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Topic: tension while lifting up your forearm - Barbara Lister Sink, Pianolab etc..  (Read 560 times)

Offline temudzin

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Hello!

I have a question regarding the lifting of the forearm in order to prepare the arm for playing, something similar to what B.Lister Sink teaches as a "basic stroke"
&index=8&ab_channel=AK, or the guy from youtube channel Piano lab teaches here:
&t=71s&ab_channel=PIANOLAB

Whenever this works, it works really well and I can play wtih total ease. However, I started feeling some pain and tension in the lower part of the forearm just when I lift my arm and I have no idea how to lift my arm now. I don't have to play, just the lifting itself is problematic. Does anyone have any idea on which muscels should I use for that or how to correctly do it without tensing up my forearms?

Offline lelle

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The muscles in your forearms move the wrists and fingers. Ergo, if there is tension in the forearm, there will be tension in the wrists and/or fingers (don't forget the thumb) somewhere. Can you check?

When you say lower part of the forearm, do you mean the part closest to the hand, or "under" i e same side of the forearm as the palm of your hand?

I would not recommend self teaching this sort of thing via video/forum however. A good teacher will be much more helpful and safe.

Offline temudzin

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The muscles in your forearms move the wrists and fingers. Ergo, if there is tension in the forearm, there will be tension in the wrists and/or fingers (don't forget the thumb) somewhere. Can you check?

yes, I know, that is the problem. I have tension there whithout even playing, just by lifting the arm into playing position.

When you say lower part of the forearm, do you mean the part closest to the hand, or "under" i e same side of the forearm as the palm of your hand?
The palm side of the forearm, between the elbow and the wrist..
I would not recommend self teaching this sort of thing via video/forum however. A good teacher will be much more helpful and safe.

Offline temudzin

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The muscles in your forearms move the wrists and fingers. Ergo, if there is tension in the forearm, there will be tension in the wrists and/or fingers (don't forget the thumb) somewhere. Can you check?

When you say lower part of the forearm, do you mean the part closest to the hand, or "under" i e same side of the forearm as the palm of your hand?

I would not recommend self teaching this sort of thing via video/forum however. A good teacher will be much more helpful and safe.

Ok I did the quoting wrond lol

Offline keypeg

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This may not at all answer your question.  Just some general thoughts.  I studied that video and a few related ones some years ago.  I started to consider what actually lifts what.  In the demo, what we tend to see is the forearm going up and down from the elbow hinge.  The video below also seems to show that.  but in actual fact, there would be a smaller movement from the upper arm which in turn is attached to the "shoulders" and various things going on there in the upper torso.  If I try to literally move my forearm up and down  from the elbow joint, picturing that my upper arm is sort of static like a wall holding up a door hinge, there is going to be tension and it will be unnatural.  In the Lister Sink video we do see the arm moved up and forward toward the keyboard and at the point the upper arm has been moved - but will we end up thinking that this "elbows slightly in front of the body" is a static position?

Further - if my arms are moving about, what is happening in the body, the upper body, the support in the feet - the back, torso, and seat?  Can we create tension by dividing ourselves into separate parts?  In fact, can "relaxation" be taken too far?  What do we see when the gentleman in the 2nd video plays naturally at the end - if we put the video down to 25% tempo?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Why not lift you hand from the wrist? It need only be a very slight movement. From the elbow is more for very loud notes (but even that can be produced from the wrist if needed). There seems to be an utterly irrational ideology promoted in the video that the wrist should be unrelated to lifting the hand.
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Offline ego0720

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Thanks for linking the video. It helped me identify this as another criterion in the art of piano.

I wanted to chime a tangent point. I studied martial art for a little bit and I do something that I took for granted. Itís building the strength of my fingers. I remember glancing in a manual for piano someone writing about proper finger stretching and warming up. It needlessly doesnít have to be complicated and I know I do this periodically during my practice. I pull back on my four fingers to stretch them (then the thumb) with elbows tucked in. Then I do finger grasping which is like bicep curls for the fingers with straight arm. The magic is 12 in any one position. Arms forward palm down 12. Arms forward palm face each other 12. Arms side palm down 12 / palm face front 12. Arms up palm inward 12 / forward 12. Finger muscles naturally curl in so flexibility is lost naturally so I follow with more finger/ thumb stretch for 10-15 seconds (ideally 30 seconds but I donít always do it that long). It builds up strength for power to hit those keys and feels really good during any practice session.  Itís a must for general finger health (but also helps from shoulders to wrist). I do it whenever but roughly 20-30 minutes.  I remember a professional pianist documenting that they practiced so much they needed therapy where needles were inserted into their wrist bc they developed carpel tunnel at young age early twenties. I personally felt that proper stretching and power grip may have avoided this bc when practicing piano so long you develop like birds talon grip or painful wrist pain. I know I didnít answer OP question but their video opened up a new topic for me to teach my kids.

Offline keypeg

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Why not lift you hand from the wrist? It need only be a very slight movement. From the elbow is more for very loud notes (but even that can be produced from the wrist if needed). There seems to be an utterly irrational ideology promoted in the video that the wrist should be unrelated to lifting the hand.

There is an inherent problem with advice on physical motion being given in words.  You will picture a given thing when you say it, and the person reading it will picture something else and do that other thing.  If you saw what they are doing, you would see what is going on and correct it.  Many things can go wrong.

By chance, before I had my teacher, I read the "lift your wrist" idea and tried it how I understood it. That made a mess that took some time get behind and solve.  For one thing, if you "lift your wrist", then if you do it properly, other parts of the arm will move, or in the very least, they are not held back because in your mind you are "only supposed to lift your wrist".  These days if I do the motion, I also see small motions in the elbow and weight goes in and out of my fingers.  That is a far cry from what I did originally based on that cue.

The advice is probably not wrong, but how it gets interpreted and executed might be.  None of us have seen the OP play which is the first thing a teacher would want to do.

Offline temudzin

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This may not at all answer your question.  Just some general thoughts.  I studied that video and a few related ones some years ago.  I started to consider what actually lifts what.  In the demo, what we tend to see is the forearm going up and down from the elbow hinge.  The video below also seems to show that.  but in actual fact, there would be a smaller movement from the upper arm which in turn is attached to the "shoulders" and various things going on there in the upper torso.  If I try to literally move my forearm up and down  from the elbow joint, picturing that my upper arm is sort of static like a wall holding up a door hinge, there is going to be tension and it will be unnatural.  In the Lister Sink video we do see the arm moved up and forward toward the keyboard and at the point the upper arm has been moved - but will we end up thinking that this "elbows slightly in front of the body" is a static position?

Further - if my arms are moving about, what is happening in the body, the upper body, the support in the feet - the back, torso, and seat?  Can we create tension by dividing ourselves into separate parts?  In fact, can "relaxation" be taken too far?  What do we see when the gentleman in the 2nd video plays naturally at the end - if we put the video down to 25% tempo?

Yes, makes sense. Today I was actually trying out different ways of lifting the arm and might have been doing that too much in an isolated way...Perhaps I should be more aware of my back/muscles?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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There is an inherent problem with advice on physical motion being given in words.  You will picture a given thing when you say it, and the person reading it will picture something else and do that other thing.  If you saw what they are doing, you would see what is going on and correct it.  Many things can go wrong.
Just like the video is misleading because it doesn't have to be done all the time. My description that lifting the fingers can be done by the wrist is clear, it's intention is not to teach thoroughly (which should be obvious as my response was quite short) but to make one aware.

I said it is a small movement not some ridiculous angles. My comment is good enough to make students here realise that lifting the hand isn't just done with the elbow nor is that exaggerated motion require as these videos try to encourage. I don't care if people misinterpret, we are not here to give free lessons or write a thesis.

By chance, before I had my teacher, I read the "lift your wrist" idea and tried it how I understood it. That made a mess that took some time get behind and solve.  For one thing, if you "lift your wrist", then if you do it properly, other parts of the arm will move, or in the very least, they are not held back because in your mind you are "only supposed to lift your wrist".  These days if I do the motion, I also see small motions in the elbow and weight goes in and out of my fingers.  That is a far cry from what I did originally based on that cue.
Really it isn't a complicated technique we make that motion when patting a dog or waving, wrapping fingers on a surface or so many other non piano movements. People should realise how the wrist moves in a nautral way. Try to play fast repeated chords pivoting at your elbow to withdraw the fingers and one will see how stupid and utterly ineficient that idea is.

Again I don't indent to support my writing with diagrams, videos, musical context to teach, that is absolutely unnecessary as I am not getting paid for such time invested. Offering opposing views to the video above is all that really matters to encourage experimentation otherwise.


The advice is probably not wrong, but how it gets interpreted and executed might be.
It is not "probably not" wrong it certainly is not wrong. The videos can be utterly interpreted wrong too as there is no actual musical context.

None of us have seen the OP play which is the first thing a teacher would want..
To me it doesn't matter the videos posted is all that needs to be scrutinised and since the wrist can do the job the advice in that video is put to question.
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Offline brogers70

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There is an inherent problem with advice on physical motion being given in words.  You will picture a given thing when you say it, and the person reading it will picture something else and do that other thing.  If you saw what they are doing, you would see what is going on and correct it.  Many things can go wrong.

Yes, indeed. A few years ago I was playing some arpeggios for my teacher and she said, "No, you're doing it wrong; it will be smoother if you do X,Y, and Z with your wrist." I did what she said. Still wrong. So she had me get up and sit down in a spot where I'd have a good view of the angles of her wrists and she demonstrated. Then I went and did what she had done, and the problem was fixed. BUT...then I said "Now I see what I have to do is X', Y', and Z' with the wrist." And she said, "No, no, no you've got it wrong, you need to do X, Y, and Z." Even though I had done what I called X' Y' and Z' and when she just saw the motions I used she saw them as correct. I think what was happening is that I (retired MD)  have a very concrete way of interpreting descriptions of body movements, whereas she was, I think, describing how the movement felt to her from the inside. I learned not to put in my own words what I was doing, and just to watch her demonstrations.

Offline keypeg

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A good description, Brogers.  It took a bit of time for my teacher and I to sort out some of this, esp. since I was the only on-line student at that time.  One thing he told me is that different people will feel a sensation in a different area while doing the same thing.  One time I did the opposite of what he had said, because I sensed this thing, and at that point it looked correct and sounded correct to him, and it felt comfortable for me.

One exercise we sometimes did was to watch clips from lessons we see on-line.  Often the teacher will demonstrate what he is saying to do, but then plays some snippet of music to show how easy it is, and at that point, he moves his normal way while saying "See how this makes it easier?"  I was told "Watch what the teacher does when he plays normally."  Often it was not the same.  The teacher may believe he is doing what he just demonstrated, but natural playing of a pro us much too subtle and varied.

Offline ranjit

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Yes, indeed. A few years ago I was playing some arpeggios for my teacher and she said, "No, you're doing it wrong; it will be smoother if you do X,Y, and Z with your wrist." I did what she said. Still wrong. So she had me get up and sit down in a spot where I'd have a good view of the angles of her wrists and she demonstrated. Then I went and did what she had done, and the problem was fixed. BUT...then I said "Now I see what I have to do is X', Y', and Z' with the wrist." And she said, "No, no, no you've got it wrong, you need to do X, Y, and Z." Even though I had done what I called X' Y' and Z' and when she just saw the motions I used she saw them as correct. I think what was happening is that I (retired MD)  have a very concrete way of interpreting descriptions of body movements, whereas she was, I think, describing how the movement felt to her from the inside. I learned not to put in my own words what I was doing, and just to watch her demonstrations.
I have learned to take the "spirit, not the letter" of what my teacher says, as well. Sometimes, I observe something which my teacher doesn't say explicitly, or even misrepresents in terms of what's actually happening. I've realized that a lot of the explanation comes from a specific framework and vocabulary, and is often about how it feels, rather than the actual movement. This is true for most piano teachers, and I think it might even be "for the better" because understanding how a movement should feel is really what's necessary to learn how to perform it. Sometimes a healthy amount of push from the part of the student is also useful rather than the teacher guiding every interaction -- if something, to me, feels more efficient than what my teacher suggests, I have realized that I've been right more often than not, so I've learned to trust that. A teacher can't really know your innermost sensations and way of thinking as well as you do yourself.

For one thing, if you "lift your wrist", then if you do it properly, other parts of the arm will move, or in the very least, they are not held back because in your mind you are "only supposed to lift your wrist".  These days if I do the motion, I also see small motions in the elbow and weight goes in and out of my fingers.  That is a far cry from what I did originally based on that cue.
Nowadays, I'm very aware of my upper arm and find that that's where a lot of where lifting the hand comes from. I found practicing lifting the hand and keep the wrist straight and hand naturally curved while trying to activate as few muscles in the lower arm/hand to be very useful to understand where the stability comes from. I feel a sensation in the biceps of the hand or right above and outside the elbow in the upper arm. I find that the arm can be held up very easily for long periods of time when the balance of tension in those biceps is perfect.

Offline keypeg

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..... I don't care if people misinterpret, we are not here to give free lessons or write a thesis.
....
Students come to places like this to learn, and if someone has the title of teacher, they will take what they read as advice, and will follow it.  I see by what you write now that you intended to counter the Lister-Sink video, and that is well taken.  But it came across as advice of what to do.  Such advice should not be followed - nor was it intended to be followed - because such following can create a mess.

Fwiw, learning to move from the elbow happened to be the trigger for getting the whole mechanism to start working better - those happened to be the right cues for me.  But that was also while working with a teacher. 

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Students come to places like this to learn, and if someone has the title of teacher, they will take what they read as advice, and will follow it.  I see by what you write now that you intended to counter the Lister-Sink video, and that is well taken.  But it came across as advice of what to do.  Such advice should not be followed - nor was it intended to be followed - because such following can create a mess.
So first you say my advice is "probably correct" now you say it shouldn't be followed and think you know my intentions? Are you bored?

My advice is simply to encourage other considerations and that is exactly what it did, it is not a detailed description of what to do. Is your definition of what you think advice is so important?

No where in this entire thread does anyone explain technique in a way that leaves no confusion, generalised words and parts of body cannot ever completely explain what one feels or exactly how one does something, so your complaint about confusion is just irrelevant because encouragement to investigate is all that is required and feasibly possible.

 Does all advice need to be pages long with videos, pictures, actual musical context to explain anything and everything on here, to ensure confusion is limited? Don't be crazy. I presented what I wanted in a clear manner and if there are actual questions that come from that it can go further. In any case no one can teach technique just in words or even videos without actual musical context and a specific person under examination.
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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One time I did the opposite of what he had said, because I sensed this thing, and at that point it looked correct and sounded correct to him, and it felt comfortable for me.
A "thing" wow too confusing what are you talking about, don't confuse students please write much more accurate to leave no confusion. Are you suggesting students should do the opposite of teachers instructions? Wow.

/end keypeg type critique
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Offline ego0720

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A gentle reminder to keep it civil.  Appreciate all the tips & helps.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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How is it being uncivil, just because there are people disagreeing with one another? Everyone expresses themselves in a different manner, we are not all clones. If I feel someone is being irrational I will point it out and especially when they apply one condition for me and not the same condition for others or themselves!
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Offline keypeg

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A gentle reminder to keep it civil.  Appreciate all the tips & helps.
Thank you.  It's the usual sarcastic pushback which I suppose either leads to intimidation or fights.  What's missing, as usual, is trying to meet and understand.  I'm not continuing that conversation.  My response to the original question, addressed to the asker, stays fwiw.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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No sarcasm at all it just reveals what you are doing, if you don't like it you should edit your responses more appropriately.
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Offline lelle

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yes, I know, that is the problem. I have tension there whithout even playing, just by lifting the arm into playing position.

The palm side of the forearm, between the elbow and the wrist..

Do you always have tension there, or just when trying to lift your hand the way illustrated in the videos?

 

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