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When I do finger exercises (e.g. Hanon's), my pinky finger is being raised after I play (press and release) a key with my fourth finger, and then is raised even more and is striated after the third finger plays a key. I try to fight it, in order to preserve a nice curvature of the hand. However, does every piano player have a problem with this, and is this problem able to be overcome?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Unnecessary effort is inefficient. Unnecessary tension is damaging both to your technique and to your body. Play as slowly as necessary until you can relax your pinky. I guarantee you can play one note a minute with a relaxed pinky. Then slowly increase speed. If there's one thing that proper practice is good for, it's breaking bad habits. But, like anything else worth doing, it will take time. Be patient.

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Agreed. I just tried what the OP described and was surprised to see my pinky move, but with concentration kept it from happening. I would assume I'm able to do so due to piano practice. –  Matthew Read Apr 29 '11 at 13:23
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Make sure that you pay attention to the issue even after you fix it; because of my inattentiveness, I've had the "british pinky" sneak back into my technique several times. –  Babu Apr 29 '11 at 13:48
    
my own experience supports your advice and Babu's : if you want to add something to your technique, you have to build it in progressively from the slowest speed and utmost conscious attention to the speed and automaticity you can reach with your other skills. Rushing will only mean volatility. –  ogerard May 3 '11 at 6:05

A good excersise to help overcome that is to put your hand flat on a table. Then, with your hand relaxed, try to lift one individual finger while keeping your other fingers on the table. Do this with all of your fingers. The goal is to move one finger without moving the others. This will help with your finger dexterity and "finger-eye" coordination.

Similarly, you could try this excersise on the piano. Just keep your hand relaxed on the keys. Don't press the keys, just keep them relaxed and in playing position. Then slowly lift each finger like before.

At first it may be difficult for some of your fingers. Just don't give up! Keep at it, go slow, and eventually your fingers will stay relaxed.

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