual sheet music and specific bar I believe their technique is failing in) and focus on that issue with the musical context at hand. We do not isolate the technique into a purely mechanical/physical consideration separate from musical context or mental thought.

Yes, one should consider the musical context or mental thought that is going on with the technique, and the technique still depends on the physical state of the body at the moment (injured, fatigued, tired, not developed enough, etc.). I'm not saying that both should be isolated, they should be together but neither one is 90-10 or 10-90, it is more or less around 40-60 or 60-40.  


It is true that there will be some muscular development associated with playing piano, especially in the hands, but the fatigue that most people get in the forearm comes from static tension in the extensors and muscles governing the wrist, and is COMPELTELY avoidable by using the correct movements and not being stiff in the wrist.

It's about TECHNIQUE, not stamina.

So in a sense, this agrees with my original premise since piano playing also involves the physical body. Could you try playing the piano without any hands, fingers, or your body in general, and to the level of a successful concert pianist (whom is able bodied)?  I don't think so.

Also, try playing the piano when your arms are fatigued, not from bad piano playing but from other strenuous physical activity such as working out, labor, or even sports.  It just doesn't work well, so don't even try to tell me that if your mind says GO! that your body will just follow suit, because it won't. (Of course, one wouldn't be foolish to play the piano when one's body is saying I need rest, but that was just a point I made to support my premise.)
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Offline 109natsu

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #53 on: July 09, 2016, 12:04:14 AM
Hi. I am new.

I don't know what to do, so I guess I will start in a random thread.
 :)

I think it is very true that you can get fatigued by playing piano. My teacher says that I shouldn't be practicing no more than five hours a day unless really necessary, because overpracticing can break your body. I am still a young pianist, so I should be careful not to break my body.

Frederic Chiu, in his presentation of the Deeper Piano Studies at Indiana University last year, said that there are three aspects to piano playing; the physical, the mental, and the emotional, and that these aspects should be equally considered.
Whether you are playing Rach 2 or Minuet in G, you still are using all three of these aspects in some way. I agree, once again, that you can break your body from overplaying. But from a Chopin Etude??? There must be something wrong with your playing.
 
For example, sit up straight.
Now relax your shoulders.

Did you move your belly? Well, that isn't your shoulder. You have to know your body, and play in the most comfortable style for YOU. Are you hunching? Locking your arms? Sitting too high? For example, when I was playing Ocean, it took me a while for me to use my arm, and that is totally okay.

It is natural for people to get tired by playing the piano, but what I am saying is, you shouldn't be destroying your body by the time you finish the Moonlight Sonata. You can videotape yourself playing, and fix your posture.

But I think the discussion here is very interesting, and I am starting to like the forum on my first post :)

*-*

Natsu Ozawa
Bloomington, IN

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #54 on: July 09, 2016, 02:56:36 AM
Yes, one should consider the musical context or mental thought that is going on with the technique, and the technique still depends on the physical state of the body at the moment (injured, fatigued, tired, not developed enough, etc.). I'm not saying that both should be isolated, they should be together but neither one is 90-10 or 10-90, it is more or less around 40-60 or 60-40.  
If they are not isolated how can you come up with % of them in action? And with the huge variation of students and mind types you absolutely cannot say 10:90 is not in action since it most probably is if you have a student who is overly caught up on mechanique (and almost always these students are missing the context and bigger picture of their technique as a whole). Technique doesn't wholly depend on the physical state of the body, Liszt said "fingering is technique" so indeed knowing fingering solutions reveals your technical capacity as well. You will see threads on here which ask specific fingering questions you have all these big mouths shut up because they have no idea, as if their technique is parrot like and they have no idea about fingering logic and thus understanding of technique, they shake their puny fists at problems which cannot be solved with force diagrams and long winded technical descriptions in words.
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Offline piano6888

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #55 on: July 09, 2016, 03:34:45 AM
Hi. I am new.

I don't know what to do, so I guess I will start in a random thread.
 :)

I think it is very true that you can get fatigued by playing piano. My teacher says that I shouldn't be practicing no more than five hours a day unless really necessary, because overpracticing can break your body. I am still a young pianist, so I should be careful not to break my body.

Frederic Chiu, in his presentation of the Deeper Piano Studies at Indiana University last year, said that there are three aspects to piano playing; the physical, the mental, and the emotional, and that these aspects should be equally considered.
Whether you are playing Rach 2 or Minuet in G, you still are using all three of these aspects in some way. I agree, once again, that you can break your body from overplaying. But from a Chopin Etude??? There must be something wrong with your playing.
 
For example, sit up straight.
Now relax your shoulders.

Did you move your belly? Well, that isn't your shoulder. You have to know your body, and play in the most comfortable style for YOU. Are you hunching? Locking your arms? Sitting too high? For example, when I was playing Ocean, it took me a while for me to use my arm, and that is totally okay.

It is natural for people to get tired by playing the piano, but what I am saying is, you shouldn't be destroying your body by the time you finish the Moonlight Sonata. You can videotape yourself playing, and fix your posture.

But I think the discussion here is very interesting, and I am starting to like the forum on my first post :)

*-*

Natsu Ozawa
Bloomington, IN

Frederic Chiu would be in agreeance with me, though I would probably lump the emotional and mental aspect into the same category. Anyways, he did mention the physical aspect of piano playing which is in line with my beliefs and experiences when I sit down at the piano. 

Yes, you do make a fair point that one should not be fatigued physically by finishing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata or one of Chopin's Etude.  In those cases, yes it would be the utilization of one's technique, and that in itself, is also partially physical along with mental aspects (knowing the technique and being able to execute it well). 

That is awesome that you are starting to like this forum. :)

If they are not isolated how can you come up with % of them in action? And with the huge variation of students and mind types you absolutely cannot say 10:90 is not in action since it most probably is if you have a student who is overly caught up on mechanique (and almost always these students are missing the context and bigger picture of their technique as a whole). Technique doesn't wholly depend on the physical state of the body, Liszt said "fingering is technique" so indeed knowing fingering solutions reveals your technical capacity as well. You will see threads on here which ask specific fingering questions you have all these big mouths shut up because they have no idea, as if their technique is parrot like and they have no idea about fingering logic and thus understanding of technique, they shake their puny fists at problems which cannot be solved with force diagrams and long winded technical descriptions in words.

Yes when having the right technique is key to using the body physically well and economically, a battered body would be of no good even with the right techniques.  I don't believe I said that technique is wholly dependent on the physical state of the body, but certain techniques will NOT work if the body is not in a fine physical state (fatigued, injured, or otherwise compromised). 
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Offline pianoplayer002

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #56 on: July 09, 2016, 11:21:56 AM
So in a sense, this agrees with my original premise since piano playing also involves the physical body. Could you try playing the piano without any hands, fingers, or your body in general, and to the level of a successful concert pianist (whom is able bodied)?  I don't think so.

Also, try playing the piano when your arms are fatigued, not from bad piano playing but from other strenuous physical activity such as working out, labor, or even sports.  It just doesn't work well, so don't even try to tell me that if your mind says GO! that your body will just follow suit, because it won't. (Of course, one wouldn't be foolish to play the piano when one's body is saying I need rest, but that was just a point I made to support my premise.)

But isn't this obvious? If somebody drove an iron pole through my heart it would impair my piano playing because I would be DEAD and thus my ability to use my body would be limited. Of course our body must be in a good condition in order for us to play at our best.

The kind of thinking that I'm trying to dispel is the one that goes:

"Well, I tried playing the Ocean Etude and I got tired in my arms. That means I don't have enough STAMINA to pull this piece off yet. It's like running right? Today I can only run 4 kilometers before getting exhausted but if I keep pushing against that limit then I'll soon be able to run 8 km! Well, I'll play it through 20 more times until I'm TOTALLY fatigued. Then, surely, I will BUILD MORE STAMINA and soon enough I'll be able to pull off this etude no problem!"

NOOOOO! No no NO no NONO no NO! It's this kind of thinking that sets you up for years of frustration, pain, injury, or worse. When you retrain your movements to be more efficient instead of just concluding that you must lack stamina and continue brute forcing yourself through the piece, you can sometimes see more improvement in the space of a week than you'd ever see by trying to "build stamina".

So in short, if you have just participated in the weightlifting olympics and your muscles are trembling from exhaustion it's natural that they wouldn't work so well when playing the piano. But if you are sitting down by the piano and practising some Chopin etudes your muscles shouldn't feel worse than when you started. (In fact, if you muscles are a bit rusty when you start, it's actually possible to make them feel better, rejuvenated, after some mindful practise)

The mental aspect of piano playing refers to knowing the correct movements and practising mindfully. Without the mindful aspect you might end up like the Ocean Etude guy I invented above who thinks that if you just drill the notes enough times then surely everything will work out, or that muscular fatigue is a natural consequence of playing difficult pieces.

Offline piano6888

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #57 on: July 09, 2016, 04:04:36 PM
But isn't this obvious? If somebody drove an iron pole through my heart it would impair my piano playing because I would be DEAD and thus my ability to use my body would be limited. Of course our body must be in a good condition in order for us to play at our best.

The kind of thinking that I'm trying to dispel is the one that goes:

"Well, I tried playing the Ocean Etude and I got tired in my arms. That means I don't have enough STAMINA to pull this piece off yet. It's like running right? Today I can only run 4 kilometers before getting exhausted but if I keep pushing against that limit then I'll soon be able to run 8 km! Well, I'll play it through 20 more times until I'm TOTALLY fatigued. Then, surely, I will BUILD MORE STAMINA and soon enough I'll be able to pull off this etude no problem!"

NOOOOO! No no NO no NONO no NO! It's this kind of thinking that sets you up for years of frustration, pain, injury, or worse. When you retrain your movements to be more efficient instead of just concluding that you must lack stamina and continue brute forcing yourself through the piece, you can sometimes see more improvement in the space of a week than you'd ever see by trying to "build stamina".

So in short, if you have just participated in the weightlifting olympics and your muscles are trembling from exhaustion it's natural that they wouldn't work so well when playing the piano. But if you are sitting down by the piano and practising some Chopin etudes your muscles shouldn't feel worse than when you started. (In fact, if you muscles are a bit rusty when you start, it's actually possible to make them feel better, rejuvenated, after some mindful practise)

The mental aspect of piano playing refers to knowing the correct movements and practising mindfully. Without the mindful aspect you might end up like the Ocean Etude guy I invented above who thinks that if you just drill the notes enough times then surely everything will work out, or that muscular fatigue is a natural consequence of playing difficult pieces.

Of course, having the right technique is necessary on top of having a healthy body, a body in good condition.  So the physical state of the body (good condition, healthy, not tired, etc.) is important as well as right mindset, correct technique, and understanding of the music that one is playing.  Remember, I never excluded the other components of piano playing such as mental awareness, emotional awareness, technique, and others; I simply want to emphasize that one simply cannot ignore the physical component of piano playing nor should they minimize it.  Most oftenly, people don't seem to recognize that piano playing is also partly physical and they mostly (if not all the time) focus on the mental aspect and brush off any other important components.
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Offline anamnesis

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #58 on: July 09, 2016, 04:34:12 PM
Of course, having the right technique is necessary on top of having a healthy body, a body in good condition.  So the physical state of the body (good condition, healthy, not tired, etc.) is important as well as right mindset, correct technique, and understanding of the music that one is playing.  Remember, I never excluded the other components of piano playing such as mental awareness, emotional awareness, technique, and others; I simply want to emphasize that one simply cannot ignore the physical component of piano playing nor should they minimize it.  Most oftenly, people don't seem to recognize that piano playing is also partly physical and they mostly (if not all the time) focus on the mental aspect and brush off any other important components.

It's your last point that confuses me.  It's a given that any human activity from the mundane to th sublime suffers in performance if your basic physical state is compromised.  I don't know anyone who argues against that because it's a basic fact of human existence, and it does not merely apply to the piano. 

Offline piano6888

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #59 on: July 09, 2016, 07:13:16 PM
That is true, any compromise to the physical state of the body will hamper the performance of the artist. (Well this applies to sports and other activities as well too, but mostly just focusing on the piano.) I know people who argue against it are those who used "special" cases to argue that anything is possible and that if (insert person name) did it, then you can do it as well. That is not the case and therefore, one cannot make that generalization and apply that to every (most) cases. Everyone is different and the level of compromise to the physical along with other factors will greatly alter the result.
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Offline 109natsu

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Re: Physical aspect of piano playing is also IMPORTANT
Reply #60 on: July 09, 2016, 07:29:51 PM
Quote
Frederic Chiu would be in agreeance with me, though I would probably lump the emotional and mental aspect into the same category. Anyways, he did mention the physical aspect of piano playing which is in line with my beliefs and experiences when I sit down at the piano. 

Yes, you do make a fair point that one should not be fatigued physically by finishing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata or one of Chopin's Etude.  In those cases, yes it would be the utilization of one's technique, and that in itself, is also partially physical along with mental aspects (knowing the technique and being able to execute it well). 

That is awesome that you are starting to like this forum. :)

I don't want to get off topic, but the mental aspect is in the brain. The emotional aspect is in the heart :)

It's good that I like this forum :)

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Let's sum it up, I don't think there is a point in arguing more.

Piano playing requires both physical and mental (and emotional, never give up) aspects. Those are equally important. To be able to play physically, you have to have both the technique and the physical health at once. (that's not lifting 400kg weight)
That is true, any compromise to the physical state of the body will hamper the performance of the artist. (Well this applies to sports and other activities as well too, but mostly just focusing on the piano.) I know people who argue against it are those who used "special" cases to argue that anything is possible and that if (insert person name) did it, then you can do it as well. That is not the case and therefore, one cannot make that generalization and apply that to every (most) cases. Everyone is different and the level of compromise to the physical along with other factors will greatly alter the result.
I agree.

*-*

Natsu Ozawa
Bloomington, IN
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