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Topic: Tensed pinky that curls in too much  (Read 4050 times)

Offline shanlye

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Tensed pinky that curls in too much
on: June 20, 2016, 07:21:23 PM
Hello all  :)

I've been looking up on the various issues on how a tensed pinky can affect a good piano technique. The majority of the suggestions applies to an extended pinky. While there were a few posts about a curled up pinky, I'm not really sure if it applies to how my pinky finger looks like when I'm playing.

Essentially, my issue here is that my pinky finger on my right hand has the tendency to curl in too much, spoiling the image of a curved arch in the palm whenever I'm playing things like scales. I noticed the tendency to curl in even when I'm playing the scales slowly. It's like as though when my first three fingers are doing their work in pressing keys, the pinky will involuntary raise up and curl inward. However, I do not have this issue with my left hand. I noticed though, I am able to raise my fourth finger in my left hand more than that in my right hand.

Attached here is a picture of how my pinky tends to look like:


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8XMMhwfFDxCWjhNU1lhOVhmVW8/

Any help to make my pinky 'less curled up' when playing?
Any inputs will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance! :) :) :)

Offline brogers70

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #1 on: June 20, 2016, 11:52:12 PM
When you say it curls even when you play the scales slowly, how slow is slow? I'd suggest playing one handed scales very, very slowly keeping your fingers in contact with the keys (except, obviously, for the one about to play the next note). Play as slowly as it takes to keep all the fingers, including the pinky as relaxed as possible. If you slow it down enough, you should be able to do it without curling the pinky. Then just do that a few times every day. Gradually increase the speed, but only if you can do so without provoking your pinky to curl up. Over time it will get better.

There are some who say that it just does not matter, but when I worked on eliminating extraneous movements and tension in the pinky, I found that my whole hand felt much more relaxed and fluid. I think it's worth working on.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #2 on: June 21, 2016, 08:36:48 AM
.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #3 on: June 22, 2016, 11:25:29 PM
Hello all  :)

I've been looking up on the various issues on how a tensed pinky can affect a good piano technique. The majority of the suggestions applies to an extended pinky. While there were a few posts about a curled up pinky, I'm not really sure if it applies to how my pinky finger looks like when I'm playing.

Essentially, my issue here is that my pinky finger on my right hand has the tendency to curl in too much, spoiling the image of a curved arch in the palm whenever I'm playing things like scales. I noticed the tendency to curl in even when I'm playing the scales slowly. It's like as though when my first three fingers are doing their work in pressing keys, the pinky will involuntary raise up and curl inward. However, I do not have this issue with my left hand. I noticed though, I am able to raise my fourth finger in my left hand more than that in my right hand.

Attached here is a picture of how my pinky tends to look like:


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8XMMhwfFDxCWjhNU1lhOVhmVW8/

Any help to make my pinky 'less curled up' when playing?
Any inputs will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you in advance! :) :) :)
Per the OP, I post and edited version (which does not address the entire problem associated with the kinesiology associated with proper piano technique):

["From a prior post of mine:

1)  Most piano exercises were written for pure wooden sound board pianofortes which in no way have the same keyboard resistance of a modern grand piano, and

2)  In terms of the problem with your fifth finger, the mechanics involved has to do with the concept of direct keyboard tactile touch.  My major teacher, the late Robert Weaver, taught the following to all of his students:

First:

1)  You sit very quietly at the keyboard, and that includes your breathing and whole body relaxation.  This is important because you are building positive muscle memory from the ground up.

2)  You play a five finger scale in each hand, with super soft staccato.  This is done by striking the key from its surface with a very quick release, and at the same time retaining the same calm dynamic (which includes the 5th finger).

3)   You get it to where you can do this with both hands, depending on your own individual level of dexterity."]

Finally, in terms of curved fingers, I choose not to respond to this here, but I am willing to do so by PM if you so desire.

Once again, thank you for your courageous post.  Millions of pianists have this same problem, but choose for whatever reason to not ask for advice.

Offline shanlye

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #4 on: July 13, 2016, 08:46:21 AM
When you say it curls even when you play the scales slowly, how slow is slow? I'd suggest playing one handed scales very, very slowly keeping your fingers in contact with the keys (except, obviously, for the one about to play the next note). Play as slowly as it takes to keep all the fingers, including the pinky as relaxed as possible. If you slow it down enough, you should be able to do it without curling the pinky. Then just do that a few times every day. Gradually increase the speed, but only if you can do so without provoking your pinky to curl up. Over time it will get better.

There are some who say that it just does not matter, but when I worked on eliminating extraneous movements and tension in the pinky, I found that my whole hand felt much more relaxed and fluid. I think it's worth working on.

Hello brogers70, you're right. I've started on slow practice and I noticed that my pinky does stay more relaxed. It does takes patience though. However, when I go fast in scales, the pinky does tensed up again. Thank you for the advices :)

Offline shanlye

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #5 on: July 13, 2016, 08:50:05 AM
Per the OP, I post and edited version (which does not address the entire problem associated with the kinesiology associated with proper piano technique):

["From a prior post of mine:

1)  Most piano exercises were written for pure wooden sound board pianofortes which in no way have the same keyboard resistance of a modern grand piano, and

2)  In terms of the problem with your fifth finger, the mechanics involved has to do with the concept of direct keyboard tactile touch.  My major teacher, the late Robert Weaver, taught the following to all of his students:

First:

1)  You sit very quietly at the keyboard, and that includes your breathing and whole body relaxation.  This is important because you are building positive muscle memory from the ground up.

2)  You play a five finger scale in each hand, with super soft staccato.  This is done by striking the key from its surface with a very quick release, and at the same time retaining the same calm dynamic (which includes the 5th finger).

3)   You get it to where you can do this with both hands, depending on your own individual level of dexterity."]

Finally, in terms of curved fingers, I choose not to respond to this here, but I am willing to do so by PM if you so desire.

Once again, thank you for your courageous post.  Millions of pianists have this same problem, but choose for whatever reason to not ask for advice.

Hello louispodesta, that's very nice advices regarding a direct keyboard tactile touch. I'll be willing to try those out and see how it goes! Will PM you with regards to the curved fingers :)thank you!

Offline indianajo

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #6 on: July 13, 2016, 12:00:06 PM
Factory ergonomics textbooks suggest factory assembly workers stretch out every morning before work.
One of the exercises involve holding one hand flat, and pushing up with the palm of the other hand until the stretching hand is about 80 degrees up from the plane of the forearm.  This is slow, not kinetic, and no pain should be involved, just stretching of the tendons and finger retractor muscles.
I suggest you look up a factory ergo text in a library and look at the pictures of this exercise.  As the other 4 finger retractors get stretched, the 5th will also. 
I didn't need much stretching as a teenager, but I certainly do now in my sixties.  I'm much creakier now.  
Perhaps this will help.  

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #7 on: July 14, 2016, 01:42:14 AM
I don't know about Indianajo, but I'm both creakier and crankier now than I was a few decades back...

However, on the tensed finger, you've gotten good advice, but I will add one item: don't worry about it too much.  The question isn't what your fingers look like, it is how well you can control them and their touch.  The classic curled finger has much to be said for it -- it's generally easier to get really good control that way -- but it isn't necessarily the only way to go.  I'm not suggesting you ignore the problem, just don't get obsessive about it.
Ian

Offline hfmadopter

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Re: Tensed pinky that curls in too much
Reply #8 on: July 17, 2016, 09:28:15 PM
After ten years or so of piano it won't do that any more. Or you could end up like Horowitz who used to do that intentionally.
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.
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