Question for pianists: wrist flexors

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    Nov 20, 2010 5:49 PM GMT
    While doing forearms today with my trainer, I realized that my wrist flexors are MUCH stronger on my left arm than right arm. I do know that wrist flexors are usually stronger than extensors, but I find that my left wrist was doing a lot more flexing than the right forearm. So it got me thinking...

    In piano playing there's really not much that requires wrist extension, at least not when the fingers touch the keyboard.

    There's this passage in Chopin's Heroic Polonaise that requires continuous L hand octaves that used to give me cramps every single time until I reach the E to E flat shift. I haven't played it since I started training but today, I don't get any cramps playing it! And I played the repeat too! icon_razz.gif

    Anybody with a similar pianistic experience with unexpected benefits of weight training?

    Here's a closeup of Artur Rubinstein for those who don't know what I'm talking about:
    (Skip to 3:14)
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    Nov 20, 2010 8:18 PM GMT
    I've always ascribed my shoulders to my dad's genes and 14 years of classical piano training as a kid. Also I can stretch and octave + 2 from thumb to pinky. I think it made me a fast typist early on but probably over-conscious when I feel strain or ache in my wrists. Oh and thick forearms too. Rachmaninoff's 'bell's piece almost killed me along with Malaguena (the one where you've got four bars for 2 hands) and Rhaphsody in Blue (those four measures - you know the ones where the dissonance is so tight it's a toss-up if it is right or not - took my three months to get into my hands). Also was accompanist for Sondheim's Assassins and with him you just throw all reality out the door the music is so complex. Right now I haven't practiced in about ten years. I figure if I get a piano in myliving space it'd be about six months of Hanon to get my clavier well-tempered. icon_smile.gif
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    Nov 20, 2010 9:34 PM GMT
    OK, I was going for benefits of weight training towards piano playing, but the other way round is good too. icon_razz.gif
  • MusicMan87

    Posts: 305

    Nov 20, 2010 10:06 PM GMT
    I noticed a lot of weird things with adding weight training to my playing. As a violinist, my left shoulder is much weaker, as well as my left wrist... Obviously my fingers are strong, but you dont really work those much in workouts haha

    One of my problems is still vibrato, which usually uses a combination of small arm and wrist movements, I'm hoping the weight training will help the endurance and speed of my vibrato a littlicon_lol.gife
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    Nov 20, 2010 10:58 PM GMT
    I tend to do most of my recording in tracks and loops, then stick it all together into a full song. That completely takes all the pain out of pianoing...just record the lowers, record the highers, throw in a drum beat or two, glue them together in the sequencer and be done. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Nov 20, 2010 11:25 PM GMT
    That's exactly what I did with midi, Paul.
    Until I realized that I'm into making my forearms bigger and not carpal tunnel syndrome. icon_razz.gif
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    Nov 21, 2010 5:17 AM GMT
    I would think that strength training wouldn't hurt anything. You do have to think that technique comes from every muscle from the torso up.

    It's about very fine, detailed motor control. Not strength. The muscles/movements need have great agility and dexterity.

    What provides that? Stretching, strengthening, repetition

    I remember the fugue in Beethoven's op.110 always being easier to play after I jacked off with my left handicon_smile.gif go figure.
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    Nov 21, 2010 5:30 AM GMT
    A few years ago I began experiencing arthritic pain at the piano, particularly when spanning an octave + 2 with one hand, but my playing (and forearms!) have unexpectedly improved markedly since starting forearm and grip training about two months ago.
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    Nov 21, 2010 5:51 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidThat's exactly what I did with midi, Paul.
    Until I realized that I'm into making my forearms bigger and not carpal tunnel syndrome. icon_razz.gif
    I would use midi if I had more than one keyboard; but since I only have one, I use the built-in sequencer. The software on the pc is just for finalizing and mastering.

    Plus, no carpal tunnel here. I don't play daily...just about once a week or so at most.
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    Nov 21, 2010 1:09 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 said.

    There's this passage in Chopin's Heroic Polonaise that requires continuous L hand octaves that used to give me cramps every single time until I reach the E to E flat shift. I haven't played it since I started training but today, I don't get any cramps playing it! And I played the repeat too! icon_razz.gif



    I'm not sure why the left hand octaves would give you cramps unless there's too much tension in the wrists. I'm not even sure if weight training helps with piano playing, my piano teachers have never suggested it lol. I'll tell you what DID give me wrist cramps though!



    Skip to 5:42 onwards. There are double octaves in the right and left hand. I probably was tensing too much myself every time I was practicing and performing it.
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    Nov 21, 2010 1:20 PM GMT
    hauptstimme said I remember the fugue in Beethoven's op.110 always being easier to play after I jacked off with my left hand.

    I hope this isn't all I think about the next time I hear the Op. 110.

    Interesting how performance practice affects your perception of the piece.
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    Nov 21, 2010 1:49 PM GMT
    TexDef07 said
    hauptstimme said I remember the fugue in Beethoven's op.110 always being easier to play after I jacked off with my left hand.

    I hope this isn't all I think about the next time I hear the Op. 110.

    Interesting how performance practice affects your perception of the piece.


    After the recapitulation of the Aria and it goes into inversions.....I do get a little rowdy.
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    Nov 21, 2010 1:50 PM GMT
    Gbob said
    Skip to 5:42 onwards. There are double octaves in the right and left hand. I probably was tensing too much myself every time I was practicing and performing it.


    I get the same thing every time I try the Saint-Saens too! icon_razz.gif
    Amazing performance BTW.

    What I really do look forwards with strength training is more stamina to play left-hand only pieces. (Often I get so tired for long pieces that I cheat with my right hand)
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:08 PM GMT
    http://www.thefundamentalaction.com/thewholearmaction.html
    This page (with a video) tells me I should strengthen my shoulder more and keep my elbow strong, and not use the forearm so much. And Rubinstein actually demonstrates it well (in the repeat where he's in profile).
  • Fit4LifeKris

    Posts: 7

    Nov 21, 2010 2:18 PM GMT
    A text that I found later in my piano life was Seymour Fink's "Mastering Piano Technique". Fink goes into great detail to explain the inner workings of muscles and joints and exercises to aid in strengthening and execution. You can pick it up for less than $20 and it's well worth it.


    http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Piano-Technique-Students-Performers/dp/0931340462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1290348690&sr=8-1


    Happy playing everyone!
    -Kris
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:23 PM GMT
    The Fink text is great.

    -Actually somewhere in my mess/library of literature I have a paper Rubinstein wrote on piano technique. Extremely interesting.
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:27 PM GMT
    hauptstimme said I have a paper Rubinstein wrote on piano technique.

    Did Rubinstein suggest the method you use to practice the OP. 110?
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:36 PM GMT
    TexDef07 said
    hauptstimme said I have a paper Rubinstein wrote on piano technique.

    Did Rubinstein suggest the method you use to practice the OP. 110?


    Mentioned none of that, but I have had many discussions with my fellow pianist friends that; We've actually at one point masturbated in the practice rooms. That's devotion!
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:44 PM GMT
    hauptstimme said We've actually at one point masturbated in the practice rooms.

    While working on the "Appassionata?"
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:47 PM GMT
    TexDef07 said
    hauptstimme said We've actually at one point masturbated in the practice rooms.

    While working on the "Appassionata?"


    Haha, actually at one point for me was the 2nd movmt of Ravel G major concerto! It's a very sexual piece of music!
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:49 PM GMT
    hauptstimme said
    TexDef07 said
    hauptstimme said We've actually at one point masturbated in the practice rooms.

    While working on the "Appassionata?"


    Haha, actually at one point for me was the 2nd movmt of Ravel G major concerto! It's a very sexual piece of music!


    I would have thought more so when you are playing the LH concerto. icon_razz.gif
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:49 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 said
    Gbob said
    Skip to 5:42 onwards. There are double octaves in the right and left hand. I probably was tensing too much myself every time I was practicing and performing it.


    I get the same thing every time I try the Saint-Saens too! icon_razz.gif
    Amazing performance BTW.

    What I really do look forwards with strength training is more stamina to play left-hand only pieces. (Often I get so tired for long pieces that I cheat with my right hand)


    Oh sorry! I think I confused you, that's not me playing on there lol. There is a version of me playing the concerto on Youtube but I was too emabarassed to upload that one. Just thought I'd clear that up!
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    Nov 21, 2010 2:53 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 said
    hauptstimme said
    TexDef07 said
    hauptstimme said We've actually at one point masturbated in the practice rooms.

    While working on the "Appassionata?"


    Haha, actually at one point for me was the 2nd movmt of Ravel G major concerto! It's a very sexual piece of music!


    I would have thought more so when you are playing the LH concerto. icon_razz.gif

    Yes. The right hand is left free for a reason.
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    Nov 21, 2010 8:35 PM GMT
    i find going to the gym really helped me with John Cage 4'33" .

    but it is probable that increased strength in forearm will give you added endurance at the keyboard. I've never experienced it though. Any specific problems at the piano were solved at the piano.

    hahaha @ op 110 !!
    talk of sticky fingers.
















  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 21, 2010 11:45 PM GMT
    xassantex saidi find going to the gym really helped me with John Cage 4'33" .

    but it is probable that increased strength in forearm will give you added endurance at the keyboard. I've never experienced it though. Any specific problems at the piano were solved at the piano.

    hahaha @ op 110 !!
    talk of sticky fingers.



















    Hahaha. . . .
    True Story: One of my mentors played the Cage during her wedding ceremony.