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Scale technique (Read 1610 times)

Offline slurred_beat

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Scale technique
« on: February 23, 2021, 11:59:20 AM »
I'm wondering what are some good tips for scale technique? I'm a bit confused  ??? I read in this thread https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,1918.0.html that you shouldnt put the thumb under my hand in fast scales. But when I try "jumping" with the hand to a new position instead it my sound is not even. And its still not fast. Can someone explain?

Online brogers70

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 12:26:55 PM »
Have a look at some of Josh Wright's videos on scales. I'll link to one and you can look for more from there. As far as thumb under goes, I wouldn't obsess too much about it. If you keep your hand and wrist relaxed, as you increase the speed of your scales you'll reach a point where the thumb is no longer going under very much just because the rest of the hand is moving up the scale steadily and quickly. There are all sorts of little motions involved, a little lateral bend in the wrist, a small amount of forearm rotation, but it's hard to describe them in a way that doesn't allow for misunderstanding or doing too much or too little of one of them. So I'd say watch some of the scale videos by Josh Wright (Graham Fitch is pretty good, too) and be patient with yourself.


Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 01:00:38 PM »
It is not that you shouldn't pass the thumb under when playing rapid scales, you should be able to do it both ways. If you are playing scales without passing the thumb under you have to start moving the thumb while the other fingers are playing in a much shorter distance and quicker speed than you would with thumb under.  You also carry your hand over a lot faster too to minimize the shape change to your hand. Thumb under is a larger movement, if you cross over it is much smaller thus your movements need to be much faster as well as smaller, if you leave the movement to the last moment it of course will cause problems. Also when other fingers which usually cross over the thumb occur the thumb should reduce the amount it is under them if at all, you move so it is miminised and your hand expansions and contractions strive to stay put. Don't know if that helps but perhaps it is something to consider.
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Offline dw4rn

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #3 on: February 25, 2021, 01:47:53 PM »
be patient with yourself.

Best advice ever :)

If you just tried out a new technique, you shouldn't be surprised that it doesn't do wonders immediately. Whether one does thumb under or not, most of us need a lot of time and slow and intelligent practice before we can be proud of our scales. How long have you been playing? Are you equally unhappy with both hands? Is it just the thumb crossings that makes the scales uneven (can you play a five-finger scale fast and smooth?)

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #4 on: February 25, 2021, 03:35:49 PM »
Find that old Bernhard post about "pearly scales."

He describes in detail the four motions that are necessary to play smooth fast scales. 

They include the thumb motion, but also forearm rotation, elbow angle change, and front to back adjustment, and he takes you through the procedure of adding each element one at a time. 
Tim

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #5 on: February 26, 2021, 10:27:20 PM »
For a long time I was very focused on the thumb and making sure it was relaxed and moving smoothly. I just assumed the other fingers were doing fine. But I discovered that they weren't :P If the other fingers tense up as they pass over the thumb it becomes very hard to play smoothly. Scales are really about the whole hand moving softly and precisely and staying relaxed at all times. I think this is why they can be such a useful tool for devloping technique. Mindlessly drilling them and hoping technical expertise would fall out on the other end never worked for me, though.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #6 on: February 26, 2021, 11:43:00 PM »
I think the "thumb under vs thumb over" debate gets overblown at times. At a slow tempo, playing Bach or something without pedal, obviously you're going to play thumb under, and at a very fast tempo playing Liszt arpeggios all over the place you're bound to do thumb over. In between the two, there is a smooth transition. At a fast enough speed and with the right technique, thumb over vs thumb under is imperceptible (and it's impossible to really do thumb under anyway). What you need to focus on imo is to get the transitions to the point where you aren't emphasizing overly emphasizing the thumb or clumping the notes, etc. I don't think there is that much variance among scale technique among players at the highest levels imo. Of course, if you're playing something really slowly, you can incorporate all sorts of extraneous motion without really affecting the sound, but that doesn't mean the extra motion is necessary. At a fast speed, the number of possible motions reduces, and there's no way you can play thumb under 200 bpm quarter note scales.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #7 on: February 27, 2021, 01:22:02 AM »
I think the "thumb under vs thumb over" debate gets overblown at times.

Yeah, I sort of agree.  It is, however, a different approach.  Let's call "thumb over" a hand position oritented technique, and, well, "thumb under," I don't know what to call it.  Maybe for a simple, slow piece.

And "thumb under," in my view, includes a bunch of fancy stuff like ornamentation or variations on a given pitch.

My only and final opinion, and until I do a recording of the Prokofiev precipitato, it's just some random person, is that switching hand positions (meaning, move the arms, about the axis of, say, the spine), is the only possible way to play rep.

Yeah, maybe you can fake it for some stuff, flopping about the wrists and such, I can't see any other way.
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Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #8 on: February 27, 2021, 02:40:24 PM »

My only and final opinion, and until I do a recording of the Prokofiev precipitato, it's just some random person, is that switching hand positions (meaning, move the arms, about the axis of, say, the spine), is the only possible way to play rep.

Yes, exactly.  That's why I recommended the Bernhard post.  He describes this very precisely. 
Tim

Offline slurred_beat

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #9 on: March 08, 2021, 10:02:59 PM »
Thank you all for the answers.

Find that old Bernhard post about "pearly scales."

He describes in detail the four motions that are necessary to play smooth fast scales. 

They include the thumb motion, but also forearm rotation, elbow angle change, and front to back adjustment, and he takes you through the procedure of adding each element one at a time.

I try to do the movements he writes but it is very weird. He is saying that you shouldn't move my fingers

"Now, break the chords (C-D-E) and (F-G-A-B) by ďrollingĒ your hand to the right. Again , you are not really pressing the fingers, but rotating the forearm and using this movement coupled with the arm weight to depress the keys.  Incidentally, you have just slowed down from infinite speed (what could faster than together) to ridiculously fast."

but it doesnt work to have my fingers still and move my arm. It doesnt feel good and it sounds bad  :( ???

I try the other mvoements but its very hard to think about all the information at the same time :(

Is this really how you play scales? I feel very confused ???

Offline ranjit

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #10 on: March 08, 2021, 10:06:48 PM »
I would suggest thinking about it as minimizing movement of your fingers rather than keeping them absolutely still. There still needs to be some motion, but it's very slight and goes along with the rotation.

You could also check out Danae Dorken's video on scales.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #11 on: March 11, 2021, 09:50:15 PM »
I try the other mvoements but its very hard to think about all the information at the same time :(

Is this really how you play scales? I feel very confused ???

Yes when you do it consciously it feels awkward.  If you give it a chance to become natural that will hopefully go away.  You wouldn't think about those motions when playing repertoire but you do when you're learning a motion. 
Tim

Online lelle

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #12 on: March 15, 2021, 09:25:49 PM »
Yes when you do it consciously it feels awkward.  If you give it a chance to become natural that will hopefully go away.  You wouldn't think about those motions when playing repertoire but you do when you're learning a motion. 

Do you guys think there is any worth to doing something consciously if it feels awkward? I often find myself doing the best if I can figure out from the start how to make the right movements unconsciously. If I first have the step of thinking about them and doing it in a way that feels awkward, it seems to me to not be the right way, since it is not my goal to do anything that feels awkward. Does this make any sense?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #13 on: March 16, 2021, 11:46:37 AM »
Do you guys think there is any worth to doing something consciously if it feels awkward? I often find myself doing the best if I can figure out from the start how to make the right movements unconsciously. If I first have the step of thinking about them and doing it in a way that feels awkward, it seems to me to not be the right way, since it is not my goal to do anything that feels awkward. Does this make any sense?

I don't claim to be an expert in biomechanics.  It just seems to me that things the human does routinely like walk, run, jump, throw, lift might be bad things to do awkwardly.  However, piano is not something any human was designed for.  So I don't think the feeling of awkwardness necessarily gives you any feedback at all about whether your motion is correct.

There are people who believe in that Inner Tennis approach where you focus on the end results and deliberately ignore knowing how you do it, and that works for some people.  And some people develop the most horrendous mechanics imaginable. 
Tim

Online lelle

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #14 on: March 17, 2021, 06:36:44 PM »
However, piano is not something any human was designed for.  So I don't think the feeling of awkwardness necessarily gives you any feedback at all about whether your motion is correct.


I kind of disagree there. Sure, we did not evolve specifically with the piano in mind, but the movements we do use to play the piano - at least when it's well coordinated playing - are all simple movements that we did evolve to make, which is why we can do them so efficiently and safely despite them being thousands and thousands of repetitive movements. To put it another way, none of the movements used when playing need to feel awkward, because they are perfectly natural movements.

Quote
There are people who believe in that Inner Tennis approach where you focus on the end results and deliberately ignore knowing how you do it, and that works for some people.  And some people develop the most horrendous mechanics imaginable.

This is sort of similar to what I landed on. I think it needs to be done mindfully and with a certain knowledge of how you need to approach things psychologically to move with natural and relaxed movements. If you have never touched a piano before, you couldn't be expected to focus on the result of a perfect La Campanella and expect that to work.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #15 on: March 17, 2021, 08:04:57 PM »
However, piano is not something any human was designed for.  So I don't think the feeling of awkwardness necessarily gives you any feedback at all about whether your motion is correct.
Humans weren't designed for the piano. However, people designed the piano for humans. So, pianos are designed in a way which allows for effective movement, and this design has developed over centuries. I would say that the feeling of awkwardness can definitely give you an idea of where you can improve.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #16 on: March 19, 2021, 12:26:47 AM »
Humans weren't designed for the piano. However, people designed the piano for humans.

People have attempted to but it hasn't caught on.

Why is the keyboard straight?  If you're going to play more than an octave or so, you want to rotate, and the piano keyboard should curve around your body.  Etc. 

If the piano were really ergonomic, would the injury rate be so disastrously high among serious players? 
Tim

Online dogperson

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #17 on: March 19, 2021, 04:23:48 AM »
People have attempted to but it hasn't caught on.

Why is the keyboard straight?  If you're going to play more than an octave or so, you want to rotate, and the piano keyboard should curve around your body.  Etc. 

If the piano were really ergonomic, would the injury rate be so disastrously high among serious players?


Arenít most injuries RSIs?  If so, changing the ergonomics of the piano would probably not lower the injury rate by much. Pianists would still think they could practice the same repetitive movement for extended periods on time.

Iím curious if  a curved keyboard would allow enough arm to keyboard length on the curved ends.

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #18 on: March 19, 2021, 07:05:59 AM »
If the piano were really ergonomic, would the injury rate be so disastrously high among serious players?
That's because they are just seriously bad players.
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Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #19 on: March 19, 2021, 12:32:18 PM »
That's because they are just seriously bad players.

Except that much of the data comes from young people who were skilled enough to get into conservatories.  They are injured not because they do it wrong, but because they do it for hours. 
Tim

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #20 on: March 19, 2021, 04:06:19 PM »
Except that much of the data comes from young people who were skilled enough to get into conservatories.  They are injured not because they do it wrong, but because they do it for hours.

They are certainly injured because they do it wrong, because with the right technique you can play 8 hours a day without hurting yourself.

That's because they are just seriously bad players.

However, I do want to protest against calling them "bad players", I think that is a very damaging way to look at it, and it does not help anyone. Injured pianists, who love piano more than anything and would love to be able to play without pain, and sometimes do not even have the option of quitting due to needing to play to maintain scholarships etc, have it hard enough as it is without being called "bad". They are not bad, they have just not been taught some things that are necessary to know and supported until they can do it.

I know some pianists who were great both technically and musically, but who still hurt themselves because of some minor habits that caused strain combined with more work than their body could handle during those circumstances. Some of them may even have been perfectly fine regarding their technical foundation, but during a period of stress or other psychological issues created more tension in their playing and voila, tendonitis. Even Lang Lang has injured himself. None of these people I would call "seriously bad players". We need to have compassion and seriously consider how we use our language. Are we helping these people or doing more damage through our words?

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #21 on: March 19, 2021, 04:32:38 PM »
They are certainly injured because they do it wrong, because with the right technique genetics you can play 8 hours a day without hurting yourself.


Fixed that for you. 

I'm sorry, but regardless how perfect your technique is, doing something for many hours a day carries risk. 

And of course, bad technique increases the risk, and good reduces it, but any repetitive motion activity will produce injury.
Tim

Offline ted

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #22 on: March 19, 2021, 10:39:30 PM »
To revert to the original posterís question, is there anyone else here who, like me, finds the almost universal pianistic obsession with one particular keyboard subset played in one particular fashion, i.e. smooth scales, puzzlingly limiting and destructive to both technique and the creative musical impulse ? Yes, I can do it if I want to but why on earth would I waste so much time and consciousness in an area the size of a pinprick within an infinite musical landscape ?
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #23 on: March 19, 2021, 11:25:40 PM »
To revert to the original posterís question, is there anyone else here who, like me, finds the almost universal pianistic obsession with one particular keyboard subset played in one particular fashion, i.e. smooth scales, puzzlingly limiting and destructive to both technique and the creative musical impulse ? Yes, I can do it if I want to but why on earth would I waste so much time and consciousness in an area the size of a pinprick within an infinite musical landscape ?
I used to think that way, but now that I've made my way around the keyboard to an extent, I've changed my mind somewhat. It's not that easy to play a really even scale and I still can't do it consistently, and I think that the skills which you acquire can generalize quite well to playing a variety of different passages. I think that once done well, one can automatically generalize the motion for any kind of scalar passage, and 90 percent of piano playing involves some commination of scalar and arpeggio passages imo.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #24 on: March 20, 2021, 12:17:18 AM »
To revert to the original posterís question, is there anyone else here who, like me, finds the almost universal pianistic obsession with one particular keyboard subset played in one particular fashion, i.e. smooth scales, puzzlingly limiting and destructive to both technique and the creative musical impulse ?

Not so much.

I'm not dismissing your point out of hand, but I do find the obsession with certain "landmarks" of repertoire unsettling.  I think the latter you would much agree with me is distressing.

But not technical matters:  for me, it's very much needed to play what I desire to have the "pearly" scales, in thirds and sixths, and at the octave.

I do find it worthwhile to abstract from the passages (yes, even improvised, or through-composed, or whatever) those techniques needed.

To the point of passing an exam or something?  Sure, I can see that.  I don't see the point in polishing an abstraction, though:  there we agree, certainly.  It's not something I think about, but it's not a positive trait in a musician, I wouldn't think.

In short, I suppose we agree.  But you can play whatever you want:  you have command of your instrument.  Similarly, when I improvise, I want to have the ability to execute what I desire.  In the case of scales, sure, I can run up and down with the best of them, but not with the control I desire in either hand.  More accurately, both hands at whatever interval.  No, it's not a complicated problem, but I find it becomes one when it isn't part of one's mental or physiological furniture.
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Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #25 on: March 20, 2021, 01:08:45 AM »
Except that much of the data comes from young people who were skilled enough to get into conservatories.  They are injured not because they do it wrong, but because they do it for hours.
Ive seen some of the data a few years ago you discussed it on pianostreet, it's a pretty tiny sample space and poor controls. Just because you are studying in a conservatory doesn't mean you are a high level pianist. The fact that a minority get injuries simply demonstrates poor practice method or medical conditions. Playing the piano should not cause pain and injury unless you are being very stupid.

However, I do want to protest against calling them "bad players", I think that is a very damaging way to look at it, and it does not help anyone.
I don't think its bad or damaging in any way at all. In fact I think if you call them good advanced players and that these top players all get injured that is a lot more dangerous. No, they are crap pianists if they are injuring themselves. Perhaps they are doing courses they cannot keep up with, universities any way are not the best place to develop your music skills at and pretty much a waste of money especially in the USA where the tuition fees are just ridiculous.

Injured pianists, who love piano more than anything and would love to be able to play without pain, and sometimes do not even have the option of quitting due to needing to play to maintain scholarships etc, have it hard enough as it is without being called "bad". They are not bad, they have just not been taught some things that are necessary to know and supported until they can do it.
They are bad and if my comment hurts them then they should just cry it out a bit. Honestly if anyone is injuring themselves playing the piano how else can you describe their attitude towards their work? It is foolish to work so inefficiently that you cause yourself injuries, that has nothing to do with talent or high ability level. If you have a medical condition it is no good blaming it on piano when the cause is something else.

I know some pianists who were great both technically and musically, but who still hurt themselves because of some minor habits that caused strain combined with more work than their body could handle during those circumstances. Some of them may even have been perfectly fine regarding their technical foundation, but during a period of stress or other psychological issues created more tension in their playing and voila, tendonitis. Even Lang Lang has injured himself. None of these people I would call "seriously bad players". We need to have compassion and seriously consider how we use our language. Are we helping these people or doing more damage through our words?
Goodness sake I am not here to walk on eggshells, if someone is going to be hurt by my comments on an internet forum then they really do have problems! I am saying it like it is, if you are injuring yourself with your piano practice then YOU are doing something wrong and it is only your own damn fault. I know there are famous examples of people hurting themselves but it should not inspire one to be awe struck and think "wow they must practice so hard and apply themselves so much it causes injury!" it is nothing to be "wowed", it is not impressive, it does not demonstrate anything at all but their pig headed stupidity or a medical condition which wasn't caused by piano itself. Who on earth works in such a way which will limit future progress? Just silly people.

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Offline ted

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #26 on: March 20, 2021, 01:19:06 AM »
Thanks for your replies, ranjit and j_tour. So you think that in order to develop a sufficiently wide and expressive palette of keyboard figuration we must first work on the physical mastery of a debilitatingly narrow one ? For some people I concede that is undoubtedly the case, although surely more interesting ways must exist. If it were true for me then all I can say is that I am profoundly glad I could do scales in ten minutes a day on the silent Virgil Practice Clavier and don't have to hear it. Yes, both of you could be right and my assessment of the matter is based on a lifelong peculiar approach to piano playing. Exactly which notes are used to develop technical facility wouldn't matter though would it ? Dexterity is just dexterity whatever the notes. What is the advantage of cementing the process to the sounds and playing forms of old-fashioned music if one is not moved by old-fashioned music ? 
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Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #27 on: March 20, 2021, 01:52:53 AM »
To revert to the original posterís question, is there anyone else here who, like me, finds the almost universal pianistic obsession with one particular keyboard subset played in one particular fashion, i.e. smooth scales, puzzlingly limiting and destructive to both technique and the creative musical impulse ? Yes, I can do it if I want to but why on earth would I waste so much time and consciousness in an area the size of a pinprick within an infinite musical landscape ?
What is the point in playing something technically strong but you have no idea how to apply it in a musical manner to an actual piece? Perhaps that is why we today see many examples of fast accurate playing but with very mediocre musical expression. People labor on technically challenging pieces and so long they get all the fingers and notes correct and comfortable they are satisfied, too bad their artistic expression just sounds like maths measurements. I still wonder why some people work so hard on scales for instance with both hands many octaves up and down but play no pieces which demand such movements.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #28 on: March 20, 2021, 01:54:07 AM »
Thanks for your replies, ranjit and j_tour. So you think that in order to develop a sufficiently wide and expressive palette of keyboard figuration we must first work on the physical mastery of a debilitatingly narrow one ?

No, I think you have a more expansive bag of tricks, and I certainly don't have the chops to contest your own experience.

However, I do find still find that when I hear a line and wish to play it, I'm sometimes frustrated by my inability to play, say, a scalar passage in thirds at a very quick tempo in four.

So, I do the scales and all that. 

Seems reasonable to me.

Exactly which notes are used to develop technical facility wouldn't matter though would it ? Dexterity is just dexterity whatever the notes. What is the advantage of cementing the process to the sounds and playing forms of old-fashioned music if one is not moved by old-fashioned music ? 

That's a fair point:  I'd agree, exactly none.  Provided one is a competent musician and not a dullard who is incapable of associating pitches with physical actions.

Still, it is an exercise.

So, to discriminate:  one must know the difference between a game and an exercise.  And further, what it is to play a game.  A music game, or a musical language.
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Offline ted

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #29 on: March 20, 2021, 02:25:13 AM »
I still wonder why some people work so hard on scales for instance with both hands many octaves up and down but play no pieces which demand such movements.

Exactly, mystery to me too.
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Offline ted

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #30 on: March 20, 2021, 02:39:49 AM »
I'm sometimes frustrated by my inability to play, say, a scalar passage in thirds at a very quick tempo in four.
So, I do the scales and all that. 
Seems reasonable to me.

The problem I have is likely that I find it difficult to put my mind into neutral with any sort of piano sound. I am not ignorant concerning keys and scales, I went through them the same as everyone else. As the fundamental subsets of the seven most closely related pitches they are worth getting into the mind for that reason alone. But my compulsion to listen to what I am doing and to push myself to think demand that I play them in different ways at the instrument. As you imply, using them in various double note combinations, combining two or more keys at once, multiple rhythms, varying finger striking sequences  and constant invention is far more stimulating than repetitively going up and down smoothly with no accents and no phrasing.

Scales have as much right to musically live as any other subset. It is probably just the way everybody seems to play them which I find pointless.
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Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #31 on: March 20, 2021, 02:46:32 AM »
I understand why teaching emphasises clean, clear scales.

What I *don't* understand is why teaching doesn't seem to emphasise clean scales played evenly with a cresc / dim through them, or a well-gradated accel or rit.. maybe that's just me.

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #32 on: March 20, 2021, 03:20:51 AM »
I mean scales are pretty important to memorize, everyone should know all sorts of fingerings and notes that are used to create the scales, the many landscapes of the keyboard should be innately known. Then of course how exactly we go about playing the many different patterns within those positions becomes a curiosity but I feel it really needs to be connected to the repetoire one explores otherwise it is not the best use of your time.

My technique grew far more from studying many pieces not from technical exercises in isolation. Technical patterns should be known in isolation from actual music but they must find connection to the music you study. Some people are just intrigued by these patterns and can do them all day, but personally I need to hear them used in an artistic manner, one that brings me joy and benefits my understanding of musical language.

Technical patterns isolated from musical expression are fragments of bland expression, segments of musical language which doesn't have artistic meaning and this does pose a problem. How you might do a scale isolated from musical context may be different to an actual piece using the same scale. However one who obsesses with technical patterns outside of musical context might have some fixed ideology as to how to play that scale and simply copy paste that into pieces without regard for musical context. There are countless ways to play a scale depending on the musical context and the other notes that are interacting with it. You cannot capture that training scales in isolation from music, you have to play many scales in actual pieces and see the many ways they are used in an artistic framework.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #33 on: March 20, 2021, 05:08:14 AM »
So you think that in order to develop a sufficiently wide and expressive palette of keyboard figuration we must first work on the physical mastery of a debilitatingly narrow one ?
In my case, that's not how I would put it. As I see it, there are multiple functions of scale practice, and while some of them are replaceable, others sort of aren't. I'm also not quite talking about blindly pounding through them in all octaves, but trying to make them very even and clear.

Exactly which notes are used to develop technical facility wouldn't matter though would it ? Dexterity is just dexterity whatever the notes.
I'm not really sure if there is such a kind of generalized dexterity which you developed (it's possible, I'm just not sure what exactly that is). What I've observed is that a considerable amount of developing dexterity was a result of eliminating inefficiencies of various kinds, and training certain kinds of movements. The kinds of movements that work on scales don't directly generalize to arpeggios, and so on -- the relevant motions are slightly different for everything. Also, while playing, you don't have enough time to think of the individual notes in a fast run, so having the "bricks" pre-prepared is helpful. Again, thinking about it from the perspective of removing minute inefficiencies in movement which create speed walls, it makes sense that the slight modifications required vary from scale to scale, and "specializing" by studying them individually makes sense given how commonly they occur.

For some people I concede that is undoubtedly the case, although surely more interesting ways must exist.
As I have mentioned before, I have pretty much acquired all of my technique up until now by experimentation -- improvisation, and in general by using every trick in the book to make things interesting. I'm gradually realizing certain limitations which have come about as a direct consequence, and which other pianists have made me aware of.

When I say that I'm gradually realizing the importance of scales, I mean that I'm realizing how trying to get them effortless and 'perfect' requires very precise hand movements, and scales are a great way to train those hand movements (the shifts and the arm weight, etc.) because so little is going on and everything is transparent and easy to hear. I feel like I have a lot to gain by trying to play scales 'perfectly' because it acts as a training ground and benchmark for how well I'm doing when it comes to the effectiveness of those fundamental movements. I think a lot of good teachers actually use scales in this manner -- although they may not state so explicitly, they keep watching the developing pianist's (typically child's) movements and tweaking them until they get it right.

I think that this kind of thing is precisely what I missed when I self-taught (a few different pianists have independently told me this), and a teacher recently pointed out that some of my movements were near-identical to what one would observe in a recording visually, but were actually different. Replacing the scale with something more interesting in this kind of situation would only detract from the real goal.


Of course, this may be far from what your neighborhood teacher teaches, but that is not what I'm talking about. Also, it's possible that children manage to learn to play using very effective motions without explicit guidance, and in that case, making them do scales consistently makes sense. Pedagogy and motor learning are rather complex things to think about and there can be some surprising revelations -- one thing I realized recently that many people who keep talking about finger strength, playing Hanon until your fingers bleed (not literally!), and similar nonsense, often have fine technique. It's possible that this kind of learning is actually effective for children and sets neural pathways. And the constant reinforcement could serve to deeply ingrain those pathways. The same thing may not be effective for all age groups, or with poor teachers. Eventually, there may be certain things here which "work" but are counterintuitive. I used to think that all of those people raised with "finger strength" would have to remediate their playing later, but I've realized it's simply not the case, and while they may suffer from being inexpressive, they very often have a great touch and technique.

That went into a bit of a tangent, but I think it's relevant. I used to think similarly, that learning as many configurations as I could with an active mind was a great way to go, but now I've shifted to thinking about very specific aspects with the expectation that what I learn would generalize on its own. Perhaps the reason for this is because I already have a bank of learned movements which I can bank on and draw from. You can either take a large corpus of material and do some kind of "statistical analysis" in your head to learn it, or you can take something really small and tangible and branch out. I think scales could be a good example of the latter.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #34 on: March 21, 2021, 11:54:07 PM »
Ive seen some of the data a few years ago you discussed it on pianostreet, it's a pretty tiny sample space and poor controls. Just because you are studying in a conservatory doesn't mean you are a high level pianist. The fact that a minority get injuries simply demonstrates poor practice method or medical conditions. Playing the piano should not cause pain and injury unless you are being very stupid.

Unfortunately it's more like more than half of all serious piano students who injure themselves, not a minority.

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They are bad and if my comment hurts them then they should just cry it out a bit. Honestly if anyone is injuring themselves playing the piano how else can you describe their attitude towards their work? It is foolish to work so inefficiently that you cause yourself injuries, that has nothing to do with talent or high ability level.

I can think of many factors beyond having a bad attitude towards their work. I can take an example from my own life. During my ten years of training I had before I entered music college and experienced playing related pain, not once was I informed that you needed to be relaxed when you played, nor was it pointed out to me that I was tense and that this was bad, let alone how I could fix it. Therefore, I did not even know what relaxation nor tension in playing was, or that one of them was right, and one of them was wrong.

If I wanted to run, my body did its thing, and made me run, and that was that. If I breathed, my body did its thing, and air went in and out of my body, and that was that. If I wanted to play the piano, my body did its thing, and I played, and that was that. I had experienced fatigue in my arms, but I assumed that was perfectly normal, because I had no reason to think it was not normal.

The first time I realized I was doing anything wrong at all was when I had played for almost ten years and experienced pain, which made me frightened, so I went on google and realized there were problems with my technique. Unfortunately, at that point the bad habits that caused the problem were so ingrained I couldn't tell they were there or what they even were, let alone how to make them go away. It took many years of work and frustration to improve matters.

I would not call myself stupid for ending up in pain or for not instantly being able to play safely after that, or that it was my own fault, because I had done what I was taught and had no reason to believe there was anything significantly wrong with what I was doing. I couldn't for one second imagine that something like playing the piano could injure you, and I had never heard of it before it happened to me.

Another example is my girlfriend, who did have good basic training with good relaxation as a base. She practised six to eight hours a day without feeling any discomfort whatsoever, until she suddenly did. And the more she tried to fix it, the worse it got. Turns out stress and anxiety related to studying at the college created tension in her shoulders that had not been there before, and that was enough to set the stage for her troubles when she practised diligently for a concerto performance with an orchestra, dutiful to do her best as she is. I would not call her stupid, or say that it was her own fault, or that she was foolish either.

I should also mention that we both sought advice from many different sources that did not help us, and I would not really call either of us stupid for not being able to avoid playing related problems because of that either.

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Goodness sake I am not here to walk on eggshells, if someone is going to be hurt by my comments on an internet forum then they really do have problems! I am saying it like it is, if you are injuring yourself with your piano practice then YOU are doing something wrong and it is only your own damn fault. I know there are famous examples of people hurting themselves but it should not inspire one to be awe struck and think "wow they must practice so hard and apply themselves so much it causes injury!" it is nothing to be "wowed", it is not impressive, it does not demonstrate anything at all but their pig headed stupidity or a medical condition which wasn't caused by piano itself. Who on earth works in such a way which will limit future progress? Just silly people.

I agree that injuries are caused by doing something wrong. That's not what I am arguing against. However, if an injured pianist came to your doorstep and said:
"Lostinidlewonder, please, can you help me? I was so passionate about music and I practised a lot because I wanted to become really good at it and now I am injured and I haven't been able to play even half an hour a day for over a year because the problem does not go away. I would wish for nothing more in the whole world than to be able to play again. I am so depressed because music is my life, what must I do?"
Would you answer, as you have written on these forums:
"Go and cry it out. It's you own fault, you are a crap pianist and working stupidly, you have a bad attitude towards your work, you injured yourself because you are a silly person."?
Do you think this person then would say:
"Oh thank you so much lostinidlewonder, I am feeling happier about my problem already. Can I be your student?"

I think it's more likely that they would possibly feel very ashamed and be ten times more afraid to ever ask someone for help again. I think that is some real damage that has been done, because being injured is often associated with shame already for many people; asking for help with something you are ashamed about can feel very vulnerable, and the last thing they need is to fear asking for help even more. And it could have been averted just by being a bit more mindful and compassionate with the words we choose to use.

It's important to aim to help people, not to kick those who are already down. I do not think your choice of words helps people. I think there is a risk people who are injured and read your words become more afraid to ask for help. (There are however, many kind and compassionate teachers out there, some of them may be able to help you if you have an injury and will not just scold you, I promise.)

For a more compassionate perspective on injury, I would really recommend you watch the following talk by a pianist who is active in the field of musician's injuries:


Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #35 on: March 22, 2021, 04:00:19 AM »
Unfortunately it's more like more than half of all serious piano students who injure themselves, not a minority.
I guess we have to believe you? Go on show some of the data, we will see how pathetically small the sample space is. Those that injure themselves from overpracticing (due to exams or performance deadlines) really only have themselves to blame.

I can think of many factors beyond having a bad attitude towards their work. I can take an example from my own life. During my ten years of training I had before I entered music college and experienced playing related pain, not once was I informed that you needed to be relaxed when you played, nor was it pointed out to me that I was tense and that this was bad, let alone how I could fix it. Therefore, I did not even know what relaxation nor tension in playing was, or that one of them was right, and one of them was wrong.
I find this very peculiar, you actually needed someone to tell you that one needs relaxation and less tension when they play? This seems a logical conclusion that even an early beginner understands.

Early beginners I teach play with poor technique and rough movements, if you used those in much more advanced pieces for extended periods of time they certainly would hurt themselves. As a teacher I can provide music which promotes comfort and relaxation then edge the bar up which allows them to deal with more and more complicated movements. The reality is that developing pianists do play with poor technique which is constantly improving. However if one believes that poor technique is the source of injury they are severely mistaken, it is doing something bad for extended periods and pushing through the pain barrier stubbornly that is the cause most of the times. It is absolutely stupid to practice in a manner which hurts you and then to push through that and cause injury then throw your hands complaing "why me?!" It occurs when preparing for stressful deadlines but why would someone blame it on piano, blame in on practice method and repertoire choice, time management skills, it is not the pianos fault.


If I wanted to run, my body did its thing, and made me run, and that was that. If I breathed, my body did its thing, and air went in and out of my body, and that was that. If I wanted to play the piano, my body did its thing, and I played, and that was that. I had experienced fatigue in my arms, but I assumed that was perfectly normal, because I had no reason to think it was not normal.
You don't learn to run without learning many easier movements before hand. Breathing doesn't require conscious attention. Piano technique and practice method evolves over time, you don't just come up with a standard solution which is unchanging, it is not just a natural reaction like breathing lol. If you used brute force excessive repetitions in your practice method that is just your fault or your teachers who never taught you correct practice strategies.

The first time I realized I was doing anything wrong at all was when I had played for almost ten years and experienced pain, which made me frightened, so I went on google and realized there were problems with my technique.
You didn't really mention exactly what was causing your pain, why after 10 years did you experience it for the first time? What music where you playing, what approach did you use, why did you practice it excessively and push through your pain barriers? Why did you not experience pain with poor practice method in the past before? Surely in 10 years you would have come across the concept that overpracticing can cause pain, but that has nothing to do with technique it has all to do with practice method.

Do you claim technical changes were more helpful than practice method changes? From my experience I find that practice method and approach trump any sort of poor technical problems in terms of avoiding injury. Why do all of my early beginners not experience any pain even though their technique is so poor? Yes I hear them saying a part of their body is tired so then I tell them to give it a rest and focus on something else until they recover. It is a simple logic that doens't require much thought. If you feel pain don't push through it, and pain will almost always come from incorrect practice routines which do no listen to ones body.

Unfortunately, at that point the bad habits that caused the problem were so ingrained I couldn't tell they were there or what they even were, let alone how to make them go away. It took many years of work and frustration to improve matters.
Bad habits unable to remove is a fallacy, it is just a common idea people keep spewing and repeating, I am yet to come across any bad habit in any person which cannot be changed. When it comes to pain simply not overpracticing will solve 99% of the problems.

If you have a medical condition which has nothing to do with piano but is aggrivated by piano playing then no amount of technical adjustment will help. I have taught people with so much back pain that they cannot even sit at the piano for more than 5 minutes at a time. We can have them lying down on a bed with a piano propped up. I have taught those with strokes who had to play with pillows under their forearms so they could keep their hands up on the keyboard. I mean if you really have a bad medical condition the changes you have to make are quite intrusive it is often better to simply do something else and there is no failure in that.

I have always suggested doing something else because no one should do any activity which brings pain worsening medical conditions, that is just stupidity imho. There are plenty of things in this world that you can get joy from, piano playing is not the only one. If I lost all my capacity to play and teach the piano I would recreate my interests, quite simple. Why bang my head against something that is impossible to correct?

I would not call myself stupid for ending up in pain or for not instantly being able to play safely after that, or that it was my own fault, because I had done what I was taught and had no reason to believe there was anything significantly wrong with what I was doing.
You said you had 10 years of experience before facing pain, you should question what are you actually doing different that caused that pain, it is a logical path to take you have a lot of experience to draw from where you had no pain from your piano studies. I don't know many people who beleive that pushing through pain on the piano is beneficial and then wonder why they are injured after they do that for extended periods of time. Even if you are working out at a gym no one works out so hard that they hurt themselves that would be clearly counterproductive. Even working at a job if you are so stressed out and mentally exhaused every single day you are setting yourself up for a heart attack or mental breakdown.

I couldn't for one second imagine that something like playing the piano could injure you, and I had never heard of it before it happened to me.
How can you say you have absolutely no idea that people could injure themselves on the piano? That it took you to get injured to realize it is a possibility? This seems crazy. Surely you experienced lactic acid burn as you tired yourself out at the piano and logically it would be a bad idea to push through that pain. You don't need the piano to explain that to you, you know that from just doing excercise, running around. Have you ever run so much that you get a stitch? Do you then keep running and wonder what are you doing technically wrong to feel such pain? You realize it is because you are over exterting yourself that the pain occurs and it has nothing to do with running incorrectly. The same applies for piano, if people are feeling pain and simply pushing through that then find out they are injured themselves, it is practice method which is the culprit. Multiple repeats of poor movements causes pain not poor movements themselves, this is an important distinction to make.

Another example is my girlfriend, who did have good basic training with good relaxation as a base. She practised six to eight hours a day without feeling any discomfort whatsoever, until she suddenly did. And the more she tried to fix it, the worse it got. Turns out stress and anxiety related to studying at the college created tension in her shoulders that had not been there before, and that was enough to set the stage for her troubles when she practised diligently for a concerto performance with an orchestra, dutiful to do her best as she is. I would not call her stupid, or say that it was her own fault, or that she was foolish either.
All these stories really to me feel rather flimsy, you are saying, oh gosh we didnt realize you could have pain, it just came out of nowhere and hit us, I didnt know how it happened, it is just a mystery, even if we tried to solve it, it just made it worse...... riiiiiiight. How did she try to fix her problems? Surely it should include not over practicing which causes the pain, the pain is not magically going to appear from limited efficient practice routines.

I should also mention that we both sought advice from many different sources that did not help us, and I would not really call either of us stupid for not being able to avoid playing related problems because of that either.
I think its pretty stupid if you realize there is pain in your approach to piano playing and you cannot solve it at all. One would limit their practice repetitions which are the source for pain. Over repeating uncomfortable movements will cause tension which will cause you to burn a little at the keyboard (even over pracitcing good movements can cause pain but then why would one practice something technically tough at full force then with multiple repetitions? Simply adjusting and playing gentle will allow more repeats, that is just a simple logic you don't need anyone to tell you that, it might say play forte but play piano so you can get more repeats in, it might say play it at 200 tempo but bring it back down if you are making multiple repeats and you already know you can do it at tempo, one needs to use their brain and adjust if they are going through multple repeats). Everyone experiences that from the very start of their piano studies. The normal reaction is to stop and recover, it doesn't take that long. People who merely push through that pain and continue on are just being stupid. Sure you might have deadlines to deal with but you need to organise your time more effectively to deal with it, you can't just cram cram cram and then wonder why you have hurt yourself.

I agree that injuries are caused by doing something wrong. That's not what I am arguing against. However, if an injured pianist came to your doorstep and said:
"Lostinidlewonder, please, can you help me? I was so passionate about music and I practised a lot because I wanted to become really good at it and now I am injured and I haven't been able to play even half an hour a day for over a year because the problem does not go away. I would wish for nothing more in the whole world than to be able to play again. I am so depressed because music is my life, what must I do?"
What is this "SOMETHING WRONG"? It really isn't poor technique but rather excessive repetitions . Early beginners I teach have poor technique unavoidably but they don't injure themselves, this should be an extremely interesting point to consider. They don't over practice thus they don't hurt themselves even though they play with poor technique.

Would you answer, as you have written on these forums:
"Go and cry it out. It's you own fault, you are a crap pianist and working stupidly, you have a bad attitude towards your work, you injured yourself because you are a silly person."?
I have taught people with actual medical conditions which impact on their playing, eg: stroke, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries etc. They feel pain even if they don't play the piano but some conditions are worsened by unnecessary physical activity. Many of them quit because there is simply no solution, no magical technical efficiency will improve the pain they experience and it has nothing to do with the piano playing itself. I certainly encourage them to find other activities which bring joy and for a pianist we might find it hard to imagine giving up the piano but honestly there are plenty of wonderful things to get good at in this world and piano is not the only one. Sure I guess we can play extremely basic and simple music with very limited time or play on keyboards which require less effort to produce sound, but this is difficult to accept especially in those who used to play at a higher level and on quality instruments.

Do you think this person then would say:
"Oh thank you so much lostinidlewonder, I am feeling happier about my problem already. Can I be your student?"
Why would they feel happier about their situation? What would cause this happiness and what exact situation are you talking about? My solution simply would be to practice less, choose less demanding repertoire and be smarter about your repeats, quite a simple solution which will I will bravely say will solve all the problems in all cases of those who don't have a preexisting medical condition.

I think it's more likely that they would possibly feel very ashamed and be ten times more afraid to ever ask someone for help again. I think that is some real damage that has been done, because being injured is often associated with shame already for many people; asking for help with something you are ashamed about can feel very vulnerable, and the last thing they need is to fear asking for help even more. And it could have been averted just by being a bit more mindful and compassionate with the words we choose to use.
There is something called tough love and some people need to experience it. The solution for those experiecing non medical related pain from the piano is quite simple, stop your brute force repetitions and listen to your body, when something starts to get tense and hurt, stop! If you cannot follow this simple strategy then its your own damn fault for hurting yourself.

Why study at a music university if you struggle to keep up with the rate of learning? Cramming is not going to help and simply sets you up for a world of pain. Practice method is very important because of this, if you have strong practice method you can get through work much quicker and efficiently. Many universities unfortunately don't care about the efficiency of how you learn your pieces they just care about the end product. This is a huge shame in my opinion and sets up a school of pain. Students are overworked and have to meet deadlines which they barely can manage. But is this really piano playing itself which is the culprit? It seems quite clear to me that the reason is that these students are overworked and over practicing, pushing through pain barriers to meet unrealistic deadlines.

This overworked situation is easy to occur, students are not judged on their practice method just their end products of mastered pieces. University enterance exams should include demonstrating how one would learn an unknown piece of music. Instead they just want to listen to what you have mastered. Some students present pieces they took years to polish up then when they enter university they have to rush that process. Their solution is to work extremely hard, this can be done safely too however many overpractice as the deadlines they need to meet come closer and closer.

It's important to aim to help people, not to kick those who are already down. I do not think your choice of words helps people.
Tough love doesnt use gentle words, you stab the problem right in the heart and get it over and done with. It is absolute stupiditiy to over practice to such an extent that you are pushing through pain barriers then wondering why you have an injury. I will not walk on eggshells on that one, it simply needs to be crushed. Sometimes the solution to deal with the university work load is to over practice, in that case I would really suggest deferring studies. In many universities you can leave for up to 5 years before returning. I would never promote over practicing and dealing with pain, that is just absolute stupidity.

I think there is a risk people who are injured and read your words become more afraid to ask for help. (There are however, many kind and compassionate teachers out there, some of them may be able to help you if you have an injury and will not just scold you, I promise.)
Good then I already give them assistance. If you are too weak and hurt by people telling you off then perhaps you didn't get enough of that as a child. Injury caused by piano playing simply shows me a stupid person who was taught poorly and who has no mind of their own following instructions and ignoring pain. This is silliness and I just don't come across this very much at all. In fact I cannot think of one single student I have ever taught who claims that piano playing is the cause of their pain and asks me to save them!!!

For a more compassionate perspective on injury, I would really recommend you watch the following talk by a pianist who is active in the field of musician's injuries:

I can tell you the sample spaces used are pathetically small. The prevelance in playing-related musculoskeletal disorders in relation to piano playersí playing techniques and practising strategies (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237762933_The_prevelance_if_playing-related_musculoskeletal_disorders_in_relation_to_piano_players'_playing_techniques_and_practising_strategies) claims that in Perth Australia where I come from MSD prevalence rates had been suggested to be 68%. Why didn't they come to me and ask for a sample of data? I could give them a big fat 0% rate. The fact they look at very small spaces with very small amount of people will give terrible statistics. They say the prevelance fo MSD increases if there are exams or competitions nearby but this is an example of the dangers of cramming and poor practice method. The reason why I have never experiences piano injury nor any of my students is because of practice method. When I have a student who cannot avoid injury no matter how good their practice method, they have a medical condition which has nothing to do with the piano itself and is caused by other factors.

Also what % of people actually experience back pain? "Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. (https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/What-is-Chiropractic/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics)
Are those who experience back pain while playing the piano going to blame the piano? The fact they are sitting on a stool for extended periods is a problem for their back pain. But with these poor studies those people who exprience back pain will have to express they are feeling pain while practicing the piano because the very nature of sitting on a chair causes them pain. This really has nothing to do with piano practice but they will be added to the statistics as piano related pain, just idiotic imho.
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Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #36 on: March 22, 2021, 01:19:39 PM »
This rejection of injury potential fails common sense. 

We have a percentage of injury inevitable in every physical human activity.  Every known athlete has been injured, from the recreational jogger to the elite track star.  Many always perform with some small pain, others have had to take time off or even quit altogether.  Hockey players sometimes play with broken bones. 

I think we have an interaction between three factors.

One is how correct the technique is.  Clearly a bad technique contributes to injury.  But even there there can be a conflict between the technique that is most protective of injury and that which produces the best performance.  For example, in golf one can hit the ball farther with a greater angle between hips and shoulders, but the stress on the back is also greater.  Witness Tiger Woods and his multiple back surgeries.  Or watch video of Blair O-Neal - amazing swing, looks perfect, but she's injured.  I think this distinction is part of the idea behind that Ted talk video - that we may have focused too much on the technique that produces the virtuoso playing, but not recognized a need for technique that prevents injury.  The assumption that the two are the same is really just a guess, and probably wrong. 

The second is the genetics or physical makeup of the person.  I am currently injured, unable to lift my left arm above my head.  It is painful to open my car door.  It's not because I lift weights, throw a ball, etc., with my left hand.  According to the X-rays and MRI, it's because the space in my shoulder joint that the nerves and tendon have to pass through is smaller than it should be.  If I'd hurt it playing golf, LIW would have said it's my fault for doing it wrong.  (I didn't).  The fact is if I'd hurt it playing golf, it would have happened whether my swing was biomechanically correct or not.  It's just that it would have happened faster with a bad swing than a good. 

The third thing is the amount and intensity of the work performed.  And this is what really gets piano players, I think.  There's a huge difference between an amateur's casual attempts, whether music or sports, or a serious student putting in the hours at high intensity, whether the motion is correct or not.  The pro's perform much closer to the limits of the human body than most of us, and anytime you're near the limits there is risk.  Baseball pitchers have a limit how many times they can throw hard in a given period.   

The casual amateur may still get hurt, out of bad form, bad genetics, or just sheer bad luck.  But as intensity increases the likelihood goes up. 

Now I'd better quit before I start to approach LIW's long windedness status.   
Tim

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #37 on: March 22, 2021, 02:08:46 PM »
This rejection of injury potential fails common sense. 

We have a percentage of injury inevitable in every physical human activity.  Every known athlete has been injured, from the recreational jogger to the elite track star.  Many always perform with some small pain, others have had to take time off or even quit altogether.  Hockey players sometimes play with broken bones. 
Though many sports exert much more physical impact on ones body than piano ever could or should be. I don't think injury in sports correlates to anything at all in piano playing.

Clearly a bad technique contributes to injury. 
Poor technique itself will not cause injury but excessively practicing and pushing through pain will. There is quite a simple remedy for such things, stop over practicing, stop when you start to feel sore. Unfortunately sometimes the only solution is to choose a different piece because your technique is simply too far away to attain the efficient touch. Some music students might feel trapped into practicing excessive hours to deal with their work load but then it is a practice method efficiency problem rather than anything technical, it is an overextension and over stepping of the mark, being too ambitious. Yes we should push ourselves and challenge ourselves but dabbling with piano playing until you are sore and injured is just being really dumb.

But even there there can be a conflict between the technique that is most protective of injury and that which produces the best performance. 
Practice strategy would be a more correct idea. Technique doesn't have much to do with it. If one wants to produce the best performance during their practice sessions then they have to reevaluate what practice actually means, it certainly doesn't always mean practicing at performance standard.

...we may have focused too much on the technique that produces the virtuoso playing, but not recognized a need for technique that prevents injury. 
I think this is missing the point since it is over practice for extended periods which is the culprit for injury regardless of whether the technique is good or not. Of course with good technique you can suffer more work and with poor technique you will start to feel pain a lot faster, but the two can still cause injury if you pigheadedly play through your pain. If one choose a piece that is very difficult for them and they can only produce it with intense tension while playing, then that situation is simply their own fault applying that as their solution. When time pressured some might simply choose that as a solution because they have no time to soften their approach, but this really is not the pianos fault but the far too short timeline they submit themselves to.

The second is the genetics or physical makeup of the person.  I am currently injured, unable to lift my left arm above my head.  It is painful to open my car door.  It's not because I lift weights, throw a ball, etc., with my left hand.  According to the X-rays and MRI, it's because the space in my shoulder joint that the nerves and tendon have to pass through is smaller than it should be.  If I'd hurt it playing golf, LIW would have said it's my fault for doing it wrong.  (I didn't). 
I would say it is not the pianos fault that you are experiencing pain in the first place so why blame piano playing for the source of pain and injury? Injury CAUSED by piano playing is what I am interested in, any one with no medical problem should never be injured by piano playing, the only way it can happen is by over practicing whether with correct or incorrect technique or submitting to a rough solution of tense playing due to the lack of time to generate a more gentle touch.

The third thing is the amount and intensity of the work performed.  And this is what really gets piano players, I think.  There's a huge difference between an amateur's casual attempts, whether music or sports, or a serious student putting in the hours at high intensity, whether the motion is correct or not.  The pro's perform much closer to the limits of the human body than most of us, and anytime you're near the limits there is risk. 
I don't see a large difference in physical/mental fatigue a long practice session causes whether they are beginners or most advanced. An early beginner can get tired and sore playing simple music just as easy as an advanced pianost can get tired and sore. More advanced pianists might have to work on deadlines which encourage overpracticing so there is a danger there but appropriate time management and sharp practice method can combat this. Pushing through pain because there is just so much work to get through in a short space of time and maintaining practice in such realms, no one should be taught to do such things though I can see why some music students feel they are trapped into doing such things since they are not given any other solution. The fact that over working and over practicing and submitting tense playing to produce the desired sound, that these must be the solution to contend with short time constraints, this all really to me is a sad state of musical education and has nothing to do with the art of playing the piano.

If the deadlines that the higher level pianists are dealing with cause them to overpractice then they simply are biting off more than they can chew or need to improve their practice efficiency. The problem with most music schools is that they never test the rate at which you can learn your music before accepting you as a student. That is a failure on the schools behalf and then forcing these students to over work themselves, this really doesn't produce anything special at all. It does teach you how to work damn hard but if it is going to cause you to overpractice and hurt yourself and not deal with the actual issue at hand that is to improve practice method and practice/playing efficiency, then it is no wonder people hurt themselves. It has nothing to do with the piano but the fact that people are overpracticing trying to meet deadlines. 

Now I'd better quit before I start to approach LIW's long windedness status.   
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Online brogers70

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #38 on: March 22, 2021, 04:43:11 PM »
Teacher A: "Of course you've injured yourself. Your technique is awful and you're too stupid to stop practicing even when your bad technique makes it hurt. What did you expect? It's your own damn fault."

Teacher B: "Good news here. That injury is not an inevitable part of playing the piano. We can work on getting you a more relaxed technique and a better awareness of your body and how and how much to practice to avoid injury."

I know which one I'd want to send a friend to study with.

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #39 on: March 23, 2021, 12:40:27 AM »
Teacher A: "Of course you've injured yourself. Your technique is awful and you're too stupid to stop practicing even when your bad technique makes it hurt. What did you expect? It's your own damn fault."

Teacher B: "Good news here. That injury is not an inevitable part of playing the piano. We can work on getting you a more relaxed technique and a better awareness of your body and how and how much to practice to avoid injury."

I know which one I'd want to send a friend to study with.
Nice little story you made up on your own, if you think it has any relationship to what I was writing about then you are very mistaken. You didn't even read what I wrote since you are too lazy so yeah, good one, make up a little story answer you think solves everything. Simplistic and mindlessly easy. Your teacher B is a medical miracle healer? It is highly amusing you think correct technique will solve medical pain people have. Your teacher B is able to stretch time and allow students who are stressed out and overworked to get through their work efficiently immediately? Highly amusing also since such a process takes time and cannot be fast tracked.
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Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #40 on: March 23, 2021, 02:33:54 PM »
Well, now I'm totally confused about LIWs position.

First I thought he said the injury rate was vastly overrated, based on limited and biased data, and just is really not a problem.

Then it seemed like he was saying that injury does happen but it's always due to bad technique. 

And now it seems it's not bad technique either, it's just practicing too much.

I'm lost. 
Tim

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #41 on: March 23, 2021, 02:55:18 PM »
Well, now I'm totally confused about LIWs position.

First I thought he said the injury rate was vastly overrated, based on limited and biased data, and just is really not a problem.

Then it seemed like he was saying that injury does happen but it's always due to bad technique. 

And now it seems it's not bad technique either, it's just practicing too much.

I'm lost.
Well I stated quite early on: "The fact that a minority get injuries simply demonstrates poor practice method ...." I also elaborated on other factors too after that. I didn't ever say technique is the main source of the problem. I really don't want to repeat myself it's all up there.

If for example you have a look at the paper I posted which is one of the sources of information that the video anacruisis posted used, you will see that they mentioned that the rate of injury increased during examination and performance pressures. This simply causes students to over practice and thus hurt themselves to meet deadlines. I went into detail about factors that surround this situation.

Ultimately I find that piano injury is not from the piano itself but from over practice and overdoing many things in life is not a good idea. If you go to a gym to get fit and overdo the weight lifting you are just going to hurt yourself not do any good. If you do any activity which causes tension and pain and keep doing that you have a high chance you are going to injure yourself. The piano has nothing special about it which will naturally injury anyone who is of healthy body. So it is the act of overdoing something that causes the pain, just sitting on the piano stool for hours on end and not playing the piano will probably leave you quite sore. Which makes ideas like piano related injuries in my mind rather feeble and nothing different from any other activity you over do.
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Offline timothy42b

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #42 on: March 23, 2021, 09:31:16 PM »
Wisdom from my Dad:

A man convinced
against his will
is of the same
opinion still. 
Tim

Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: Scale technique
«Reply #43 on: March 24, 2021, 01:10:48 AM »
I wonder why people are so afraid when there is a disagreement, I guess not everyone enjoys those situations. I tend to question statistics which don't have a large sample space, piano injury at conservatories merely represent a microcosm of overworked students, it is not the demanding technical pieces they play that causes the pain. It is the process of mastering a piece which is causing them pain. If you take any person no matter what skill level and force them through brutal repetitions and encouraging them to push through their pain barriers, you are going to hurt them, so studying overworked conservatory students and thus concluding all advanced pianists suffer injuries is very short sighted.
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