Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 571 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Diana, and she writes:
“I’m struggling with keeping all fingers on the keyboard”
V: Has this, Ausra, ever been a problem for you? Keeping all the fingers on the keyboard?
A: No, it hasn’t. Have you had such a problem?
V: Sure! When I was little. I remember that when I first started playing keyboard or piano, it wasn’t very obvious to me that I should keep all the fingers on the keyboard.
A: But what do you mean? How can you play without keeping all the fingers on the keyboard?
V: For example, your thumbs could be outside of the keyboard, you see, kids play like that usually at first if their teachers don’t correct them.
V: What about you? Did you always have a perfect posture?
A: Yes, I think I was quite natural at the keyboard. Probably because of the structure of my hand, too.
V: How is your hand structure different from mine?
A: Just like J. S. Bach’s. I’m of course kidding, but you know, many years ago, before going to the United States, I worked at one private school for three years and taught piano there. And I worked with beginners—with first to third grade. So basically, I was the one who had to teach them how to play the piano, how to use the hand technique correctly, and what I noticed at that time is that all these kids had such a different type of hand! I never thought about it before teaching them. Because really, some of them would just sit down on the piano and place their hands so naturally, so well, shaped like a ball, as it should be…
V: Or an apple…
A: Yes, or an apple. And the thumb and the little finger would not stick out. But for somebody, I remember I had this one student who had really long fingers, and it seemed like he’s made out of jelly, maybe, or a gum, like a rubber.
A: I could do nothing with his hands. They just didn’t work.
V: So it seems that Diana needs to hold an apple in her hand.
A: Yes, and in general, I think when somebody asks questions like this, I think either their beginning technique instructions were taught to her incorrectly, or she simply doesn’t practice enough. Because it’s really a problem for just beginners.
V: When I had little students who were practicing piano at school, I remember several children, most of them really liked the idea of holding an apple in their hands, or a ball, like a tennis ball.
A: Shouldn’t it be a little…. Yes, I guess tennis ball, but for a small hand,
V: For a small hand…
A: Maybe it’s too big, a little big.
V: Like an apple, you know?
A: Well, you know, an apple can be various sizes!
V: Yes! So I remember one of my students always asking for an apple. “Can I hold an apple please?”
A: Just not to practice, yes?
V: Yes. And I would always carry a tennis ball or a tennis size ball made from rubber, maybe, in the trunk of my car, and would bring it to class.
A: I think I still have one of those balls in my book shelf in my classroom.
V: Yes, it’s very useful. So Diana and others who play with random shaped palm position, and struggle to keep their fingers on the keyboard, one of the best pieces of advice that we can give is simply to hold a ball or an apple in their hand, and then try to imitate this position on the keyboard.
A: But basically, I think this is a problem for beginners only, because as soon as you reach some sort of level, it should disappear, because your muscles will get used to that position.
V: Obviously, yes. So it’s a temporary problem if she continues to practice diligently and build up her organ technique. Thank you guys, this was Vidas,
A: And Ausra,
V: Please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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