Thursday, 13 November 2008


I have just pulled a weird little muscle in my hand attempting to manage a particularly big and difficult chord. It hurts. It also explains where that weird pain I had in my hand the other day came from. RSI, here I come! O Come O Come Emmanuel, go away!

So how does one exercise and stretch that muscle in the dip in the hand between back of hand and wrist? Should I be playing more studies? Should I put healing things on my hand? What? I have just deployed a tubi-grip... Should I just stop being stupid and over-ambitious (although I don't see how I can play this chord without being over-ambitious - my hands aren't very big)?

Humph. Not impressed.


Drake said...


I have never had any problems with awkward notes ... but then, thanks to the Marfan's, I have "Arachnodactillia" ... very long slender fingers, perfect for piano.

What I can tell you though, is that it would most likely be a tendon that has gotten pulled or hurt. Ten to one "Tendonitis". Pain pills usually contain anti-inflamatories, so that should help it recover but if it persists, you could see a doctor for some anti-inflamatories.

All the strength of your hand, comes from the muscle in your arm, between your elbow and wrist. There is no actual muscles in your hand. The muscle in your arm, pulls on the tendons in your hand and fingers and so causing them to move, so the strength of your hand is dependent on how hard the muscle can contract the tendons. Any form of exercise of this muscle, should strengthen your fingers, however I would avoid that until the tendon is recovered.

Hmm... I wonder. I have a piece that I used to play over and over, to exercise the flexibility of my fingers and to train my fingers. I might actually be able to record it for you, granted my fingers don't do the "Unreuly dance" as they do as of late, due to the wrist problems.

I am not trying to act like a music teacher tho :D Far from it and you know that ;D I just found that the particular piece, gives quite good exercise for my fingers.

I had taken piano lessons up until Gr 2 when I was about 9/10. Then, my teacher found something rather interesting. Usually, she would play the piece that I would have to exercise, before I left. I would come back and be able to play the piece. The one day, my teacher was in a rush, so she just gave me the sheet music and wasn't able to play it for me. When I went back for my next lesson, I couldn't play it...

All the while, I had been playing my pieces by hearing and never actually reading the sheet music.

My brain seems to work wrong way around... I used to struggle a lot with learning difficulties in school as I am able to learn by example and practical experience but not by theory.

My Piano teacher was willing to try and teach me further, but we kept on getting stuck with the theory. When I am singing, reading music is fine...but as soon as I try to apply the same principle to the piano, it almost always flops. My brain can only play what I can hear in my head... I don't know wether this makes any sense to you, as it still baffles me too...

Where one of your students or your self, understand a piece by looking at the sheet music, my brain does the reverse... It understands the piece by what it sounds like and no matter how hard I try, it keeps on saying "You want me to do what?!" when I try to get it to follow sheet music.

I could most likely write sheet music from what I play but I can't play music from what I read...

Abi said...

I am very jealous of your long fingers, although not of the associated problems. I always thought that it could be fun to be born with six fingers on each hand - that would give me a bit more versatility. Had that happened, though, I expect that they would have removed the extra fingers, and I would be resentful.

There are actually some muscles in the hand (I just googled it), but none where I hurt. It has to be the tendon or ligament. I must have damaged stuff round there when I broke my wrist - it has not been as strong since. Thanks for pointing out the problem with my argument! Maybe a tendon caught on a bony bit on the way past and pinged. That's what it felt like, anyway!

Anyway, my plan doesn't include not playing the organ, as there are things I must learn, and I have to play on Sunday in church. What I shall do is re-write the passage which is trying to hurt me (I was making so much progress, as well...) and try to avoid moving passages in which I play four notes at the same time with my right hand (see - it is a Proper Injury, sustained while doing Real Practice). There is plenty I can practice without that, including left hand/pedal together. Bugger. It has just occurred to me that O Come all ye Faithful hurt me a while ago, and I must be careful with that, too.

I do have a book full of exercises. I tend to get enthusiastic for a while, then forget about it for a much longer while. They are good exercises, though. I kid myself that preparing hymns for each Sunday is enough, along with the occasional voluntary. And now I suffer for it!

I know somebody else who did a very similar thing with learning to play the piano. He wishes that his piano teacher had taken him back to basics and made him learn the notes (which I am actually trying to make my baby sister do whenever she gets too close to a piano in my vicinity), but I can see that reading music is probably similar to reading itself - some people just have conceptual problems which make it very difficult for them to understand what they see and translate it into action. Like dyslexia.

I find that I don't always know what something is going to sound like until I play it. I think that a lot of my playing is by ear, it's just that I have learned the music by playing it from something written down. I am lucky in that I know what most commonly-used hymns sound like now, so it's only the harmonies I have to learn each week. Mostly. You know, you are highlighting weaknesses in my playing. Playing by ear is great, but I need to pay more attention to the music when that is what I am supposed to be doing. So much to do!

Thanks for your comment - it is very helpful!

Drake said...

Not at all :D

I actually learnt something too hehe.

The three middle fingers works with elongated tendons from the fore-arm muscle while the pinky and thumb, actually has their own muscles in the hand...which makes logical sense actually DOH!

I actually do have numerical dyslexia...but not alphanumerical, and obviously music dyslexia it seems :D.