Strengthening of intrinsic hand muscles (Nov 22)

Dr. Wolff - Strengthening of intrinsic hand muscles for musicians

A great way to tone your small hand muscles - and a great way to warm up prior to practicing is to do some gentle isometric exercises. DO NOT FORCE THIS; it is more about awareness and balance, than about strength.

As a concept, each finger should only work with its direct counterpart - to eliminate the chance of overpowering a weaker finger (imagine thumb vs. pinky!).

Assume the same position as in the hand awareness exercise of Nov 21, but now, bend your fingers slightly more, so that one finger tip can rest on the finger nail of its direct counterpart.

1. The upper finger presses downwards, the lower finger presses upwards - the resulting movement is ZERO (think: don't let me press you down/up). It is important not to press so hard that the fingers start shaking or joints start collapsing. Steadily and carefully increase the force of each finger acting upon the other - and carefully release that tension after a few seconds.

2. Now, swop positions and increase - then decrease the tension.

3. Next, position one finger laterally to the other and start building up subtle force. You might want to think about a pair of fingers in opposition to the thumb - at any given time. Don't let any finger press the other sideways.

4. Then swop positions - the finger which was in front goes to the back and vice versa.

Depending on your (finger's) "shape of the day", one position might be more difficult to maintain than another. One hand might generally be weaker or less stable than the other. When you keep practicing under careful observance not to overpower any of the parts involved, those differences will dissipate over time.

Do this exercise prior to practicing (one run through) or sometime during the day - off the piano - when you don't feel like practicing but you're fighting your bad conscience... :-)