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Author Topic: The importance of finger dexterity and the implementation of daily exercises  (Read 686 times)
wkmt
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« on: June 04, 2017, 04:08:20 PM »

Nicolae Mihaila, #pianoteacher at #WKMT, shares his thoughts about the importance of finger dexterity exercises.

Finger exercises are of paramount importance in order to keep our technical dimension up to the task. In his last article, Nicolae Mihaila shares with us some tips on how to improve our technique and piano routine.

http://www.piano-composer-teacher-london.co.uk/single-post/2017/06/03/Importance-of-Finger-Exercises

Leave your comments, questions will be answers.

www.wkmt.co.uk
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keypeg
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« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2017, 05:00:06 PM »

It would be good at this point for you to spend a fair amount of time reading the threads and taking time to understand the thoughts and experiences of your peers and pianists and students.  First, it would be a waste of time to try to summarize what has been written about "finger exercises" and playing mechanisms, when it's there for you to read.  Secondly, you really should catch up to the ideas and thoughts and that can't be done through any summary.  Given the whole of it, the article does not give a good impression (imho) at least within the forum, when so much more thought has been given beyond fingers and finger exercises.  Have a search for finger exercises, and also Hanon. Wink

The video accompanying the article has nothing to do with the article itself.  It just shows the writer performing.  But that playing DOES illustrate other elements which are left out when discussing "finger exercises".  You see the player moving his body left to right in good balance shifting weight on the sit bones: you see movement in the arms and the whole arm mechanism, and the various motions that the hand makes at the wrist, etc.

The problem with "finger exercises", especially Hanon, is that people tend to use only their fingers, focus on the fingers, thereby keeping the rest rigid (wrist, arms etc.), playing "with the fingers".  It is a serious problem, and there are discussions on injuries because of it.  I urge you to catch up to the forum as a whole.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 12:52:19 PM »

Quote
Finger exercises are of paramount importance in order to keep our technical dimension up to the task. In his last article, Nicolae Mihaila shares with us some tips on how to improve our technique and piano routine.

Can you support that bold assertion?

I don't think so. 

For most of us finger dexterity is the last thing limiting our performance. 
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Tim
wkmt
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 06:00:38 PM »

I find your observation unbelievable taking into account we use our fingers to play Smiley
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ted
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 09:57:25 PM »

As usual, I shall not hesitate to grasp the nettle, to embrace the minority view, not in order to be iconoclastic, but because I know what works for me. Even more unfashionable than finger exercises at the instrument, I have used a silent Virgil Practice Clavier almost every day for fifty years. People can argue against it all they like, but as a ferocious improviser at seventy I can play anything I want to, and the reason is daily attention to finger technique on the clavier. I don't use it stupidly, only for about ten minutes night and morning, and once at the piano I do little but create music. I also invent my own finger exercises at the clavier, usually new ones each day which are likely to provide improvisational vocabulary.

I am probably as highly individual as the music I like to create; I have had no formal tuition for fifty years and do not mix with musicians. I do not claim that my way is right for other people. However, I can say with absolute certainty that maintenance of finger dexterity and daily exercises using my Virgil Practice Clavier have kept my technique fresh into my old age.



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"It's a caution, grandson !"  -  My grandmother's reaction to almost any issue of the day.
keypeg
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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 10:49:47 PM »

I find your observation unbelievable taking into account we use our fingers to play Smiley
Have you taken the time to read posts on various related topics in this forum, as I suggested?  The only way that I could see you finding this "unbelievable" is if you had not done that research yet.  I would not expect to see such a response from someone who teaches or runs a school - because one would expect an constant act of staying informed.  Nor are these ideas high-falutin' modern.  The last I saw was by Claudio Arrau, and prior to that, a gentleman by the name of Chopin.
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timothy42b
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 03:43:45 PM »

Focusing on dexterity is somewhat like a student trumpet player who only wants to play high notes.

Yes, you have to learn them someday, but they are a tiny part of the skill set, and not the part that limits a beginner or intermediate. 

For the beginner, keyboard geography and coordination are the hard parts on piano.  It will be years before they have a challenge in dexterity.  They will work on it along the way, but it won't be an impediment until they get into advanced literature. 
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Tim
anamnesis
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 04:48:17 PM »

Focusing on dexterity is somewhat like a student trumpet player who only wants to play high notes.

Yes, you have to learn them someday, but they are a tiny part of the skill set, and not the part that limits a beginner or intermediate.  

For the beginner, keyboard geography and coordination are the hard parts on piano.  It will be years before they have a challenge in dexterity.  They will work on it along the way, but it won't be an impediment until they get into advanced literature.  

And even that position can still somewhat be considered lip-service to traditionalists, who don't want to actually think things through.  The nature of the instrument and how we interact with is actually ballistic, which implies a completely different sort of conception of what we have to do.

For example, if you are in the habit of practicing a segment of notes, and end articulating a note without it being sent on top of the next (at the perfect spot and height so you have full control of leverage), you are practicing the entirely wrong timing.  

There's also fundamentally a difference between the speed and timing of what happens between notes (essentially the horizontal plane on the keyboard but also the 3-dimensional rhythm of the body), and the speed of the articulation of the note (the vertical dimension or pressing of the note).  

Which plane/dimensions involves more "space"? Which requires more motion that has to be refined? The answer to those questions will tell you what ultimately limits us. This component of the coordination involves far more degrees of freedom that has to be "solved/optimized":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrees_of_freedom_problem

There is indeed an interaction between the two, but the precise interaction can't be figured out until you actually can feel the difference and know the timing involved.

The real problem later on is precision and perfect timing that keeps you going forward but "spaced" out such that the fingers always have support, no exceptions.  

----
On a related note, but slightly different tangent....

The timing behind this is also related to errors in musical timing as it can be mapped to physical coordination.  The common clapping tool for rhythm can elude students from the correct sensation of timing because it focuses on the articulation and not the spaces in-between.  (You can do it and sense it correctly, but the people who naturally do it, rarely have problems with rhythm in the first place.)

Walking is slightly better, but mostly because it's far easier to feel the difference between the correct and wrong ways of doing it.  The incorrect way primarily senses the sensation of how the feet hit the floor without any regard for what happens between.  It should feel more stagnant and can have the sensation of being behind, losing momentum, and having to catch up.  Imagine a hill between two valleys.  The sense of articulation feels like a boulder from the first valley that falls back down to the valley and can't climb up the hill on it's destination to the next.  

The correct way can also feel the articulation with the floor but it connects it to the follow-through in-between such that you feel that you actually have full control of spacing things out.   It also has you feel how the body smoothly interacts with gravity at all times during the cycle, whereas in the other way you are not likely to feel it at all.  
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keypeg
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 03:18:14 PM »

Anamnesis - I justed wanted to give this a thumbs up.  Except that icon is missing.  So:

THUMBS UP  Grin
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wkmt
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2017, 11:37:54 AM »

Superlative reply Amnesis. We will quote you back on our website. It is truly helpful! Thank you!
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