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Stamina (Read 675 times)

Offline ivorycherry

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Stamina
« on: January 18, 2021, 10:57:46 PM »
Hello,
So I tend to loose my energy and stamina and after playing a lot of repeated octaves or notes for a while my forearms start to sting and get tired really quickly. For example in Scriabinís Impromptu op 12 no 2 from measures 47 to 62 thereís a lot of octaves played repeatedly in the left hand and my left forearm gets tired fast and starts stinging. Same thing in the Chopin Revolutionary Etude op 10 no 12 throughout the piece I have to stop like twice becases my left hand gets tired from playing the notes so fast(I play it at 132 bpm) and so much. Any tips on preserving stamina or building up the endurance to play like this?

Thanks,
Alex

Offline ted

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #1 on: January 18, 2021, 11:24:00 PM »
As a highly unorthodox, relatively untrained player I should probably not reply, but I shall briefly do so anyway because I injured myself once and wouldn't wish it on anybody. The cultivation of piano playing as a competitive, athletic pursuit, an obstacle course requiring stamina and endurance, is bad for mind, body and music. If some particular movement is causing pain, weakness or discomfort then search for another way of playing it which gives a musical result but does not do these things. Often the answer is quite simple and just requires more thought and less brute force. I shall let the others answer concerning those specific pieces.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline nw746

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #2 on: January 19, 2021, 01:18:09 AM »
What I always heard is that if your way of playing a piece causes any pain or discomfort whatsoever, even momentarily, even in very hard pieces, you are playing wrong. Usually pain and discomfort are a result of too much tension in the body, and you have to work on playing everything in as relaxed a manner as possible. Try to figure out the source of the pain or discomfortói.e. is it happening in the fingers, the palm, the wrist, the arm, etc, and then work out what you're doing with that part of the body that could be causing the pain, and how you could move differently in order to avoid that.

At very least that's the answer I got from one former piano teacher when I was trying to practice both versions of Chopin's Op. 10 no. 2. I gave up instead, though. Practicing body awareness isn't really worth it when you have a body you'd rather not have.

Online ranjit

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #3 on: January 19, 2021, 02:54:55 AM »
I'm clearly less qualified than Ted to speak on the matter, but I thought I'd still share my observations. I worked on the Revolutionary Etude and went through about half of it at a relatively slow tempo and then kept it aside. However, it never caused me issues.

It's been my experience that the 'right' technique is nearly always effortless. There's a certain way in which I've found we tend to push tempo, which feels like "tripping over oneself". It's like you're walking very fast and it's making you unstable. I've found that it's not helpful in most cases to do that. You need to try and figure out a way to ground yourself (forgive me for the abstract metaphors). For speed, it makes sense that you want as little muscular effort as possible because the big muscle groups are slow. You want to be floating over the keys in some sense. It's been my experience that the wrist often needs to be a bit higher while playing fast. For that, it might be a good idea to start with a high wrist and then bring it down to an appropriate level. As far as I can tell, the forearm usually gets stressed when the wrist is lower rather than higher. You can have good posture, but psychological tension can still make you tense up -- which is something you want to avoid.

One thing which I've found useful is to simply imagine the notes you want to produce at the right tempo in your head for a while, and then try and reproduce it.

Offline brogers70

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #4 on: January 19, 2021, 12:14:45 PM »
When I was a teenager I learned how to use chopsticks. At first it was a struggle. Not only did I keep dropping bits of food, but my hands would cramp up and get tired after just a few bites. Now I could sit and pick peanuts out of a bowl with chopsticks for hours on end. It's not that my hands got stronger or developed better stamina; it's just that I learned how to relax all the muscles I didn't need to use, and to use the ones I did need as lightly as possible. I think playing the piano is a lot like that.

Offline thirtytwo2020

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #5 on: January 19, 2021, 12:59:11 PM »
The cultivation of piano playing as a competitive, athletic pursuit, an obstacle course requiring stamina and endurance, is bad for mind, body and music.

I sort of agree with this, if athleticism or competitiveness becomes the sole purpose of playing. However, certain pieces are truly athletic and present real physical challenges which must be overcome if you want to perform them properly.

What I always heard is that if your way of playing a piece causes any pain or discomfort whatsoever, even momentarily, even in very hard pieces, you are playing wrong. Usually pain and discomfort are a result of too much tension in the body, and you have to work on playing everything in as relaxed a manner as possible.

This I also think is basically true, and if you experience pain you really need to think twice before going on with whatever you were doing. Having said that, I think some discomfort and tension is inevitable when practising something very difficult that you have never done before.

In other words, I am not surprised that your hands get tired, and it's not necessarily the case that you are doing anything seriously wrong. But I think you need to be careful and don't rush your progress with these pieces.

With the fast repeated octaves in Scriabin, it should help to focus on one large arm movement for every group of octaves, so that the fast, small wrist movements needed for the individual octaves become sort of 'after-bounces' or recoils.

In the Revolutionary study, I would suggest practicing the left hand very softly. Just moving your fingers quickly will not make them tired, but playing every sixteenth note very loudly will do so for sure. Save the power for where its really needed.

Offline ivorycherry

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #6 on: January 19, 2021, 05:14:03 PM »
Hello and thank you all for your responses.
So I tried the Revolutionary etude by playing everything with the left hand super softly and kind of trying to make each run on page 3 soft and super fast by trying to make it look super easy and it works.


With the fast repeated octaves in Scriabin, it should help to focus on one large arm movement for every group of octaves, so that the fast, small wrist movements needed for the individual octaves become sort of 'after-bounces' or recoils.


On the Scriabin, Iím seeing progress, because on the measures from 47 to 62 my teacher says Iím supposed to ďbangĒ those low octaves and then play the chords to accompany the right hand melody really softly and I realized that I was using my entire arm to play the accompanying chords on the left hand after the octaves and now Iím just trying to like bounce my wrist really lightly to hit the chords without moving my arm and Iím seeing progress. My arms are still getting tired, but Iím seeing that theyíre a lot less tired. I canít believe it worked, and it was really easy to change and see a difference in my playing.

Thanks to all of you for your responses,
Alex

Offline dw4rn

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #7 on: January 20, 2021, 07:16:51 AM »
Great news! Good luck with those pieces.

Offline lelle

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #8 on: January 25, 2021, 09:22:22 PM »
I was unfortunately taught initially that stamina was a thing and after working a lot on m technique I have to say that it shouldn't be. If something tires my arms, even if it's a Chopin Etude, I know I am doing something wrong and need to figure out how to stop stiffening up somewhere. It should be possible to play all the Chopin Etudes in a row without getting tired when you get it right.

Offline aaron_banks

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #9 on: February 04, 2021, 10:25:11 AM »
I think 90% of the practice time should be used for non-power playing: piano or maximum mezzo forte. Also go from slower to fast but still in p to mf. 10% can be used for maximum power/tempo. By doing so you will not be exhausted or turn stiff.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Stamina
«Reply #10 on: February 12, 2021, 06:10:20 PM »
I think 90% of the practice time should be used for non-power playing: piano or maximum mezzo forte. Also go from slower to fast but still in p to mf. 10% can be used for maximum power/tempo. By doing so you will not be exhausted or turn stiff.

I think that is a good short-term solution if you are having trouble, but I feel the long-term goal has to be to be able to play safely at any dynamic or tempo. One needs to figure out how to play fast and loud without become exhausted or turning stiff!