I am learning to play the arrangement of Skyfall in the RSL Grade 3 book. I have a small-ish right hand. As a consequence of trying to reach the chords in the bridge section I have strained my fingers. The bar (measure) requires me to play E♭ on 1, G on 2, A♭ on 3 for the whole bar and melody of C D and E♭ with my 5 finger. I could not find pedalling to help as that spoilt the LH F notes two octaves below (too far away).

Tricky bit from Skyfall in RSL Piano Book 3 Revision 1

The tenderness lies between the 3 and 4 finger knuckles on the side of the 3 finger knuckle. I searched NHS Direct for treatment and studied Gray's Anatomy for clues.

The injury does not feel severe but I am worried that it will get worse if I do not get treatment. I have not lost any mobility and the hand is not swollen. I do feel a little heat.

I stopped playing RH parts for a few weeks and tried a Bedford split (strapping 3 and 4 finger together) that I constructed. It hasn't significantly improved so I returned to practising the other pieces that are not so demanding of my RH.

I cannot decide whether it is a thumb dorsal muscle or tendon / tendon sheath injury. I think I need diagnosis and treatment from a specialist that understands piano playing injuries, based somewhere in the South East of England.

Any ideas whom I might consider approaching? I guess I am looking for an osteopath specialising in hand anatomy with a piano I suppose. I will take your suggestions to my NHS GP and agree the best way forward for a quick recovery.

  • "The bar (measure) requires me to play Eb on 1, G on 2, Ab on 3 for the whole bar and melody of C D and Eb with my 5 finger" - OUCH!!! Either you should sue the RSL for creating inappropriate arrangement for a relative beginner, or (possibly more likely?) you have misinterpreted something. From your description that looks horrible for anybody to play. Can you attach a picture of the score?
    – user19146
    Oct 1, 2017 at 9:52
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    Have you read and understood the exam syllabus correctly? Page 7: "- At all grades, if any two handed/open voiced chords notated in the pieces are not achievable, candidates may either reduce the amount of notes in the voicing or play as a spread chord if stylistically appropriate. - At all grades, candidates are free to execute voiced chords notated in the pieces with either hand or combination of hands. - In any Level 3 piece containing chord symbols, voicings may be presented as deemed appropriate."
    – user19146
    Oct 1, 2017 at 10:11
  • Also there is a correction to the Skyfall score - see rslawards.com/shop/grade-books/piano/grade-three#errata.
    – user19146
    Oct 1, 2017 at 10:16
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    I added a picture I sent to my piano teacher a couple of weeks ago. She asked the same question and made the same point. I have thoughts on how to tackle this, probably shortening or not playing the RH Eb on the 1 finger (thumb). The errata for Skyfall concerns an earlier bar (measure). The correction was incorporated into the Revision 1 book, from which the picture was taken. I found the point about dropping notes you cannot reach too late. Dropping notes and pedalling messed up the sound too much, so I'll work on it with my teacher when safe to do so.
    – Emma
    Oct 1, 2017 at 14:50
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    I don't know anything about the NHS (I'm American), so forgive me for saying you should go to a generalist doctor who hopefully has the knowledge and authority to refer you to a specialist if you really need one. The fact that you've injured yourself playing piano doesn't change human anatomy nor how muscles and tendons work and heal. Oct 1, 2017 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


If it hurts, stop! General principle.

The problem is usually too much, too soon. Try rolling chords you can't reach. In any case, the Philip Isidor piano technique book has some good exercises you can practice to SLOWLY increase your flexibility and strength.

If you really did hurt yourself, don't keep re-injuring it. Use some tiger balm and rest.

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