hi there! i've been playing the piano for years, first being classically tutored during my pre-teen to teen years before i lost my professor. throughout those years, i've been using the traditional curved fingers/hand method and i always thought that was really the only way to play. just now while i was looking for reading materials to improve my technical playing, i stumbled upon a book and some articles on the net about flat fingers position.

according to what i've read, the ffp makes your fingers more relaxed and you can actually move and play better using it because the curved position is "unnatural" for the hands. there was even a simple example where it told you to make your hand flat, raise your index finger, then wiggle it around. it was easy alright. next it asked to curve your hand/fingers and try to wiggle the same index finger around. wow, i quickly noticed the difference in the effort i placed in trying to move that finger around!

i'm on my way to trying it out and actually playing something on the keyboard using the ffp just to see how it really feels, but i still want to hear from the more experienced pianists who have been using ffp for years. how does it feel to you now after using it for so long? do you still feel the need to go back to the curled position? are there any traps involved when using ffp that might be noticeable at first but will cause trouble later on?

by the way, i'm really interested in the use of ffp in jazz. one of my dreams as a pianist (non-pro lol!) is to play jazz improvisation where i can reach the speed that i'm thinking of in my head (like how most bebops are fast in certain areas) without having to struggle as much. it's just that i have no trouble of coming up with made-up tunes in my head (and i remember the tunes i've listened to that i want to copy as well) but when it comes to actually putting it into play, i'm having trouble translating the speed into finger speed! oh yeah, my idol is bill evans but i still like the bebop bouncy tunes.

i'm just hoping that ffp will help me improve in some way, or that maybe this is one of those missing links that keeps me from progressing any further.

thanks in advance, please share your experience and advice :d
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my hand, when relaxed has a slight curve to the fingers.  that natural curve feels the most comfortable.  for what it's worth, i think of the fingers as being legs for the hand.  in order to support and use the weight of the hand and arm, there needs to be that natural curve.  however there are situations where a variance of curve can aid in a particular type of articulation, so one cannot simply say, play this way or that way.  sometimes a flatter finger might help you get the sound you want, and other times a more drastic curve might help - like when playing fast chromatics or other scalar passages.
hmm i've been feeling around it for a while and when there's not much black keys on a scale, it seems comfortable and fine, but when there's a lot, i seem to experience some trouble, maybe because i've got large fingers and i still haven't gotten used to raising them well enough.

i also read something about the thumb under vs thumb over style. the only way i've been shown was the thumb under method but when i started trying out jazz, i encountered times when the thumb under was not comfortable and feels like something's being pulled so i unknowingly started using thumb over. i didn't know people actually use that, i thought i was "cheating" and breaking some rule lol!
yeah, i think that's another issue you should only think about if you're having trouble.  the thumb will most naturally cross under when playing slow legato passages. (just try to avoid jerking your elbow up and down:) the faster you go, the more it will want to  hop a bit:)
there are times and places for flat and curved fingers.  i think it boils down to using whatever method, fingerings, and other technique that lets you do what you want on the piano in the most efficient and yes, safe, manner.

claude bolling said that it's important to be able to play all the scales with the c fingering for example.  it doesn't work out as far as "feeling right" goes, but it really helps you jam out when you're hand isn't in the exact right position to do what you want.

flat fingers vs curved- like i said, there's a time and a place for those and other methods.  the only real question is safety and efficiency.  it might be easier to do something one way, but if you get carpal tunnel syndrom after two years of it, you just lost a lot of piano time.

here's the safety thing about flat fingers:  it's not as healthy for your tendons as curved fingers are.  why?  because flat fingers are not a relaxed position.  your hands naturally fall into curves.  if you are stretching your tendons out and playing flat finger style, eventually you're going to have problems because the tendons are being forced into an unnatural position and being stressed at the same time.  perfect weather for some sort of over-use syndrom or tendonitis (and it will show up in your shoulders and elbows too for some reason.)

i've seen it in teachers, performers, and students.

that's not saying you can't use it, just use it when you need to and otherwise try to keep your fingers as natural as possible, which is of course, slightly curved.

i got more :)

it's imperative to have a loose wrist when you are playing piano.  did you know that with flat fingers it's almost impossible to have a loose wrist?  that's cause you are flexing forearm and wrist muscles just to flatten out your fingers.

when you play with a stiff wrist, you loose technique, fluidity, and velocity, and you will develop shoulder issues eventually if you play a lot.

so, in summary, flat fingers may work technically on the piano and i agree there are times it is useful to play like that, but for health and longevity, you're going to hurt for it later on.  people who say otherwise probably don't play that much, are lying, and/or don't play at the level where it makes any difference.
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well said, dr. scot
that shoulder pain part really caught my attention. yesterday after playing for a couple of hours trying the flat fingers i did feel some discomfort on the shoulder but i thought it's just because i carried some boxes of christmas decoration.

thanks for the advice!
very well said scot.  when the majority of human beings stand with their arms at their sides, their hand forms a natural curve.  there is more or less a straight line along the arm, wrist, and back of the hand.  that keeps any of your ligaments from tightening or stretching from a raised or lowered wrist or fingers.  maintaining that natural position when you're at the piano can help prevent injuries and improve your facility.  a lady named dorothy taubman (https://vimeo.com/9010208) has a really good handle on the physiology of piano playing and has helped a lot of players.
i didn't know about how location of your fingers on the keyboard can affect the sound, i never tried it on a real piano before:o too bad i only have a dgx-505 piano so i don't think there would be a difference in sound if i played near the top of the keys.  

happy new year by the way everyone:)
the location of your fingers will change the sound on your keyboard as well.  it's physics- the closer your are to the fulcrum, the more force it takes to move the lever. in this case, the closer you are to the backs of the keys, the less motion you get and the more force it takes to move them.  so it's pretty easy to get a softer sound when playing near the back of the keys; you don't get the full swing of the key.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

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add me to the anti-flat-finger faction.
i tried it and i can't do it anyway.  

how do you get your thumb to reach to a key if all your other four fingers are laying flat? are you talking about sticking your fingers way up in-between the black keys almost to the back board? i don't get it.

*my* fingers get stuck inside the black keys! maybe some people's fingers are skinnier than mine, but i'm a fairly average size person (175 lbs - 6'0").

ditto natural curve

ditto tension

add loss of control

for a person with even a moderate degree of double-jointedness (the vast majority of humans), applying pressure on the keys with flatted fingers causes the fingers to bow backwards-upwards.

this is neither a comfortable position nor, i would think "stress-less", on the hand and its finger joints.

if someone can come up with a good argument for playing truly flat-fingered, i'll try it - but for the life of me i can't even get past the mechanics at this point.
you can play with flat fingers to achieve a "whispering" sound, but then the movement will be active from the wrist.
here are examples of sound -  at first with rounded  fingers, then  with flats :

1. roland fp4
2. acoustic piano

by the way: with straight fingers comfortable to play when they put almost vertically almost at right angles to the keyboard.
flat fingers on black keys, curved on white keys. flat fingers also help you find your way around the keys by brushing over the surface of the black keys without playing them. curled fingers are not good at it.
i saw some music the other night and the pianist was playing with seriously flat fingers.  i could tell he was using pure finger strength to get sound on the piano.  this guy was jamming and sounded great, but he was working awfully hard.

on break i asked him about it and he said he learned to play on an organ first and moved to piano later in life (i usually hear the opposite story, interesting!).  as we talked about it i asked if he experienced fatigue in his hands, wrists, arms, etc... while playing and he said after a gig his arms hurt from the shoulders down.

i got him to come in for a piano lesson to see what we could do.  put him on some hanon exercises, some arpeggios, etc... got him to use forearm weight to get sound out of the piano instead of just his fingers.

so i just got off the phone with him and sounds like he's ready to preach against flat fingers because apparently last night while he was gigging he focused on finger/wrist/arm position and said that at the end of the night he felt as fresh as he did at the beginning.  and that's only with a week of working on it!

people tell me they are tired after gigs and i've always wondered about it because my hands/wrists/arms never feel tired after a gig. in this case the guy's flat fingers were taking it out of him.

hopefully this second hand experience will help some folks!
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