Practice Procedures: Part 18 Cradling A Part of the Playing Mechanism
April 2, 2017
Let’s say we are trying to play an even sounding scale. Our ear detects minor glitches in the flow, for instance after passing the thumb under the other fingers. The solution may often lie in examining a nearby part of the playing mechanism. I watch myself play the scale and I notice that at certain moments my wrists move unintentionally as if trying to compensate for a momentary lack of balance in the rest or the hand. The only problem is that it lingers in that position and does not instantly return to its more normal position.
So I ‘ask’ my wrist: what is it exactly that you want to do during this scale, and when do you feel you need to do it. To discover this I take my other hand and embrace the wrist of the ‘target hand’. Now I can be directly aware, through the pressure of the wrist on the embracing hand, what the target wrist is trying to do. Often the ‘answer’ is unexpected. It may include sudden and jerky motions by the wrist done to apparently to compensate for something going on in the rest of the hand.
So, now rather than embrace the wrist, I ‘cradle’ it in a ‘comforting’ and ‘protective’ environment. And I say to the wrist: whatever you think you need to do in order to balance the fingers and the hand, I, the cradling hand, will in turn support your movements and not let them become overdone. As I do this, I notice that every time the wrist wants to make a jerky motion to keep to permit something smooth in the fingers, my ‘cradling’ hand steadies the wrist so that it does not have to make too sudden, or jerky, or too large a motion in the act of taking care of the fingers.
And I discover that the unevenness that I heard in the scale was not due to the fingers as much as it is in the wrist.