On Injuries and Piano Practice - Part II

The unthinkable for musicians happened to me last week - I injured a finger. An attempt to carve some pot roast with Dad's funky new carving knife landed me in Emergency to get stitches on my LH finger 2. My finger is healing well but I had to promise the doctor that I wouldn't type or practice piano on that finger for a week. So long as the bandage is large enough, I remember not to type on it (tubular gauze is wonderful). However, practicing is another issue. I can't just skip that finger without learning a brand new set of fingering. Nor can I risk hitting my injured finger on keys while trying to play around it. Ergo, no practicing for my LH.

Piano Camp is less than a week away so I've had to make some modifications to my practicing. You may recall my first article On Injuries and Piano Practice from last year. The following are a few more techniques I've been employing to prepare:

  • have my uninjured RH play its line while I sing the LH line. Then get my RH to play the LH line while I sing the RH line.
  • have my RH play its line while my uninjured fingers on my LH tap its rhythm. This hasn't worked too well since the movement jiggles my injured finger too much, so I've resorted to saying silly syllables for the LH rhythm. Then get my RH to play the LH line while I say the rhythm for the RH part. (Aug. 6 update: Having my LH play the rhythm on castanets seems to work).
  • Score study. I think I have nearly all my modulations and cadences memorized for my Soler sonata.
  • Listen to recordings of your songs and conduct it how you would shape the music.
  • Hands separate work. Obviously, my RH has to play my LH part, which really makes me think.

Even if you aren't nursing an injury, these are good practice techniques to try. You may wind up noticing a pattern you overlooked that would simplify memorization. Or notice that you missed the melody's appearance in a different register because of all the other action happening in the bass and soprano lines. Rhythms become a little easier to deal with and so on.

The stitches come out in a few days, giving me the weekend to get my left hand back into shape. Challenging, but not impossible.

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