Author Topic: No__87____Regular Warm Up  (Read 359 times)

Peter Anderson

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No__87____Regular Warm Up
« on: April 21, 2018, 04:25:15 PM »
Regular Warm Up

We all realise that athletes and sports people, will always warm up before commencing their activity.   We need to recognize that as organ playing can be quite physical, we need to consider doing the same.    Therefore we need to warm up as well, before we spend a long spell at the AR.

It wonít come as a surprise that our fingers are one area that we fail to exercise properly.    If you are like me, with one replacement knee joint, (which is brilliant by the way) you have to maintain an exercise regime or you will get stiff.

In the following Replies weíll explore some ideas to help us in this area.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2018, 02:55:15 PM »
Having made the observation that athletes and sports people always warm up, especially before strenuous exercise, and recognising that our fingers are a major area that we fail to pay attention to, letís investigate how we can make things easier for ourselves.

Our hands obviously play a very key (excuse the pun) part in our organ skills.    Unevenness and inaccuracies in our playing mainly occur because of weakness in our fingers and the relationship between them.  The smaller or less significant digits seem to cause us more trouble, than our thumbs, index and middle fingers.  On closer consideration we soon realise that the alternation of fingers 3 & 5, or the alternation of fingers 2 & 4 causes us most trouble.

So with that in mind, with our hands, we need to maintain the side to side stretch, and also to build strength, co-ordination and independence into our fingers.  I appreciate that this is very important for pianists, for obvious reasons, but some pieces we play on our AR organs, do require extra effort.

Warning Ė Before commencing any exercise, you may wish to discuss the matter with your Doctor Ė that is a clause that I have added to indicate that you tackle these at your own risk!!!!
Like frequent signs in car parks about the risk of leaving your car in one of their parking spaces, The AR-Group can take no responsibility for any accidents.

But to be serious, you may well say, "I've been playing for decades and I've never sustained an injury or even caused someone else to suffer one", but you can overdo even simple exercises and injure yourself, so you have been warned!    You cannot be too careful.   Proceed with caution.

To start with, if freedom of movement is our aim, then good posture is essential.

So sit at your organ ... tall, but not stiff.   You know what I mean.   Never slouch.   Let your shoulders relax and down, while retaining a sense of buoyancy.

A slow gentle rocking back, forth and sideways from your hips will help you keep your arm joints mobile.

Your seating position and posture actually affects the way your arm weight operates.   For instance if you sit too close to the keyboard, in order to focus on the music, because of failing eyesight, for example, your arms will push your hands forward, effectively jamming your wrists and forcing your fingers to play from an awkward angle.
So moving back a little, keeping your back straight will cause your arms to pull your hands gently back and restore a healthy playing position.

Think of your elbows as wanting to bend and pull backwards, and your wrists as being drawn downwards, with your fingers as pulling at the keys.

Regularly and consciously, think about your posture when playing the organ.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2018, 05:51:30 PM »
A capable organist, will be able to play fast or slow pieces, and do so, either loudly or softly, thus eliminating dull lifeless performances, and generating contrast and variety.

This means we have to develop strength in our body, but especially in our arms, hands and fingers.

It has been suggested that Isaac Newton was the greatest piano teacher that ever lived, though he never realised it.   That is simply because he of all people, understood what has become known as Newtonian mechanics.
He appreciated the interreaction between, force, weight, speed, kinetic energy and mass, as well as a whole lot more.

The force needed to move an object is kinetic energy, which is a combination of weight and speed.   I won't bore you with the equations.  (But     KE = 1/2mv2   for purists)

Weight is provided by resting some of the arm's weight on the keys.  When the fingertip strikes the key, the knuckle pushes up with an equal force and acts against the arm weight.   This causes the arm weight to react back downwards on the finger with an impulse of kinetic energy, which will depend on the amount  of weight which was resting on and the speed of the finger stroke.   It does not imply any downward movement by the arm.   And all this happens simultaneously.

If you studied Newton's Laws, you will know that speed is more significant than weight.  (By doubling the weight we double the kinetic energy and by doubling the speed we quadruple the the kinetic energy.   -   See the formula above.)    So the speed and suddenness of the finger hitting the key, especially with percussive notes, even in slow tempo, are both even more important than the height.   That is the end of the physics lesson, you'll be glad to know.

So, easy and effective movement of our fingers is vital for good keyboard control.

In the next Reply we'll begin to explore preparation and effective warming up.

Peter

Hugh Wallington

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2018, 02:14:38 AM »
Peter,

Referring to a comment you made in your first post, "Your seating position and posture actually affects the way your arm weight operates" I would just like to add here that I was getting severe back problems when sitting at my organ and playing it.  When I went to see a physiotherapist about it, she suggested I made a foam cushion to sit on, the length of the stool, with a three inch thickness at the back and one inch at the front.  She said this would improve my posture when playing the organ.

So I did that, and at first I felt that I was 'falling into a pit'.  But after a while I got used to the posture, and my back problems disappeared.  When others come and play my organ, the first thing they do is throw the cushion off the stool!  But I can tell you, if I sit and play without that cushion I get backache within about five minutes of playing.  And it feels all wrong without the cushion.

Just a comment, which you can take with a piece of salt, but it works for me.  I also have a similar cushion in the car and find I can drive long distances now without getting backache.  I used to struggle before.

Hugh
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Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2018, 09:00:55 AM »
So let us underline that ....... Good posture is essential

So sit at your organ ... tall, but not stiff.  You know what I mean.  Never slouch.  Let your shoulders relax down, while retaining a sense of buoyancy.

A slow gentle rocking back, forth and sideways from your hips will help you keep your arm joints mobile.

Thank you, Hugh

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 03:56:20 PM »
Here for starters is a good way to 'warm up' your hands before playing.       I don't mean by putting them on the radiator!

I   General hand warm up

1.   Hold your hands in front of you, palms facing away, as if you are pushing against a wall with both hands.
2.   With a loose wrist, slowly circle your hands both clockwise and anti-clockwise.
3.   Bring your hands together in front of you like youíre praying, palm-to-palm, finger-to-finger, and extend your elbows out to the side.
4.   Slowly rotate your wrists so that your fingers point toward you, and then away from you, and finally down to the ground.
5.   Repeat a few times as you loosen your wrists.

Physical tension can easily become incorporated into your playing through the necessary repetition of practicing.   So itís very important to develop a pattern of releasing your muscles as you play and building this pattern into your playing. Doing this also becomes a way to unify the physical and mental components of music making, because staying comfortable while you play requires constant monitoring for areas of discomfort.

In the next Reply, we look at Stretching exercises.

Peter

Penry Evans

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 10:31:18 PM »
Hi Peter, thanks for these exercises they are perfect I am suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, it has prevented me from playing for a long time, I am certain they will help to get me back playing again I live in hope anyway. Penry.

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2018, 10:41:06 PM »
Thank you for your encouraging feedback, Penry.
More practical suggestions planned to appear in the coming days.
Watch this space.

As we get older and suffer more troublesome issues, it is good to find things that help us to enjoy our beloved pastime.

Many of us can empathise with you, as we face similar circumstances.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2018, 01:48:48 PM »
II   Stretching Exercises

You need to use your knees for this one.
It so happens that the width of your knee, is proportionate to the potential stretch of your hands.

Sit down, and cross one leg over the other.   If you have a replacement knee, this may prove to be uncomfortable.

Now  straighten the leg which is on top, so it sticks straight out in front of you.

Take this next step slowly and if it hurts then stop.

Keeping your leg straight out in front of you, place your index and middle fingers of either hand, either side of your knee cap.  They will be pointing almost vertically down to the ground.

Now slowly and gradually bend that leg at the knee.
As it bends, the knee joint widens and it will naturally push your fingers apart.   Donít try to bend your either leg too quickly or even too far.    Just bending it a small amount will stretch that finger spacing.

Now try the same thing with your middle and ring fingers.   If you are like me, these will be less inclined to flex, so take it steadily and cautiously.   Finally, do the same thing with your ring and little fingers.   This may well be the pair that feel the stress most.

Now cross the other knee over and repeat the whole process with your other hand.

Initially your fingers will be reluctant to stretch, so donít over push them.    But with gentle daily repetition, they will eventually loosen up and you will probably want to bend those legs more and more.

In the next Reply, we look at strength, co-ordination and independence.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2018, 02:46:38 PM »
III   Strength, Co-ordination and independence Exercises

Stage 1 of 3 stages

Form your hand into a tight fist, then relax it as if you were holding a small ball.   Your thumb and fingertips should now all line up.

Lay your fingertips on a table.
Raise your thumb without disturbing your other fingers.  Lift it quite high.
Tap that thumb 3 separate times on the table and set it back down again.

Now lift you index finger off the table, and again tap the tip of that finger, 3 times on the table, before setting it down again.

You should now clearly see where this is going.

So do the same with the middle, ring and little fingers of that hand.   Donít forget Ė donít disturb the other fingers or your thumb.

Then do exactly the same set of exercises with your other hand.

Stages 2 and 3 are described in the immediately following Replies.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2018, 08:12:26 AM »
III   Strength, Co-ordination and independence Exercises  continued

Stage 2 of 3 stages


Now after a few days, when you have got used to these simple exercises, try it on your AR.

Important - Turn the volume of the keyboard you choose, right down!!!

Now press down on five adjacent white keys.

Now go through this series of exercises again, but as you lift the thumb or finger in turn, ensure that the other 4 digits keep pressing down on the notes.    This should be achieved by your arm weight alone, not by pressing or squeezing your fingers.    If you donít do this properly, you will only generate tension in your hand and arm.

Don't forget to do this with both hands.

Stage 3 in the next Reply.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2018, 03:46:32 PM »
III   Strength, Co-ordination and independence Exercises      continued

Stage 3 of 3 stages

After a week or so of repeating Stage 2, you can now turn the volume up, on your AR.

Now just rest your finger on those 5 adjacent notes without pushing them down.
There should be no sound at this point.

First press the thumb down 3 times, so that just that note sounds.    The other 4 fingers should just continue to rest on the keys and not press down on them.

Donít worry if things go awry for the first few times you try this.

Now rest that thumb back on its key and press down with your index finger, again 3 times.   Just the index finger note should sound and the other 4 remain silent.

Continue in turn to do this with the middle, ring and little fingers of that hand.

Iíd love to be a fly on the wall when you try your ring finger!!!

Now complete the whole exercise again with your other hand.

Regular warm up exercises can only be beneficial to you, if you do them regularly.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2018, 02:31:28 AM »
Do any members have other recommendations in this area, please?

If so, then please feel free to add them as a Reply below.

Thank you,

Peter

Roger Mardon

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2018, 09:25:21 AM »
Get a good nightís sleep! Time you were in bed.

Peter Anderson

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Re: No__87____Regular Warm Up
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2018, 02:32:26 PM »
Here is a You Tube video recommending Warm up exercises:

This is a very helpful one.



In the next Reply you find a more energetic one.

Peter