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#26793 - 05/25/00 11:13 AM Firm Fingertips
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
The other day I was stressing a student to play without the final joint "caving in." He shrugged and said, "What difference does it make?" I gave him kind of a generic answer about good technique and developing speed and control, but in truth, I knew I hadn't given him an adequate answer. From his point of view, he plays fine without worrying about firm fingertips. When he does focus on keeping those final joints curved, his playing is weak because he is focusing on a technical aspect rather than a musical one. He is tired of me talking about firm fingertips and I haven't told him anything strong enough to convince him that he must fix this. Ideas?

[This message has been edited by Eric Rockwell (edited 25 May 2000).]

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#26794 - 05/26/00 11:03 AM Re: Firm Fingertips
Audrey Offline
New Member

Registered: 05/11/00
Posts: 9
Loc: Mpls, MN, USA
Hi, I have found a couple of things that have 'worked.' I talk about two male pianists in our church who accompany the choir. One of them sits down and accompanies the choir without firm fingertips. Good playing, but a very mediocre sound.
The other one sits down and accompanies and WOW what a different sound - the reason, the 2nd guy had firm fingertips.
So, I tell my students that for starters, as their ears and listening skills increase, they will be able to hear and tell the difference in the sound without even looking at a person's fingers.
Also, I attend many professional orchestra concerts and sit closer so I can see what the professional pianists do to get the sound they want. I discuss this with my students. Not one of the pros plays with a flat hand or backward-bent fingers joints. Their sound - incredible.
My own personal experience? After returning to studying piano at age 30 with my college professor, I was attempting a Bach piece. I was sooooo frustrated until my teacher said my 2nd finger of my left hand was caving in. After about two weeks of intense concentrated effort to bring the nail joint up-to-par, I finally achieved the sound I wanted without having to concentrate so hard on my finger joint. I felt great!
I also demonstrate a scale played as quickly as I can with caved in nail joints and then with firm nail joints. They can hear the difference - not always the first time, though. Their ear still needs training.
Finally, I tell them that I know what exciting music is coming up in their repertoire and that they won't want to be struggling with this issue, but will be glad that they have conquered it now.
I try to convey to my students the dream 1st because then they devise their own reason to do it.

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#26795 - 05/28/00 10:58 PM Re: Firm Fingertips
Randall Faber Global Moderator Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 03/31/00
Posts: 130
Excellent response, Audrey.

A collapsing finger is unlikely to play at the same dynamic level as the non-collapsing finger(s). That produces uneveness...not only dynamic uneveness, but even rhythmic uneveness. A collapsed fingertip also is unable to effectively carry the transferred arm weight that Audrey mentions in another technique posting. Playing with a collapsed fingertip often results in a "pulling" on the key (producing a thin sound), instead of balanced arm weight and forward thrust.

It is effective to begin with the finger rather flat, and let the finger stroke bring the finger into a curved position. This is a very effective practice technique for slow practice, particularly with an accompanying forward thrust from the arm/elbow. It may also be a good entree to curved fingers for Eric's student.

Sometimes students resist the rounded fingertip because they associate it with tension. We have to be cautious that rounded hand shape and firm fingertips are done with balance, not keybed pressure or rigidity. The above flat-to-curved exercise makes a good remedy.

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#26796 - 06/14/00 09:53 PM Re: Firm Fingertips
Eric Offline
Star Member

Registered: 04/04/00
Posts: 2325
Loc: New York, NY
I had my student read your posts and I think he's becoming convinced. (I guess your word holds a little more weight than mine!) This is the same young man who I mention in another post regarding fingering. He REALLY wants to do things *HIS* way, but he's a great student and I'm sure he'll come around! Thanks for your help.

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