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Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos (Read 1627 times)

Offline ggpianogg

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Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
« on: December 27, 2019, 03:25:13 PM »
Hi,

I'm learning Beethoven's Pathetique (1st movement). It's the first time I'm exposed to fairly fast octave tremolos.

I play the tremolo with a combination of wrist rotation and a bit of finger action (probably 75% rotation + 25% fingers). However, after 5-6 seconds of playing, I start developing fatigue in my triceps, and by 10 seconds the fatigue is significant enough that I lose evenness and volume control. No pain - just fatigue.

I don't feel fatigue or tension in my forearm, and my 2-3-4 fingers are relaxed, as far as I can tell. I don't currently have a teacher (can't afford one), so asking for help here.

Is the triceps fatigue an indicator of bad technique, or do I simply need to keep practicing until I develop "stamina" for the motion?

Thank you

Online dogperson

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #1 on: December 28, 2019, 01:44:33 PM »
Hi,

I'm learning Beethoven's Pathetique (1st movement). It's the first time I'm exposed to fairly fast octave tremolos.

I play the tremolo with a combination of wrist rotation and a bit of finger action (probably 75% rotation + 25% fingers). However, after 5-6 seconds of playing, I start developing fatigue in my triceps, and by 10 seconds the fatigue is significant enough that I lose evenness and volume control. No pain - just fatigue.

I don't feel fatigue or tension in my forearm, and my 2-3-4 fingers are relaxed, as far as I can tell. I don't currently have a teacher (can't afford one), so asking for help here.

Is the triceps fatigue an indicator of bad technique, or do I simply need to keep practicing until I develop "stamina" for the motion?

Thank you


I was hopeful that s better pianist/teacher would answer your question. ...
but Since there was not another response, here’s mine. You should not be having fatigue  after 5 to 6 seconds of playing a tremolo. The advice I can offer  is to really work on rotation as this is the driving force, not the fingers.

You may find this Josh Wright tutorial helpful where he uses the same score to discuss the technique
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PSZF2WKmdNQ

Offline j_tour

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #2 on: December 29, 2019, 02:17:32 AM »


I was hopeful that s better pianist/teacher would answer your question. ...

No such luck with that, but I can offer just anecdotes.  I'm sure like many people here I played this sonata in younger years, and continue to use the basic technique of staggered octaves in either hand daily.

Triceps?  Really? 

That probably speaks to how indvidual a person's response to a movement might be.  I get hit with problems in the forearms when doing stuff like that for more than ten minutes at a time.

Clearly, the technique needs correction.  [ETA I guess I was thinking about the repeated notes/chords in rock/blues and so forth, which does still hurt me physically, although I do it very often, and not the tremolo or staggered octave walking bass.  So, my comments may not be strictly on-point, but the basic point remains that plenty of people, including me, can use fast octave tremolos in either hand, although probably not comfortably for several hours.]

Unfortunately, I've found for myself there's no real solution (except the obvious ones, about adjusting posture, which of course affects the geometry of the arms relative to the keyboard, and o forth), but I can offer the consolation that, no, it does not get easier with practice, and it's always going to be tiring. 

I think there's a good reason rock and roll players are often drenched in sweat, and not just because of the lights on stage or the heat of a room.

But the Beethoven first movement can be fixed such that you can make it through more than a few seconds at a time.
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Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #3 on: December 29, 2019, 02:23:44 AM »
ggpianogg... A couple of tips from someone who learnt this the wrong way... but realised what was doing and now does it the right way.

1) Start doing tremolos really slowly, so much so there is NO strain. When you feel you can do this for 15 seconds, EVER so slightly increase the tempo, while thinking about:

a) Are you using the least amount of movement (ever so small rotation, but don't tense your wrist or lock the fingers)

b) Play the tremolo notes very softly. If I'm not mistaken, the passage starts tremolo, so the RH should be piano... the LH should be MUCH softer than piano.

c) Make sure you are also not tensing your hand when/before you change the notes in the tremolo.

Sadly enough, the main key is to relax your hand and not force the tremolo speed. It will come but you have to start slow at first.


Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #4 on: December 29, 2019, 03:21:52 AM »
Lightness of the thumb is very important, if you crack that it makes the tremolo much easier.
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Offline ggpianogg

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #5 on: December 29, 2019, 02:14:50 PM »
Thanks everyone. I will give all these recommendations a try and see what comes out of it.

Offline ggpianogg

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #6 on: December 30, 2019, 05:41:32 PM »
Quick question: can the wrist rotate on its own without the whole forearm rotating? I seem to be incapable of doing so. The slightest wrist rotation seems to initiate forearm rotation for me.

Online dogperson

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #7 on: December 30, 2019, 06:02:35 PM »
Quick question: can the wrist rotate on its own without the whole forearm rotating? I seem to be incapable of doing so. The slightest wrist rotation seems to initiate forearm rotation for me.


You want to use firearm rotation.
I would suggest that you watch the tutorial by Josh Wright

Offline ranjit

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #8 on: December 30, 2019, 06:11:53 PM »
You want to use firearm rotation.
Nice technique, will practice tomorrow ;D
Firearm rotation and thrills

Offline ggpianogg

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #9 on: December 30, 2019, 06:33:03 PM »


You want to use firearm rotation.
I would suggest that you watch the tutorial by Josh Wright

I did watch it (even before I started this thread), but for some reason it's not helping. As far as I can tell I'm doing things exactly as he describes, though I can't be sure since his sleeve is covering his arm so I'm not sure if I'm getting the motion exactly right.

I also watched this movie:


It seems like his wrist rotates on its own and the forearm is fixed in place, which seems to be anatomically impossible for me.

Online dogperson

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #10 on: December 30, 2019, 07:13:40 PM »
The arm and wrist move as one movement.  The wrist is not a separate movement independent of the arm. Minimize finger movement by keeping the fingers close to the keys

Give that a shot😊. Once you have it, you’ll have it!!!


Offline brogers70

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #11 on: December 30, 2019, 09:28:29 PM »
For what it's worth, in addition to everything else that's been suggested, my teacher had me raise my elbow so that the arm is pointing a bit downward towards the keys, rather than being in the usual more horizontal position. Playing around with that did help make tremolo seem less tiring for me.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #12 on: January 01, 2020, 10:46:03 AM »
The first time I read this thread I was thinking of bench height and the angle of the arm.
Since I am a body builder and not a pianist and actually look for ways of tiring my triceps, I thought it wise to remain silent.
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Offline ahinton

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Re: Triceps fatigue while playing left-hand tremolos
«Reply #13 on: January 01, 2020, 01:47:57 PM »
The first time I read this thread I was thinking of bench height and the angle of the arm.
Since I am a body builder and not a pianist and actually look for ways of tiring my triceps, I thought it wise to remain silent.
That decision seems not to apply to your observations about microwave radiation hiss or about Sorabji, those who perform his works and those who record them; ah, well...

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