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Flying/Tense 5th finger (Read 453 times)

Offline paulgg

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Flying/Tense 5th finger
« on: February 10, 2021, 03:23:36 PM »
Hello guys, I am currently trying to strengthen my technique and Itís going pretty well but I canít solve this flying 5th problem.. I can still play fast and difficult passages of Chopin and rachmaninoff for exemple but Iím currently working on Haydn sonata hob 23 F major and Iím struggling to play some long runs as clean as I would like. Any advices, exercises ? I would appreciate a lot thanks in advance!

Offline sdphins

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #1 on: February 10, 2021, 06:31:12 PM »


This video has some good tips for relaxing the pinky.

Offline paulgg

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #2 on: February 10, 2021, 08:44:44 PM »
Thanks for the reply, I had already watched this video and it helped me a bit but I thought not enough, I'll try this exercises again and see if it gets better.

Offline quantum

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #3 on: February 11, 2021, 01:30:00 PM »
As long as the flying pinky does not result in a over pronation of the hand (as sometimes observed with beginner players) I would argue it is not harmful.  IMO, the flying pinky - more like a hovering pinky - when used properly, is a benefit to the hand not a hindrance.  It creates a skeletal alignment that is more suggestive of the sensation of a flexible palm and open hand rather than letting the pinky brush against the key surface.  The hovering pinky I speak of is not one that rises above all other fingers, but flys level with the other fingers. A good hovering pinky places the 5th finger in optimal position for readyness of execution and balance with the thumb. 

The opposite would be the curled pinky, of which one can find video examples from some pianists in the early to mid 20th century.  I think the curled pinky is far more of a burdensome technique. 

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The shaking exercise (1:04) and the press and release (3:27) exercises from the video above are good ideas.
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 j_tour

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #4 on: February 11, 2021, 02:02:47 PM »
The hovering pinky I speak of is not one that rises above all other fingers, but flys level with the other fingers. A good hovering pinky places the 5th finger in optimal position for readyness of execution and balance with the thumb.

That puts it in perspective.

Just to belabor an old obsession of mine, look at videos of the rather famous and accomplished pianist Polina Osetinskaya.

As much as I admire her playing, I still cringe at looking at her (either hovering or flying) finger 5 in RH. 

Obviously, it doesn't hamper her abilities.

For me, while I don't have her breadth of repertoire nor some of her abilities as a mechanic nor as an artist, I do like to subconsciously "finger" improvised passages in both hands in cases where I expect I might rather use the fifth finger/pinky to grab onto something else, rather than to commit to shifting the entire hand.

Of course I use finger 5 in both hands all the time, but it also has that extra function if I want to think about modulating or trying a different pattern which would otherwise need more committment.  And this is just blues/jazz/R&B, not free-form "serious" improv like many here can do.

IOW, when it's not in use, as it often is, it's sort of like an extra finger I keep in reserve, completely unconsciously.

That doesn't address the tension in the OP, but I think it's been established that a "dangling fifth" is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, my pinkies on each hand are the fattest of all the fingers, excluding the thumbs:  could be tendon(s) or something, or I don't know what.  They get used a lot at the keyboard.
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Offline lelle

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #5 on: February 11, 2021, 10:23:53 PM »
For me it works well to make my hand aware of tension through using my other hand. So first of all, can you place the hand you are having trouble with on the keyboard at all, without tensing the fingers a bit? Use your other hand to check, are the fingers completely soft or is there some tension? If there is, let your fingers be totally soft first before you try playing. Then play the passage slowly and check with your other hand again, are you tensing any of the non-playing fingers as you play? Can you feel your fifth finger or any other finger stiffen or push up against your hand? If yes, relax the fingers again and try again until you can do it without tensing any of them.

For me I don't like shaking exercises and so on so much as I like going straight to the source, training myself to tell my body "no" and "stop" when it wants to tense something until the habit is gone.

Offline quantum

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #6 on: February 12, 2021, 12:27:27 AM »
Shaking can act as a reset or reboot for the body.  Sometimes if one has been playing with the habit of unnecessary tension in the playing mechanism for a long time it can become a normalized sensation.  One might be fully aware the tension exists, but because it has become a routine part of one's technique, it can be difficult to begin to play something familiar in a different way.  Shaking can allow you to reprogram your playing mechanism to do things in a different manner.

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 roncesvalles

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #7 on: February 12, 2021, 12:46:56 PM »
This is something that affects me as well.  A lot goes into it for me (hand position, rotation, location and activity of other fingers, velocity, force).   A year ago I decided to work on this, and so I went back to basics--no more fast scales to warm up, no stretch pieces.  Just slow relaxed work, consciousness of finger placement on the keys and motion of the finger, acknowledgement of what triggers this phenomenon (for me, the 4th finger on a black key, combined with either fast playing or stretches with fingers 2 or 3).  My left hand has gotten much better--the finger thing isn't noticeable except playing things like a B minor scale at a blistering pace (4th finger on F#) or certain figurations in Godowsky where fingers must play fast when there are contrapuntal held notes.
My right hand has been more difficult.  I'm currently putting more work on it--slow scales, some relaxed finger exercises (where I'm lifting and depressing the fourth, and sometimes other fingers, while resting all my other fingers on the keys completely relaxed), then chunk work with scales and other figurations that have been problematic for me, seeing where it occurs, making sure I'm relaxed, striking the key efficiently.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Flying/Tense 5th finger
«Reply #8 on: February 13, 2021, 02:01:32 PM »
My pinky has been flying for all my 50 years of playing piano. It is not however tense and I have never found it a hindrance.
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Sometimes, changing something that is natural can have adverse effects.

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