Joe's Blog

Practice Procedures: Part 14: The “Plastic” or “Protean” Hand.

March 31, 2017


The hand has the ability to hold in it objects of every size, shape and description.  No thought goes into taking any of these objects into our hand.  The process is automatic and not conscious.   In fact if we try to be conscious of how take object in our hand, we find that the process is no longer smooth but proceeds awkwardly.   If you would like to try this, consciously observe and control the movements of your hands in order to take hold of a glass of liquid.   Another way of appreciating this ability of the hand, is ask it how it got into whatever position it is in at this moment: what route did it take from the last place it was; from what angle did it approach it; how far did it move from its last resting place.  These questions should be unanswerable and should remain consciously unanswerable.

In addition to this great pliability, the duration in time between the hand assuming one position or shape to the next can be almost too short to notice.   The hand should never cling to any object it holds, or the progress of these changing shapes is interfered with.

If one were to examine the shape of the hand at different moments in a piece of music, we would discover it being in numerous subtly, and not so subtly, different positions and shapes.  This is the gift of our hand to us.  It should never cling to any one position.  We only get into trouble at the piano when we try to predetermine the position and shape that our hand should be in for the next note(s), for in that case, at best, from moment to moment, our hand would be only approximately in the most natural position, and is to some extent forced and stiff.

If we think of the topology of the white and black notes, which ones are at the top of their key dip and which are depressed, then we can think of this topology as a momentary object, with a shape, that the hand can naturally take to its own.  A shape not just among the fingers but of the hand as a whole.

An implied part of this process of going from one shape to another, is that the hand has just as spontaneous an ability to loose or give up the current shape it is in, as it is to be in the next required position.  The hand benefits from having a total amnesia of its shape, so that the next position or shape it assumes can be without owing anything to a past shape or position.

Related Posts


Leave Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *