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Would a person with poor motor skills have a chance to become a good pianist? (Read 814 times)

Offline claireliii

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I have been thinking about what are the necessary qualities there are to become a concert pianist. I know it is important for her/him to have good sense of melody and tune, and really high intelligence level, good inspiration etc. I was just wondering if a person has all of that except for he/she is born with very poor fine/gross motor skills. This person is so bad at any kind of sports:tennis, ping pang, dance(that she has trouble catching the balls and remembering the dance movements)
on the piano, this pianist is very musical, but with technically challenging part he/she always messes up.
let's say he/she loves music very much and still practices diligently.
does he/she still have a chance to become a highly established pianist?


Offline j_tour

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on the piano, this pianist is very musical, but with technically challenging part he/she always messes up.
let's say he/she loves music very much and still practices diligently.
does he/she still have a chance to become a highly established pianist?

That's an interesting question.  I'd like to know more about the condition, however.

Of course there have been any number of pianists who lack an entire arm, or those who are missing several fingers due to diseases like polio, who were rather proficient and acclaimed.

My inclination is to suggest that reflexes and physical motions can, within some limits, be very much improved by repetition.  My citation?  The movie Return to the 36th Chamber and other kung-fu movies.

However, there may be some medical conditions that impede such development, about which I wouldn't know.

There are variations on the standard "piano keyboard" instrument, though, that might be adopted if more comfortable.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline nw746

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I will say that I have always had terrible motor skills (fine & gross)—e.g. can't write with a pen or pencil for more than a few minutes without pain, could never play any sports, have very slow reaction time, definitely can't dance and frequently walk into various objects etc—but having played piano intermittently for ~20 years, I have managed to develop roughly the motor skills of an ABRSM grade 6 student. If I'd studied intensively and regularly instead of occasionally, I would potentially be able to play at a university or higher level now. I will say though that the motor skills are non-transferrable. I can more or less play a Beethoven sonata but my handwriting skills are just as terrible as they always were. If you want to also be able to dance, you have to train in that as well, and just as intensively.

(Motor skills, like all other skills, are learned, and therefore learnable. No one comes out of the womb with the ability to play the piano. But obviously some people find motor skills much easier to learn than others.)

Offline dogperson

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I have pre-school motor skills for sports but have never had motor skill issues playing musical instruments:  piano, organ and cello. And yes, at one point back in the dark ages, I tried to improve the sports motor skills to no avail.

Offline tickandtock

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I have very poor motor skills myself and can attest to others saying that their motor skills gained from learning piano are non transferrable. For me, my hands are very inflexible (large webbing in-between), shake a lot and are tremendously weak. I can play piano decently, but others including beginners progress a lot faster than me. This has brought me to the conclusion that some have better fine motor skills than others. I think it also points out why some people think doing exercises is pointless. Anyone who is gifted with great fingers might be more inclined to argue that doing Hanon and Czerny and Liszt exercises is a waste of time. I myself simply can't gain the strength and flexibility necessary to play the piano by playing hundreds of pieces. So my answer to you would obviously be that I think there are genetic differences in our hands that contribute to strength and coordination. Anyone can play piano, but indeed it seems it will be easier for some than others.

Offline j_tour

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Yeah:  not to mention that there's about a million different techniques required for various pieces.

Since I'm not a student (well, I suppose to be honest, I'm always a student:  every artist is, if they admit it or not), nor do I teach younger children, I kind of am dismissive of the "graded" pieces (whether by ABRSM, or the Henle system) as a complete representation of what's required:  the techniques required are just too variable to be useful, except perhaps at a very rough level of granularity.  If that.  And I include memorizing and sight-reading among techniques needed, which I don't believe are captured by the systems of grading.  Not that I'm aware of in any consistent sense.

but my handwriting skills are just as terrible as they always were. If you want to also be able to dance, you have to train in that as well, and just as intensively.

I like that insight quite a bit:  maybe if someone has eidetic memory or whatever, but I'd be lost without having developed good handwriting, you know, pencil and staff paper.  Invaluable to me, at least, and I suspect the skill can save a bunch of time and effort.

Not to leave out people who use engraving software:  I'm just a pencil and paper nerd, but I don't think it matters which tools one uses.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.