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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 12:07 pm
by Stretto
I was scanning the internet recently for information on various articles and opinions on piano technique and read a thread on a music related forum where a teacher was really insistant that using a coin on the back of the hand was THE best way to learn proper technique. I mean this person was very, very convinced.

Does anyone know the history behind this approach? What are some opinions?

Edited By Stretto on 1148753486

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 5:49 pm
by 108-1121887355
Don't know any history and do not think that alone would perfect technique. I have used a penny when students are learning scales, at times, to make the transition of thumb under and 3rd over, smoother. When the penny stays on, they keep it, Shiney pennies still do hold some attraction. One student was twisting her hand a lot recently and I pulled out the penny again. After a few tries, she got it better. Good for 2 octave arpeggios too.

Joan :O

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 6:13 pm
by Stretto
I tried it out tonight for about 5 min. just for kicks and tried "ignoring" the fact that the coin was there and played the piece of music I've been working on just as I regularly would just to see if it would stay on.

Here's a few benefits I found:

1. A lot of great laughs! I laughed out loud to myself everytime the coin fell off and it was kind of a game anticipating where the coin might go each time it landed. Hey, one could even call it in the air - heads or tails! :laugh:

2. Good excercise: Got some good excercise bending down to get the coin.

3. Helps one practice being able to start back in the music anyplace in the score without starting over: Everytime the coin flew off of course I had to stop so it was good practice jumping right back in the middle of the score.

4. Gives ones hands, arms, etc. a lot of little rests or breaks while getting the coin.

5. Those who use this approach must have a ton of hidden wealth underneath their piano.

One downside: I forgot the coin was there when turning the page and it fell down.

I really am not intending to make fun of the idea so don't get me wrong. I was just having fun with it. But I was seriously interested in its merit.

Edited By Stretto on 1148775522

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 1:10 pm
by Dr. Bill Leland
The coin-on-the-hand thing is very, VERY old--it was used in the 19th century. It could help when you need a quiet hand, such as avoiding twisting in scale playing, and it seems to have been used a lot to keep the hand from sloping over to the outer side and unconsciously trying to help the weak fifth finger with karate chops and the like.

But suppose you're playing broken octaves or tremolos, where the hand and forearm make an oscillating movement? The coin would either have to be glued on, or it would force the player to try to substitute finger movements instead of rotation, which would be all wrong. Or what if you're lifting a nice, flexible wrist at the end of a graceful phrase?

So it might work with some kinds of technique and not others.

Save your money!

Dr. Bill L.

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 1:50 pm
by 108-1121887355
Thank you, Dr.

That is what I use it for sometimes and I don't worry about the pennies any more.

As my 88 year old friend says, "I don't need to save for my old age, as it is already here!"


PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 4:39 pm
by Stretto
Dr. Bill Leland wrote:Save your money!


PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 9:39 am
by 108-1121887355
When Dr. Bill annd Stretto finish laughing, I suggest that teachers might use the 'coin on the hand' for early scale practice - it really does help and the student is watching the hand to note the correct position to keep the coin from falling! :p

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 12:17 pm
by Stretto
Sorry, I really didn't mean to poke fun of the idea, although I probably came across that way, I was just having fun with it. And I found Dr. Leland's comment, "save your money!" gave me a chuckle. They say laughter is the best medicine so I got some good "medicine" in on having fun with the idea.

Yes I could see how it might be useful for some things. I was thinking how it might get a person thinking about the top of one's hand or a feeling of upward or lighter feeling holding the coin on the back of the hand vs. a downward forceful, more weight than necessary into the keys movement.

Well, yesterday at a souvenier shop in a new shopping area that opened up in the area, I saw some of those huge coins replicas of pennies, nickels, and quarters about 2-3 inches in diameter and thought about this topic imagining playing with one of those coin on the back of the hand - :D .

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 5:17 pm
by Dr. Bill Leland
Well, maybe with inflation heating up again we ought to practice with dollar bills on our hands!

B. L.

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 5:18 am
by Cy Shuster
Actually, a quarter might be less likely to get stuck between the keys.


PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 9:30 am
by Christine
Hi everyone,

Ok, I have to admit, I use the "coin on the back of the hand" story for my beginner students, who insist on having their wrists way up in the air, and fingers "dangling" downward when they play. I ask them "where would that coin fall if you placed one on the back of your hand?...into the keys!" I never actually place a coin on their hand, but rather have them imagine it. I am always too afraid that the coin will fall into my keys and get stuck! And, I never say a "penny"...I always say "a loonie" (I'm Canadian, eh!). Less of a chance of getting it stuck inside keys too!

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 11:37 am
by Stretto
That's funny that your students tend to start out with wrists way up. The biggest problem I've noticed with a few is wrists caved in or collapsed way below the keys.

Does anyone have piano keys with a wide enough space between keys for a coin to fit? My piano keys are spaced too closely together for a coin to fall between the keys except possibly a dime. I was just thinking perhaps though, would a coin falling on the keys scratch them?

Probably the main thing I worry about with any idea in general not just the coin idea is if a student gets the wrong idea and starts thinking in terms of stiff, motionless-type positions. That's what I would wind up doing in a student's shoes.

Anyone have any ideas for word pictures related to movement to describe some of the ways you'd want a student to play?

Edited By Stretto on 1149010901

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 3:45 pm
by 108-1121887355
Yes, laughter is good and you all are funny!

A dollar bill would not do it, as you know! A quarter might be a little large for some of my students, but you are right about the keys! Haven't had that happen since my children were small and it cost me a tuner's trip to get it! I am very careful and relate the story to my students.

Now, perhaps we can get on another subject - but I would suggest if you have not tried it, try it! :p

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 3:53 pm
by Stretto
loveapiano wrote:A dollar bill would not do it, as you know! :p

Have you seen the gold coins? I forgot what they're called. I may be wrong but aren't they equivalent to a dollar?

How about a chocolate coin?

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 4:13 pm
by Christine
Hi Stretto,

Maybe you are referring to our Canadian dollar, the Loonie (called so because it has a loon on one side, not because we are loonie :D ). It is a gold coin and larger than a quarter. I guess it is almost equivalent to a U.S. dollar these days!