Piano Forum



Beethoven as Improviser? - Interview with Konstantin Scherbakov, part 2
In this second part of our interview with Konstantin Scherbakov about his Beethoven celebrations during 2020, we talk about Liszt's Symphony transcriptions and the improvisational aspect in Beethoven's music. Read more >>

Topic: Practicing and injury.  (Read 965 times)

Offline neeeel

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 1
Practicing and injury.
on: July 28, 2021, 06:33:24 PM
I have been playing piano for a few months now, and learned a couple of Bach inventions. I want to improve my technique so I was looking at exercises, scales, etc to do this. Last night I did some parallel sets, which is just playing multiple sets of, eg C-D-E with first three fingers of right hand, or multiple sets of half scales or scales. It seemed to go fine, but by the time I went to bed, my right shoulder was stiff and sore at the back, and my thumb hurts when I raise or lower it.

So my question is, what did I do wrong, how did I hurt myself so badly just from doing 10-15 minutes of parallel sets? I have heard that you can damage yourself quite badly from practicing incorrectly, so what is the correct way to proceed, and how did I cause so much damage from so little time?

Offline lelle

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1584
Re: Practicing and injury.
Reply #1 on: July 28, 2021, 10:55:24 PM
If you are stiff and sore there is tension in your playing. The goal is to learn to play while staying very relaxed and supple in your body (hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, you name it). But it's difficult and not really safe to diagnose technical issues via a forum. The best would be if you could find a knowledgeable teacher who could help you in person.

Offline arithmetic

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
Re: Practicing and injury.
Reply #2 on: October 25, 2021, 09:54:29 AM
make sure your back is always straight. even when your not practising. Do some back strengthening exercises and shoulder stretches for thirty seconds each

Offline arithmetic

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
Re: Practicing and injury.
Reply #3 on: October 25, 2021, 03:35:46 PM
Poor posture can put strain on nerves which can cause pain. been there, still there and i wish i had listened to my teacher ten years
go.

Offline anacrusis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 612
Re: Practicing and injury.
Reply #4 on: October 26, 2021, 08:59:33 PM
Poor posture can put strain on nerves which can cause pain. been there, still there and i wish i had listened to my teacher ten years
go.

That happened to me in the past. I was massively helped by the Alexander Technique.

Offline arda152

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 21
Re: Practicing and injury.
Reply #5 on: November 20, 2021, 12:16:11 AM
Well, you have the power in your jaws to bite off your fingers like a carrot (if you aim between two bones) and that takes even shorter than 10 minutes. So your body has lots of power that it can use against itself...

What I learned from my teacher was to make a list of few key points in the body. You found some of them already yourself. Start with them and go mentally through it when you are doing the exercises. Are these points relaxed? Stop if you feel pain and change the motion. If you cannot concentrate on the body, then you are playing too fast at an early stage.

But maybe all of this has another reason:
Mindlessly repeating "note sets" is a very easy and effective way to get an injury, because you shut down creative thinking and listening. Your mind wanders away and you end up not paying attention to the sound/naturalness of what you are doing. So find some pieces with these things you want to work on. Working on musical stuff will always be more interesting, so you it will be much easier to catch bad movements. If you are looking for suggestions, write exactly what technique you were looking for and I will search something for you :)

Offline jimf12

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 76
Re: Practicing and injury.
Reply #6 on: November 22, 2021, 03:52:12 PM

But maybe all of this has another reason:
Mindlessly repeating "note sets" is a very easy and effective way to get an injury, because you shut down creative thinking and listening. Your mind wanders away and you end up not paying attention to the sound/naturalness of what you are doing. So find some pieces with these things you want to work on. Working on musical stuff will always be more interesting, so you it will be much easier to catch bad movements. If you are looking for suggestions, write exactly what technique you were looking for and I will search something for you :)

Amen!   My teacher advocates a great deal of practice time toward technique, and I spend 30+ minutes a day on scales/arpeggios etc..    But what keeps this from being mindless is the emphasis on making music even with something as basic as this.     With a 4 octave arpeggio for example, end it with a decrescendo on the last octave and lift the hands off as if finishing a piece.    Scales should have a pulse, every fourth note slightly accented and ended with a set of chord progressions that makes it musical.   Etc...    I used to just fly through things, I would do sets of apreggios for example where I would just mindlessly repeat and repeat.    Those were the "note sets" as you said.   Focusing on the sound I am creating and making it a little musical piece helps keep these from just being mindless finger wagging.    With scales, mix it up.    Dotted rhythms, polyrhythms, staccato ....
 
One of my favorites with scales is two octaves HT up, then two octaves contrary motion (RH up, LH down), then two octaves contrary motion the other way (RH down, LH up) getting you back to where you were when you started the contrary, then two octaves up, then two down, then two contrary, two more contrary, and then finish with 2 down.  Throwing in the contrary motion not only mixes it up and makes it a little more interesting, but it doubles the work in one set.    Also creating exercises out of tricky parts of a piece you are working on is an excellent way to hone your technique without mindless note sets. 
 
Consequently, my technique has improved and I'm able to spend the time on the basics that I need to without my mind wandering, and (knock on wood) I have avoided injury despite my practice time exceeding 2 hours a day.   
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert