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Topic: Sore arm playing octaves  (Read 4353 times)

Offline pianocat3

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Sore arm playing octaves
on: February 20, 2016, 05:43:38 PM
OK I have a lesson wed, but supposed to be working on raindrop prelude, a Chopin piece. The c sharp minor part, lots of that is octaves in the RH, poking some notes periodically in addition to an endlessly repeating octave. The top part of my forearm gets really fatigued, and kiunda cramped, but there really isn't time to relax my hand because the octaves are repeating. An octave is my max stretch (small hands). Ideas? This is a hard piece for me, so I'll have to work it a lot. Thanks for tips! I brought it up before with the teacher, and in that case was not relaxing after hitting the notes. But no opportunity here. For now, I will do 5 minute practices a few times a day on that section, working on other  stuff between so I don't hurt my arm. I do have an injured rotator cuff in that arm that hasn't got better for several months with exercises, if maybe that's a contributing factor for all you experts in piano playing physiology!
Currently working on:

Beethoven Pastoral Sonata (Andante)
Debussy Prelude from Suite Bergamasque
Accompaniment music for cello and piano
Summer project is improvisation

Offline pianocat3

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #1 on: February 20, 2016, 05:48:33 PM
Actually, on the black keys I can do a 9th, not the whites. I notice my hand and wrist are tiring too.
Currently working on:

Beethoven Pastoral Sonata (Andante)
Debussy Prelude from Suite Bergamasque
Accompaniment music for cello and piano
Summer project is improvisation

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #2 on: February 20, 2016, 11:43:56 PM
OK I have a lesson wed, but supposed to be working on raindrop prelude, a Chopin piece. The c sharp minor part, lots of that is octaves in the RH, poking some notes periodically in addition to an endlessly repeating octave. The top part of my forearm gets really fatigued, and kiunda cramped, but there really isn't time to relax my hand because the octaves are repeating. An octave is my max stretch (small hands). Ideas? This is a hard piece for me, so I'll have to work it a lot. Thanks for tips! I brought it up before with the teacher, and in that case was not relaxing after hitting the notes. But no opportunity here. For now, I will do 5 minute practices a few times a day on that section, working on other  stuff between so I don't hurt my arm. I do have an injured rotator cuff in that arm that hasn't got better for several months with exercises, if maybe that's a contributing factor for all you experts in piano playing physiology!
Please contact me by personal message, and I/we can discuss your problem, not issue, and then you can move forward with your development as a pianist.  I, too, have a small hand and wrist, an

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #3 on: February 20, 2016, 11:49:21 PM
OK I have a lesson wed, but supposed to be working on raindrop prelude, a Chopin piece. The c sharp minor part, lots of that is octaves in the RH, poking some notes periodically in addition to an endlessly repeating octave. The top part of my forearm gets really fatigued, and kiunda cramped, but there really isn't time to relax my hand because the octaves are repeating. An octave is my max stretch (small hands). Ideas? This is a hard piece for me, so I'll have to work it a lot. Thanks for tips! I brought it up before with the teacher, and in that case was not relaxing after hitting the notes. But no opportunity here. For now, I will do 5 minute practices a few times a day on that section, working on other  stuff between so I don't hurt my arm. I do have an injured rotator cuff in that arm that hasn't got better for several months with exercises, if maybe that's a contributing factor for all you experts in piano playing physiology!
Please contact me by PM, and then I may possibly solve your problem.  I too have small hands, thin spindly fingers, and correspondingly wrists and hands.

My compliments to you on you having the courage and insight to discuss this publicly because "millions" of other pianists, over the years, have had the same problem.

Offline mjames

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #4 on: February 20, 2016, 11:56:24 PM
Only an 8th?


I will cry for you.

Offline recnepspencer

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #5 on: February 21, 2016, 02:05:45 AM
  Sorry about the small hands, that's gotta be a real struggle!!
The best things you can do for octaves are just to practice them a lot. When I first started octave scales my hands would get really tired, but after plenty of practice it went away. To help make progress more quickly, stretch your fingers away from the piano to increase your finger span. This will help you to be able to relax while you are playing so you won't have to strain your fingers with the stretch.
Recently learned:
Beethoven- sonata 32, op111, I
Chopin- sonata 2, scherzo
Liszt-Etude 4, S.136
Rachmaninoff-Prelude C Sharp Minor
Learning:
Liszt-Transcendeal Etude 2
Chopin-Etude op25 no 11

Offline pianocat3

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #6 on: February 21, 2016, 02:22:55 AM
Well my thumb and pinky stretch out a full 180 Can stretching get me to reach a bit more? My teacher did show me some stretches and I've been delinquent. Mjames, you are funny!!  I will try the stretching, I forgot she told me that. See? Asking here helps!! I fiddled with my wrist position etc and that didn't help.
Currently working on:

Beethoven Pastoral Sonata (Andante)
Debussy Prelude from Suite Bergamasque
Accompaniment music for cello and piano
Summer project is improvisation

Offline anamnesis

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #7 on: February 21, 2016, 02:36:31 AM
Can you dribble a basketball  for the length you have to play the octaves?  The same type of opening and closing of the hands connected with the forearm action transmitted from a rhythmic torso is what you need to do. I don't imagine your hands and forearm would good nearly as "sore" from dribbling despite requiring more effort than the piano keys.

If you can sense when dribbling that you can also make contact with the basketball going "up" and not just when dribbling down torward the ball, you can apply that as well and almost double your playing speed because you are able to produce sound as the forearm is coming up as well and not just on the down swing.  

Offline outin

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #8 on: February 21, 2016, 04:28:14 AM
I think it's best not to overpractice or try to strech and wait for your lesson. Your teacher can hopefully help you. I can hardly manage an octave on my RH but my teacher showed me how to use my whole arm to lessen the strain on my forearms when playing octave passages.

Offline mjames

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #9 on: February 21, 2016, 04:49:42 AM
you can always try this

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #10 on: February 21, 2016, 09:04:08 AM
The dribbling's a great idea.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #11 on: February 21, 2016, 12:20:30 PM
My hands are average female, I can reach an octave without trouble and a 9th if I stretch. There is no way I can reach further. But I remember there was a time when an octave was troublesome too, and my hands were not smaller then ...
There are also sometimes chords that are so arranged that they cause me pain. My solution is to cheat and simplify them and/or just don't practice them very often.

I suggest that you simplify the parts that cause you trouble, play just one half of the octave and omit the other. If you want to play the whole octaves in a performance, then do so, but leave them out in your daily practice. So, this means you have to know two versions of the same piece, basically, but that is not very difficult.
The major point is that if you start to suffer, you will get tense, and the problems will increase rapidly. Piano playing should NOT hurt, and NOT cause you fatigue. Some years ago, when I started playing again after many years in hibernation, I quickly developed pain, sore arms and injuries. I am wiser now, I avoid or re-work what is troublesome and I've learned a technique which is more relaxed and does not make me tired.
Tense muscles will also create a sound which is not very nice to listen at. So, if you spend a lot of time working out a sound which is rich and enjoyable, you will most likely also find this is the EASIEST way to play as well.

So, basically, if your playing cause you pain, you are doing something wrong. Your hands are NOT too small. (But avoid Robert Schumann pieces, ha ha.)

 

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #12 on: February 21, 2016, 11:18:29 PM
This is why I always ask for communication via PM because that way I can tell whether or not the student is serious, or not!  Unfortunately, in most cases it is the latter.

This is sad because this student's problem could be solved very simply.  In that most of you don't have small hands, this is not an affront to you because it is not within the realm of your personal experience.

So sad:  Nothing personal to the OP, but too late now.

Offline outin

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #13 on: February 22, 2016, 05:08:50 AM
"Small hands" can mean so many things that only by seeing the person's hands and how they work can one effectively solve such problems. Both me and my teacher have a small hand span, but our hands are completely different, so while some solutions work for us both, some things we need to do differently. That is why the OP is much better off to let his teacher work with him. Of course sometimes it happens that the teacher doesn't have a ready made answer, but should still be able to help find a solution by experimenting. If the teacher is clueless, then one must take charge and investigate different options, but always be critical when assessing advice.

At times it's better to accept that some repertoire is not worth it. If the only way to play something is to change it, one has to to make a decision whether the essence of music is still there after all the changes.

Offline pianocat3

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #14 on: February 22, 2016, 11:27:13 PM
I tried this and that and it just isn't too comfortable. There is a repeated note that later becomes an octave, and changed to finger 2 to play that and it helped a little.  I'm going to try some more things tonight. The basketball idea didn't really help. There is not a rest break before I have to play the octave again. Dribbling, my hand relaxes. And my hand is not opened so far. I tried my wrist in various positions too. I'll let you know what the teacher says.
Currently working on:

Beethoven Pastoral Sonata (Andante)
Debussy Prelude from Suite Bergamasque
Accompaniment music for cello and piano
Summer project is improvisation

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #15 on: February 24, 2016, 10:19:24 AM
Dribbling, my hand relaxes. And my hand is not opened so far.
Relax the opening between octaves - you'd be surprised how quickly this can be done.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM

Offline pianocat3

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #16 on: February 25, 2016, 02:58:53 AM
Update: so the piano teacher says I am too tense, use arm weight, try doing middle notes with 3rd finger because it's not the same tendon as the pinky. She said imagine a balloon holding your wrist up. Good luck to me if I remembered all that info good enough to do it although I practiced it in front of her.  I think I have seen such discussions here before. I think she had this discussion with me before, but you know, I never get it the first time!
Currently working on:

Beethoven Pastoral Sonata (Andante)
Debussy Prelude from Suite Bergamasque
Accompaniment music for cello and piano
Summer project is improvisation

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Sore arm playing octaves
Reply #17 on: February 25, 2016, 09:04:40 PM
Do this as a start: allow your hand to hang from your wrist.  If you are doing this there should be a right angle.  Drop onto the keys stiffening at the moment of contact but then instantly relaxing until your wrist and arm are level.  Easily said.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM
 

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