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Old 08-01-2008, 08:33 AM   #11
Bill from MA
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Mao
finally.... who told your fingers were too slow? THAT PERSON should have prescribed/advised a plan of attack for you to cure the problem....
My PM brought the issue to my attention and his advice was a stress ball, but the stress ball sounds "off," but he does have more experience than me, so I figured I'd ask here for additional advice.

I've found that I tend to get some really great advice here.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:00 AM   #12
Bruce Wright
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill from MA
I do have a death grip.
Try to think of your chanter as a peeled, very overripe banana, and try not to squish it. Sometimes thinking about it that way helps.

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Old 08-01-2008, 09:07 AM   #13
bugz
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Is the slowness exhibited in the execution of embellishments or in tune tempo? (For example, are your taurluaths and doublings too open, or do your fingers fall apart when you try to play a tune up to speed?)
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:29 AM   #14
Bill from MA
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Both, but I think he's referrring to my embellishments.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:45 AM   #15
bugz
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

For that, I suggest you do get a good book on technique exercises like 'Rhythmic Fingerwork', and just bite the bullet. But don't just concentrate on a particular embellishment that's giving you trouble, such as grips or taurluaths. McGillivray advises that regular practice on simple gracenotes is also important, and getting them strong and crisp also translates into improvements in doublings and other more complex embellishments as well.

Good luck!
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:55 AM   #16
Bill Urquhart
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

So what you need are relaxation techniques.

The best trick I've seen is to sit down with the sole of your practice chanter resting on the table. Move your hands into position to play, then move your right hand thumb ENTIRELY off of the chanter. Without that thumb touching the practice chanter at all, go up and down the scale. Repeat until you can go up and down the scale at parade march tempo, then do it with G gracenotes. Then E gracenotes. Then the tough part, D gracenotes. You CAN do it with a little effort. Then try a couple of simple tunes. Keep your top hand just as relaxed as your bottom hand-- top thumb just barely pressing hard enough to keep air escaping from the high A hole. It will be hard and you'll have to really concentrate in order to play cleanly and to keep your lower thumb off the chanter; remember what that concentration feels like, because it's the same degree of concentration you're going to need to apply to keep your hands relaxed once you play with your thumb back on the chanter. Now, when you DO put your thumb back on, remember that with a little work, you were able to play just fine without any back pressure from your thumb, so you should be able to just lightly rest the thumb there. This will all force you to relax while playing, great training. Try this for a couple of minutes at the very start of each practice session until you can play relaxed.
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Old 08-01-2008, 04:55 PM   #17
bob864
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill from MA
I do have a death grip. It is something that I am aware of and trying to correct.
The only advice I have there is to just always be aware and work on using a looser grip.

Once you've got the looser grip, one thing that will make it impossible to play with faster fingers is if you're thinking about it. Once you really learn how to play something, like say an E doubling or a taorluath, then you just have to let your fingers know what you've taught them and not think *about* doing it. If there's any thinking *about* how to play embellishments they're going to necessarily come out too slowly. So try something like clearing your mind and focusing on the sound you want to hear while you try to get your fingers to make that sound without thinking about how to get them to do it.

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Old 08-05-2008, 09:05 AM   #18
WileyBagpipes
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Just to add another thought....

Often when I speak to a student about "slow fingers" I am referring to the actual speed at which the fingers move to change from one big note to another.

Sometimes (usually new students) have a problem with mentally putting the note on the staff together with the finger movements required to get to it, and the mental pause becomes physical in the movement of the fingers. I always encourage them to visualize what fingers need to move FIRST then (as Richard put it ) snap them to the next note. As their recognition of the process improves the time they have to think about it becomes shorter, but all along their finger movements are sharper or quicker.

I have had a few students who came from somewhere else and were not taught this way and their finger movements tended to have this slow-motion effect in not transition. In those cases, it is as Richard said you have to retrain the muscle memory in the hands to move more quickly.

one low-tech and cheap way to help maintain/develop the "fast twitch" muscle movement is individual finger exercising. After stretching your fingers a bit, lay your hand flat on a surface and then isolate one finger and raise it up and lower it repeatedly as fast as you can. You can do this for several minutes (or until your finger gets tired) then switch to another finger. by slowly increasing the speed of the movement you will build up the motor response governing the finger.

Hope that helps! (and theres no scale while you do it!)
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:26 AM   #19
Mike Lynch
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Guinness and Tullamore DEW have helped me. Besides getting younger, I think our options are limited. I use a Gripmaster at work to build strength and flexibility, but I'm not sure it helps with speed. I guess my advice would be practice, practice, practice (on your PC until you get up to speed) and then work on transferring that to your pipes.

Good luck!
Mike
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:49 AM   #20
bob864
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Default Re: Curing Slow Fingers

Quote:
Originally Posted by WileyBagpipes
one low-tech and cheap way to help maintain/develop the "fast twitch" muscle movement is individual finger exercising. After stretching your fingers a bit, lay your hand flat on a surface and then isolate one finger and raise it up and lower it repeatedly as fast as you can.
Interesting!

I just tried that out, using both index fingers at the same time. I found I can make my g-finger move up and down faster than my d-finger. My B and E fingers are slow-pokes.
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