how to practice piano with an injury

Understanding Musician Injuries

The Types, Causes and Prevention of Music-Related Injuries: Musicians are prone to injury from repeating a motion countless times when practicing. A better understanding of music injuries is vital for musicians' health.

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.

(c) 2008 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

On Injuries and Piano Practice

Source: Licensed for commercial use.One of my students showed up with a swollen finger last week. C injured it during a non-musical activity and after several days, the swelling was increasing. I demanded that she go see a doctor to get that finger checked out. C injured the middle finger of her left hand, which has presented us with the challenge of how to structure practices and lessons. It will take some time for her hand to heal but she can't take time off from practicing if she is to take her exam in the spring.

I have decided to zoom in on her weak spots. On Monday, I attended a workshop by the Royal Conservatory of Music, unveiling their new technical requirements. Some ideas were new while some I needed the refresher on.

C, like the rest of my students will be drilling their scales, chords and arpeggios at least five times per practice; playing them differently each time. Here are some of the variations:

  • play legato
  • play staccato
  • play portato
  • vary the dynamics
  • add a crescendo while ascending and diminuendo when descending
  • vary the rhythm (straight eighths, jazz triplets, even triplets, dotted half note followed by a quarter note)
  • vary the accents (accent beat one the first time, beat two the second, etc.)
  • play a repeated note scale (C-C-C D-D-D E-E-E)
  • play one octave as quarter notes, two octaves as eighth notes, three octaves as triplets and four octaves as sixteenth notes
  • play chords up the scale

In C's case, she'll have to just practice her right hand and rest her left. With these exercises, it's imperative to use proper fingering.

Tonight, we focused on phrase shaping, continuation notes and right hand rhythms. Next week, we'll tap practice the left hand rhythms.

C is using this opportunity to work harder on her ear training and theory.

The following are informative articles/discussions on dealing with piano-related injuries:







Please feel free to share your tips on injury prevention or dealing with injuries.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.