Pain in the Thumb Solution One: No Motion in the Thumb Independently of the Hand as a Whole.
Example: Right Hand Playing A Scale Upwards.
Pause in the scale on the note played just before passing under the thumb. While paused, don’t let the thumb make any anticipatory gesture of moving under another finger. Just relax and pause.
Raise the entire hand, vertically, until it is several inches above the keyboard. While doing this the thumb makes no movements independent of the hand as a whole.
Have the arm transport the entire hand rightwards, until the thumb, still just an undifferentiated part of the hand, is poised over the note that it is about to play.
Simply lower the hand back down onto the keyboard. Still without any particular motion in the thumb that is not simply the result of moving the entire hand at once.
Sound the next note by moving the mass of the combined arm and hand.
Get used to there being a silence in the scale between the end of the note before the thumb is used, and the note on which the thumb is used.
Gradually the silence between the notes will shrink towards zero, while the absence of independent motion of the thumb still remains.
Pain in the Thumb. Solution Two: Tug of War.
Example: Right Hand playing a C Major Scale Upwards.
My third finger is on an E and I am about to play the adjacent F with the thumb. Imagine a tug of war with the two sides, initially, pulling with the same strength.
On the right side of this tug of war is the entire arm, wrist and hand, which pulls to the right. On the other side it is just the third finger alone, on the E, resisting, with equal force, this tug to the right.
At first no one ‘wins’. Each ‘team’ escalates how hard they are pulling, but the increments are done at the same time in each ‘team’ and in equal degrees, so that no movement occurs. This process continues until the finger can exert no more force to resist the more powerful rightward pull of the arm. As the third finger suddenly lets go of the E key, and the arm and hand, including the thumb, lurches to the right, with great stored up power, and the thumb travels to the F so quickly that it is almost with conscious duration.
Pain in the Thumb. Solution Three: Let the Thumb Move, But “Glacially” Slow.
Example: Right Hand Playing A C Major Scale Upwards.
My third finger is an the E and I am about to play the adjacent F with the thumb. If I slow down the motion , and watch the motion of the thumb, I notice that what I experience is less a single motion, in a single direction, but a connected series of smaller motions.
The more I slow down the motion, and the longer it takes, the more I become aware of the changes that are occurring within the course of the thumb’s overall motion. Granted these changes happen very fast, and are usually lost to consciousness, which treats the overall passing motion of the thumb as a single event. But even in speed, when the total movement takes just a fraction of a second to execute, we still want the it to be composed of a series of finer qualities of motion occurring one after the other.
A considerable amount of relaxation is required for the thumb to transition smoothly from one component of the overall passing motion to the next. If there is pain, it is likely due to a momentary tension in the thumb muscles that resists the transition to the next quality of the overall motion. This resistance is often an attempt to prolong one of the shorter, interior states of motion, at the very moment when a change in the course of the motion is required.
Pain in the Thumb. Solution Four: Congruence Between the Thumb and the Piano Key
The attempt here is to form a continuous, undifferentiated mass out of the hand, the thumb, and the physical key of the piano. To achieve this we want there to be a congruence between the longitudinal surface of the thumb and the longitudinal surface of the key. The side of the thumb should touch, in as many spots as possible, different spots on the surface of the key.
The fingers of the hands should be like when a sculptor creates a statue and leaves out a complete separation between one finger and the next. If the sculpture became alive the only way a single finger would move at all is if the hand and the other fingers move with it. If the sculptor then adds a piano key to the sculpture, but does it by extending the material used for the hand and fingers, the key and the thumb will be permanently attached to each other.
In line with this sculptural analogy, if the pianist wants to move a key up and down, to create and then release a sound, it can only be done by a motion of the entire mass that results from the fusion of the key, the finger, and the hand. While granted this procedure is, to say the least, unusual, one result will be that there is little or no activity in the thumb muscles on their own. This puts this technique in line with the three previously techniques offered as ways of dealing with pain in the thumb. Without any separate motion in the thumb, there is hopefully nothing to cause pain in the finger.
Practice Technique Number 24 for Relaxation: Using Slower and Slower Motions.
Take any motion of any part of the body, regardless of the measurement of the distance it travels in space, close the eyes, perform the movement over one second, then over two seconds, four, eighth, sixteen seconds, and continue this doubling process out indefinitely, -but- only as long as within or during these durations you never loose the internal sensation that motion is continuing to occur.
This is an excellent way to induce relaxation in the muscles, and to explore (in depth) the ambit of the motion. If, every once in a while, there is a twitching motion in the part that is moving, interpret it not so much as a jerkiness but as a muscle or muscles relaxing.