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I think Joseph Fleetwood's comments about tension and a good action regulation are pretty spot on, and are of value to every level of pianist from beginner on up. I come to this from the perspective of an action rebuilder and technician. I would only add that some piano actions are badly set up from the beginning in the factory or the rebuilding shop, and the regulation must best perform it can on that foundation.

I think that tension and trust go hand in hand. If the pianist does not trust what the piano is willing to do for him or her, a defensive contraction sets in. This is dysfunctional, it only makes matters worse. I find that I can hear the tension in the expressive playing. If I have done my job well, I can hear the relaxation and opening that comes into their playing afterwards.

Tension is not an on or off switch. Functional tension is dynamic, fluid, and efficient. If your muscles are overly tensed, the relaxation of the involved muscles takes more time and our movements are less accurate and not as subtle.

As a longtime ski instructor, I find that many people do not want to move towards what they fear. And that hesitation and contraction can continue even as they are moving, and with a lowered ability to accomplish their task. Put them on the right equipment in good snow and success comes much easier.


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I'm usually the last person to complain when a thread drifts off topic, but this thread is about a different sort of thing. Academic research needs to be focused, and tends to be esoteric. Joe's research question is about whether poorly regulated instruments cause injury, and so specifically that he wondered if anyone was aware of existing studies of the same. Naturally, as threads go, many have thrown in their own personal theories, but they're largely tangential.


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The other thing is, LadyBird, before you hit out at me like that, remember that I am using my own name on this forum. You are hiding behind a handle, a fake name. At least sign your own name in posts so we can talk it out properly.

I think this perspective is a little off the mark. Forum rules allow for the use of an ID like this, and for users to maintain some anonymity as to their true identity. People engage in meaningful discussion all the time this way (even you made lots of meaningful posts with your previous generic ID).

FWIW, I wanted to link a video just yesterday, but decided against it because it's in my YouTube account, and I'd prefer to keep them separate.

I think it's fine if people want to reveal their true identity, but no one should feel compelled to do so, or feel guilty for not doing so.


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Joe
I find your sudden hatred for me quite unnecessary . You have mentioned bad piano teachers, as you did when Karl contratulated you right at the beginning of that post. Yes you often mention them. From the beginning of this thread you have either ignored me or been rather cool.

Why mention Sam Bennet, for what reason ? I misunderstood him .That is very clear ., And do you know? I wrote to him and I apologized and Sam and I corresponded. But yes he is open to kindness and forgiveness. There was a post from that particular thread from someone ( not you) , that does a quick character assasination like you have just done and then .........he knows what he wrote. ....If you want to see poison it's still there.
.As to my forum name, this is the first "internet anything "I have ever done. In fact I thought I had to use a PW name.Most do so I do not know what that sulk is is about ?

For YOUR thread I provided detailed information about what I thought you could use in your research .Please go back and see ! You certainly acknowledged some people, although I notice you ignored me .Still perhaps there is a real for that , perhaps it was an oversight.
You describing me as spouting venom is particularly nasty , and there is no reason for it. It is purely an Ad Hominem attack for no reason. In my last post I mentioned that I have taught music most of my life .I have enjoyed working with children and young people. I have given them something extra in their lives. It was my life's work and I am no going to let someone's "hissy fit" ruin it for me. I never said you are incapable of teaching beginners or intermediate students !
I simply said some performers do not make good teachers. That is all . You said something about the run of the "mill piano teacher", I said that. ( are you so beyond criticism ?)
Instead of scapegoating one 71 year old retired teacher,.why not start a thread in the Piano Teachers Forum and address your concerns to the teachers there.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 03/31/21 01:06 PM. Reason: missing text
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Balanced and non-hysterical may I introduce you to the First Lady.


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LadyBird,

I'm not trying to scapegoat you, or trying to attack you. There's nothing on this thread directed at you. This thread is about whether or not pianos are a contributing factor to injury.

I'm sorry if you feel that I haven't given you enough attention on the thread, your contributions are valuable but I don't have time to respond to them all.

I realise your life's work is teaching, and it's very important to you, and I know you've been very successful at it. When I, or someone else, happens to mention that teaching sometimes contributes to injury, this is a known problem and is not directed at you.

Please realise that you are not under attack. I am not your enemy.

Last edited by Joseph Fleetwood; 03/31/21 02:05 PM.

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Moderator: Can we either close this thread or get it back on track. Thank you.


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Yes, Ladybird remember the time I told you sometimes you post things that make little sense because you believe someone is attacking you. This is one of those times. Joseph is not attacking you. Now can we get back on track it would be sad to close a good thread over this.


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Yes do that then go and address teachers in the piano teachers forum. I feel like reporting you for saying that I spouted venom .
Where did I do that ? You and the everyone can see that I tried to help you for how many pages ! While I am sure there are teachers who may not teach correctly or not even be a qualified and registered as piano teachers, I am not one of them.
However to generalize about other piano teachers who are not concert performers or who are doing an advanced degree is NOT fair.

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Originally Posted by Jethro
Yes, Ladybird remember the time I told you sometimes you post things that make little sense because you believe someone is attacking you. This is one of those times. Joseph is not attacking you. Now can we get back on track it would be sad to close a good thread over this.
I have a right to protect the ordinary piano teacher who is not a performer or studying for an advanced degree. I never said he "attacking me" , when did I say that ?
Yes he said I was spreading poison, which is a TOTAL exaggeration and not fair. He can live with that. Please do carry on with this thread .I am going to avoid it from now on .

Last edited by Lady Bird; 03/31/21 02:48 PM. Reason: missing text
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
However to generalize about other piano teachers who are not concert performers or who are doing an advanced degree is NOT fair.

Lady Bird, Joe did not generalize about anything. Saying that "some" teachers contribute to injury is not generalization, and he never said or implied that you were one of those teachers.


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I agree with what Retsacnal was saying earlier about the research being specific, targeted and focused. Hence, any injury would be specifically related to poor piano regulation. Not improper technique, tenseness, stress, or prolonged playing for hours, but specifically playing poorly regulated piano actions.

I suppose this kind of research could be done, with the right "targeted sample population". Of course, I would not be a good candidate for that targeted population. I've played many pianos with worn out actions, that were way beyond poorly regulated, and without injury.

If I play my piano(s) for more than a couple of hours, my hands and fingers may be a little sore the next morning, but I think that is pretty much normal. I don't sit and play the piano for long periods of time. I will play off and on during the day for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. But rarely for several hours at one sitting/playing session. The only exception is if I'm trying to record a music video, and I keep messing up or making mistakes. I'll keep re-recording the video until I'm reasonably satisfied with the recording.

Also, I suppose the "targeted sample population" would need to be music repertoire/genre focused. Are we talking about Classical music pianists, jazz pianists, blues pianists, rock pianists, or country music pianists or others?

Surely some type of info on this topic already exists somewhere? If not, Joseph, maybe you could be the first to compile such a "data collection" research paper, and maybe even write a book on the subject.

Another idea would be to broaden the scope of the research and examine any and all injuries related to playing the piano, and not just due to poorly regulated piano actions.

Hope this gets things back on track to an extent.

Rick


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Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
However to generalize about other piano teachers who are not concert performers or who are doing an advanced degree is NOT fair.

Lady Bird, Joe did not generalize about anything. Saying that "some" teachers contribute to injury is not generalization, and he never said or implied that you were one of those teachers.
I never said he did !!!

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Lady Bird.

Back off.

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

People who continually cause controversy on the forums and make extra work for the moderator team have a way of disappearing. There are no third chances.


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I played on a piano once that definitely could cause injury. How do I know this? The piano, which was located in a hospital mental facility
(I was giving a Christmas concert, not there as a patient)
had some keys where the front end of the key was sharp and jagged. Some of the plastic key covers actually came off while I was playing it. This is meant as a humorous aside since the problem with that piano was way beyond its regulation.

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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Music students have to perform a lot of recitals, concertos, chamber music, and they have to practice for hours a day. They often practice far more than is healthy for them, playing way past the point of fatigue. That in itself is enough to cause injury. You don't need to play the piano to know this. Anybody who has worked out in a gym will know that by the end of their work out they'll be mismanaging muscle tension and running the risk of tendonitis. Anybody who has typed long hours knows the same.

This thread is actually about whether or not playing on poorly regulated instruments brings you to that point of fatigue sooner, or if it has no effect.

That is the question. Alfred Brendel said the answer is "Yes".


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I played on a piano once that definitely could cause injury. How do I know this? The piano, which was located in a hospital mental facility
(I was giving a Christmas concert, not there as a patient)
had some keys where the front end of the key was sharp and jagged. Some of the plastic key covers actually came off while I was playing it. This is meant as a humorous aside since the problem with that piano was way beyond its regulation.

Funny story! And good for you for doing the concert. thumb


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In this "targeted sample population" you would need a within-subject design, so that each subject plays both on a poorly and a well-regulated piano with some days in between (order counter-balanced across subjects). Ask subjects before and after about physical well-being, hands, arms etc. If you have a serious grant you could do an MRI after each session (for research ~350 euros per scan in my country). It will be unethical to test subjects up to the point that they are injured.

One would need to define 'regulation' more specifically. Note that Ed McMorrow talked about poor regulation as part of the design of the piano from the factory, e.g. having disproportionally heavy hammers. Perhaps the concept 'well-regulated' will turn out to be a can of worms.

A cheaper way to start would be to use a questionnaire for selected subjects. This is going to be less precise, but allows for a much larger sample and the data may reveal interesting patterns, as well as inform about the prevalence of the problem, and perhaps what the most important type of regulation problem might be. The outcome of such a study may motivate a more controlled and more expensive one.

Another entry point for motivating an experimental subject study would be to start measuring the force dynamics involved in playing the different categories of piano, to test if these are substantially different. This would be a nice internship project for an undergraduate student in applied physics/mechanics.

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I love this forum and it's members for their passions smile. And it is clear that this is an issue. Good clinical research though is a very exact science and requires a rigorous approach. Whilst there are a lot of good suggestions here in this thread, I would suggest that anyone who wants to undertake this research will need to work with their local university hospital. Without meaning to hurt anyone's feelings, half the suggestions on here for research would never get past ethical approval for the sole reason you can't subject potentially injured subjects to an experiment where you set up the piano to potentially hurt them. And if you want to consider research on how piano regulation might cause injury pianists you would have to test normal people and see how regulation might affect the normal population (primary prevention), then, you can't do research on subjects who already have an existing injury and then extrapolate that to the normal population. The fact that subjects already have an existing injury means they might have some factor that predisposes them to such injuries and it is very hard to correct for that regardless of how good your study design is. I accept sometimes you have no choice and you have to study people who already have disease but extrapolating those results to the healthy population is always fraught with difficulties and you're much better off studying a population that approximates the general population.

Also consider this, pain is not necessarily a bad sign when it comes to injury. Playing piano requires you to build up strength and flexibility in your finger muscles. To do that you have to push your muscles. Much like a body builder or gymnasts needs to do exercise that pushes their limits to improve those muscles, pianists are doing the same thing when they practice. If you push your limits, there is bound to be some tiredness/fatigue of the muscles; that's the way your muscles are stimulated to strengthen. The key lies in finding the point where practice and discomfort leads to strengthening of muscles without tipping into pushing the muscles to hard and causing injury.

TLDR; Research design discussion is outwith the scope of experience for most on this forum smile and pain isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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Clearly there are two things that will need assessment and correlation, those being the state of regulation of the piano and the other being injuries to pianists.

A starting point for serious research might be to recruit piano tuners as researchers with the aim of first determining which factors in piano regulation should be included in the research and how they will be measured. Another starting point might be to get some sort of definition of what might be termed a 'piano related injury' but getting medical folks to agree on that might be easier than getting tuners to accept standard measures for regulation quality :-)

Then each researcher might measure and record the characteristics of each piano they tune and get relevant information from the owner such as how long they have been playing pianos, how long they have had this one, how many hours a week do they play, have they had any possibly piano playing related injuries or problems and, if so, get some sort of confidential detail of those injuries.

This isn't ideal as there will be all sorts of data skews e.g. it will selectively focus on pianists who play regularly not the general population as they are more likely to actually have their piano tuned and maintained but it should give plenty of numbers to crunch. Clearly if this was in place it would also give opportunity for ongoing studies as well as the historical survey and might even have some desirable effects by itself if it has the side effect of prompting folks to actually have their piano regulated.

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