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Nails problem (Read 429 times)

Offline pdeschen

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Nails problem
« on: June 18, 2020, 02:39:06 AM »
Hi dear pianists,
I know this issue has been raised before, but the threads seem to be outdated.  So I am trying my luck for any pointers or advice for my problem.

On some of my fingers, despite cutting my fingernails very short, in some hand movements my nails get stuck between white keys and black keys (the tiny space bewteen these).  I am 58 now and have had this problem forever.  I even got surgery on one if my fingers, to remove 5 mm of nail and replace the flesh underneath with skin, in the hope of preventing the nail to grow.  It did not work as nature eventually put everything back where it was before the operation.

This situation is seriously preventing me from playing fast passages with fluidity and confidence.  And believe me, this is not a perception problem.  Once the nail get stuck, this is real!

Curious to see if anybody with the same problem found a solution.
Thanks to all!
Philippe

Offline quantum

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #1 on: June 18, 2020, 02:52:51 AM »
Hi and welcome to Pianostreet,

I've encountered this as well, but from my experience the instrument design is suspect not the pianist.  My observations are that it tends to happen over again with the same instrument, and not occur with other instruments.  Key designs where the white keytop or ivory has a sharp edge and tight spacing between the black keys are more likely to cause the problem.  Certain combinations of movements of the white and black keys could cause the nail to get caught in between.  I usually solve the problem by a slight adjustment in the angle and position of my fingers. 

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #2 on: June 18, 2020, 03:32:19 AM »
I know this issue has been raised before.... On some of my fingers, despite cutting my fingernails very short, in some hand movements my nails get stuck between white keys and black keys (the tiny space bewteen these).......I even got surgery on one if my fingers, to remove 5 mm of nail and replace the flesh underneath with skin...... Once the nail get stuck, this is real!
Can you post photo of your hand please. How can it be if you cut your nails so short they still get stuck between notes? You even had surgery for this?? I have never heard this issue being raised here before.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #3 on: June 18, 2020, 04:46:29 AM »
Well, I can't speak for the OP, but it was a problem for me as well.  I think two or maybe more rented pianos I'd had at a few places in the rock and roll days, there was literally blood on the keys.  FTR, trimmed fingernails.

Just too much lateral motion, I guess, in my case.  I fixed it with the awkward combination of having long fingers and needing to play closer to the fallboard for some passages, even in sloppy R&B/rock by just, well, fixing it.

No, for OP, that doesn't sound right. 

Yeah, I think photos is needed, b/c if it can't be fixed by adjustment to technique, and it occurs across multiple keyboards, it's not one of those.
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Offline pdeschen

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #4 on: June 19, 2020, 02:04:17 AM »
Thanks all for you responses.  This was my first post on this forum 😀
Operation: yes, I was young and foolish.  And happen to know a good plastic surgeon.

As you can see in the photographs, even with freshly cut nails, I still need to hit the keys at low angle.  My nails get caught as pictured, especially when my fingertip "slips" on the white key being stopped by the black key, for example when playing arpegios.  At low and moderate speeds, I am able to control exactly where my finger lands.  But when velocity kicks in,  I Have less room and time to move or position my hand to avoid slipping in the void between the white and black keys.  Not sure if that makes sense, but I have yet to find a way to fix this problem.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #5 on: June 23, 2020, 02:36:14 AM »
I see your nail coming past the end of your finger even if its cut that must be annoying for you as a pianist. In your picture where you are playing the A major chord it is your 3rd finger which would get caught, the simplest solution would be to curl the 3rd more so it avoids the region of the black note otherwise you may have to raise the height of your wrist to allow it to curl more easily. Or drip your fingertips in latex before you play, though that would be annoying to have to do all the time haha!
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Offline pdeschen

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #6 on: July 05, 2020, 01:48:16 AM »
Thanks @lostinidlewonder,
Yes showing in the picture is my 3rd finger causing problem in the A major chord.  And yes, this is annoying!
So far I have focused on flattening my finger, so I could maintain contact with my fingertip. I have started trying new things (such as you suggest).  Curling the finger inward even more would mean I have to somehow play the note partly with my nail.  Different approach, but one which would raise my wrist a bit, which is not a bad idea after all.
Thanks again for reading my thread, I appreciate 🙂

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #7 on: July 05, 2020, 12:51:45 PM »
It might help to play organ.

With piano, you can be sloppy and play near the edge of the keys, because if you bump another key without hitting it hard enough it won't play a wrong note.

Organ is totally different.  If you even look at the neighboring key it will play just as loud as you don't want.  So it can teach you to play in the center of the key.

That might not totally fix your problem but it could reduce it maybe. 
Tim

Offline dogperson

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #8 on: July 05, 2020, 01:04:33 PM »
My teacher insists that if the nails are visible at all beyond the finger tip they are too long.  It does create unattractive nails, but it works for me. View your nails from the back of the hand when assessing length; you might be surprised that you see the nail tip.

Offline pdeschen

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #9 on: July 05, 2020, 04:07:34 PM »
@timothy42b,
Interesting considerations. I have never thought of it this way.  But it makes a lot of sense.
While playing piano, however, you put your arms weight on your finger, therefore meticulously planning where you land your finger tip might be difficult (at least for me).  I do not believe you have the same technique with the organ, but I may be totally wrong - please correct me.  I started paying more attention to where on the key I land my fingertip recently.  My technique evolved accordingly.
For example, on Chopin op 10 n1, I had to figure out exactly where to play the keys, especially with arpegios only using white keys.  Intuitively, I would either play some notes landing in between 2 black keys, or slide my finger frome the tip of the key towards the piano, maintaining the key depressed to have best legatissimo.  These situations where when my fingernails would slide into the gap between the white key and the black one.

I am curious to hear from pianists who deliberately figure out exactly where to put the finger tip on the key.

@dogperson
I might be weird, but I have always been impressed by women with short nails.  To me, it meant she was probably a musician, therefore of interest.  But I disgress 😊

Offline quantum

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #10 on: July 06, 2020, 01:54:41 PM »
Actually, timothy42b has a very good point regarding the organ keyboard.  As a pianist, you may not realize how many keys you are actually in contact with.  The music may only require one note to be sounded in a hand, but are you aware of what your other four digits are doing in that time?  When playing the organ, the instrument will unapologetically tell you if your inactive digits are becoming sloppy. 

Silently playing keys is part of piano technique, but it can also become an excuse for inaccurate movements of the hand to go unnoticed. 

Intuitively, I would either play some notes landing in between 2 black keys, or slide my finger frome the tip of the key towards the piano, maintaining the key depressed to have best legatissimo.  These situations where when my fingernails would slide into the gap between the white key and the black one.

Try to play this passage at a slow deliberate tempo and intentionally get your nails stuck.  Be very observant of your playing apparatus. 

Next play the passage at the same tempo and make adjustments so your nails do not become stuck. 

Flip between the two and observe what you did to correct it.  Work to the point where you can make a deliberate decision whether or not to use hand movements that cause your nails to get stuck or not.  With greater awareness of what motions cause your nails to get stuck, you can avoid them. 

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline pdeschen

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Re: Nails problem
«Reply #11 on: August 05, 2020, 09:49:44 PM »
After a few weeks adjusting my technique, I have reached a point of benefits.  Since I have deliberately avoiding hitting the keys with precision for all my life, this is a major change.  Thanks for all your precious advice.  Again, this was much appreciated 😁