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The problematic pinky (Read 483 times)

Offline jannam

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The problematic pinky
« on: July 14, 2021, 03:42:49 PM »
Hello,

I have a problem with my right hand pinky that I'm trying to identify. Whenever I use my right hand pinky, I feel tension and even pain. Because I cannot identify the problem, I also cannot find any resources to help me. I have had a few different professional teachers over the past three years and none of them could figure out what the problem is because apparently there's nothing obviously wrong with my technique.

Whenever I look for resources on pinky problems, I find stuff on flying and collapsing. My pinky doesn't fly and it doesn't collapse. It's well-arched and I lay it down using the weight of my arm just like I do with all the other fingers. I try to keep my forearm aligned with my pinky. Yet, there's inexplicable tension going on.

I am not really asking anyone to diagnose me. However, and this is the point I'm trying to get at, I was wondering if maybe some of you might know what other issues one might have with the pinky, other than flying and collapsing.

Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions :)

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #1 on: July 14, 2021, 04:46:08 PM »
Trying playing so that the pinky finger is not arched - but more flat.
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Online lostinidlewonder

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #2 on: July 14, 2021, 10:14:59 PM »
Whenever I use my right hand pinky, I feel tension and even pain. Because I cannot identify the problem, I also cannot find any resources to help me.
You need to be more specific, what kind of passages of music are causing you problems with your pinky? Is there anything at all you can play with your pinky that doesn't cause pain? Your situation might simply be hopeless but you need to explain what you can and can't do. Simply saying using your pinky always causes pain, no one can help you with that one.
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Offline anacrusis

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #3 on: July 14, 2021, 11:32:17 PM »
If you feel tension, you are likely to be tensing something. You can be tense even if your pinky doesn't fly or collapse. Maybe you are tensing your finger or somewhere in your arm? Can you check if your arm stays loose when you hold down the key with your pinky?

I have also seen many cases of people being tense in their neck or shoulder and experiencing referred pain in their hands or arms because of that due to pinched nerves. I had a case of shoulder tension causing wrist pain many years ago. My girlfriend had a similar issue that was likely the thoracic outlet (neck area) causing trouble down in her hands.

Online quantum

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #4 on: July 15, 2021, 09:22:08 AM »
I try to keep my forearm aligned with my pinky.

As you describe it, this does not seem like a natural position for the pinky to be in. 

If you let your hand naturally fall on the keys, the pinky does not tend to place itself exactly in line with the forearm.  It slightly abducts away from the 4th finger.  As you stretch to reach an octave it abducts to a greater extent.  Even in a closed 5 finger position, keeping the pinky in line with the forearm seems like an unnatural position, that would probably cause difficulties in articulation.

Trying playing so that the pinky finger is not arched - but more flat.


Yes. 

For most people, the pinky would be the shortest finger, and does not require as much of an arch.



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Offline jannam

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 04:09:16 PM »
I am most thankful to all of you for your replies. Arm tension has definitely been something that I've struggled with and it has mostly resulted from the mental strain caused by the injury.

I think I am nearing the end of the struggle and I thought I'd share my finding in case someone happens to find this thread one day.

For me, the root of the trouble was the fact that I had never learned to use my pinky properly. I had always kept it in a weird position where it was arched alright but completely tilted. This spring, I began to work on this issue and tried everything. I found that I had to rebuild the entire balance of my hand. Each finger counts when it comes to keeping the hand balanced. If you use one finger incorrectly, the balance of your entire hand is going to suffer.

Now for the solution: a very slight, soft, outward motion during key attack (when using the pinky on it's own). This helps me to release the necessary and useful tension of the arm and finger. Nothing exaggerated, of course, because exaggeration creates tension. It needs to be almost invisible. The reason the motion is outward is because this allows the pinky to rely on the strength and support of the arm, which aligns itself with the pinky and guides it.

No, the pinky is not always in line with the arm, but there are lots of situations where it's the only healthy way to play.

Thank you everyone for the stimulating ideas :).

Offline Bob

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #6 on: July 21, 2021, 10:19:16 PM »
What does your pinkie do when it's not in use?  Is it relaxed or sticking up?  I've been noticing that on my left vs. right pinkies.  The left hand seems to have more tension so the pinkie sticks out when I'm trying to play faster.  The right doesn't.
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Offline liszt123

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Re: The problematic pinky
«Reply #7 on: July 29, 2021, 03:47:38 AM »
I'd recommend practicing major scales with a quarter on the back of both of your hands. Make sure to relax your wrists, and try not to let the quarter fall off while playing at a moderate tempo. To improve finger strength (especially on the pinky), maybe get a Gripmaster Hand Strengthener? My teacher made me practice like this when I was younger, and it really helped a lot :)!