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Rhetorical performance question

  • 1.  Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-07-2018 20:28
    I say rhetorical because I doubt that there is a real answer to this question, but while attempting to practice on an extraordinarily hot day here in Los Angeles, (113°), I thought bringing it up for conversation might be entertaining. Perhaps even productive.

    Realizing that actually knowing how to play the piano would help me in my abilities as a tuner/tech I started taking lessons about 10 years ago. At my age it's going slow but I'm enjoying it immensely. However, I'm having one problem that neither my teacher nor I have been been able to answer. I have largish hands. My teacher hates me because I can easily reach, and play a 10th. But with those largish hands comes slightly thicker fingers. (I'm sure that because of today's heat my fingers may be even a bit thicker than usual as my body attempts to hold on to as much moisture as possible.) My problem is that I have extreme difficulty playing a note that lies between two sharps without also playing one, or sometimes both of the sharps at the same time. I have a six year old Yamaha U1, which I love. A quick look at Schaff reveals that I can get sharps in varying lengths and heights, but width is not mentioned. Anyone else out there suffer from this, and if so, what was your solution?

    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA

  • 2.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-07-2018 20:42
    It wouldnt be too hard to make the sharps narrower. A few thousandths off each side could make a difference. Never hurts to customize.

  • 3.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-08-2018 11:44
    Hi Geoff,

    I have fingers too large to fit between the sharps too, but never thought much of it for years.  I began studying as a child, when I didn't have that problem - and just adapted over time without any conscious awareness of it.   That is,  until recently.  When I played a rapid Chopin Prelude on Jim Reeder's 9' Bluthner at NAMM this year it appeared mistake free, which prompted Catherine to exclaim that I had found my piano.   I understand that the newer Bluthners do have narrower sharps.  So $175,000 for a Bluthner and my concert career is launched!  I'll have to drag it everywhere like Gottschalk and Horowitz - 

    25 years ago I met a technician at a Steinway weeklong training whose fingers were twice as fat as mine, and who could really play - mostly Dino, but it was impressive and near miraculous.   
    He had learned to negotiate the impossible.

    So - you could probably learn to manage, like me, but with today's narrower sharp options you could be mistake free too!  

    Jet lagged in Lancaster -

  • 4.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-08-2018 19:49
    It was 113° at my house on Saturday. Inside, the AC was doing all it could to keep it at a comfortable 85°. After I wrote my original post I thought to myself, maybe if I hold my hands under some cool water that might help. It actually did. But it wasn't just the cool water making my fingers shrink that worked. It was the water and, OK, a bit of soap that cleaned the perspiration off my fingers that helped. I wasn't really aware of just how sticky my fingers actually were until they were clean. Yes, the adage Wash Before Playing holds true. Afterwards, my fingers were still touching the sides of the blacks, but they were no longer actually causing them to move enough to play. It was suggested that I learn to rotate my hands a bit. That easing my fingers between the black's at a bit of an angle, might help. It does. Just one more thing that I now need to learn.

    Thanks to all for your helpful replies.

    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA

  • 5.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-07-2018 22:29
    Plastic sharps might be difficult to make more narrow, evenly each side. A supply house or Michael Morvan might have thin ebony sharps.

    My fingers get caught too.   Today's high was 72 degrees on Cape Cod, low humidity... perfect. :-)


    Jon Page

  • 6.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-08-2018 10:09
    First, you are not alone and it's a real problem.

    Re thinning the sharps, remember that your fingers are getting stuck between the key sticks, not just the sharps coverings.

    The best you can do short of putting your fingers on a diet :) is to bend the front pins to space apart the sharps as far as you can without making the keys or key end felts rub. C# and D# are easy. F# and A# can only go so far since the G# has to be centered between the G and A.

    Mario Igrec, RPT

  • 7.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-08-2018 12:28
    I realize this isn't a solution, but if you played mostly in Gb and Db that would eliminate most of the hard to reach notes. Before anyone laughs at this, none less than Stevie Wonder played mostly in the flat keys. No slouch, Stevie. As far as classical repertoire goes, there is so much great music written in these keys that it would really take a lifetime to get through it!

     From a technician standpoint I really like Mario's idea of widening the sharps away from each other using the front keypins. If you get enough real estate on the C# and D#,  maybe the only sharps you would need to sand would be G#. Only seven of those. Seven sharps, music to my ears 😏

    Nicholas Litterski, RPT
    Austin TX

  • 8.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-08-2018 21:52
    What is the relative humidity both inside and outside when the temp is 113?  Just curious

    Walter Bagnall
    Chillicothe OH

  • 9.  RE: Rhetorical performance question

    Posted 07-08-2018 23:11
    Outside it reached 111° today and about 20% humidity
    Inside I was able to keep it at about 84° and it's currently at about 35% humidity.
    Just came inside from having sat outside with a beer for the sun to set. Very pleasant, actually.
    With the storm weather in Mexico leaking northwards, however, I don't expect the humidity to stay that low for long.

    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA