Joe's Blog


November 9, 2020

By the “helping hand” I mean a hand that is momentarily not playing

notes, or is momentarily exempted by the pianist from playing its

notes and which can therefore be used during the interim for other purposes.


The fact that our body is bilaterally symmetric opens up the

possibility that things a single hand cannot execute easily at the

keyboard can be influenced by, prompted by, encouraged by, conducted

by, supported physically by, what the other hand is doing.


The secret is in the union of the two hands and the two arms.


What does it take to produce this union or at least make us aware that

the apparent separateness of the hands and arms in space can obscure

an organic harmony between the two?


By joining the two hands together through interlacing the fingers we

suddenly change two separate arm structures into one continuously

circulating, circle like object, connected through the shoulders, that

can easily be moved as a single unit without particular reference to

what one side if doing versus the other.  


This, now single, object isn’t broken at the shoulders, any more than

between the interlaced fingers.  It is easily felt to continue its

circumference between the shoulders through muscles, bones, and

integuments of the upper back.  


We can experiment with moving this ‘circle’ around as a whole in

space.  One way is to rhythmically raise and lower the conjoined

fingers.  This puts the entire circle in motion, with a facilitating

hinge between the two shoulders.


While thus moving the circle of the arms try to notice what you feel

on the left side of the circle versus the right side.  The fingers

that are touching produce among them a joint (combined) sensation, it being hard to figure out which part of that sensation belongs specifically to the right

fingers or the left fingers.  It is a true unity of the fingers of both hands that we have suddenly created.  


The same is true if we pick any other two corresponding parts of the

circle.  For instance, if we ask what one elbow is contributing to the

overall sensation of motion of the circle versus the other, we are

hard put to answer this question.  We would have slow the motion down

and even stop it and then try to budge one elbow versus another.

Perhaps it is better for me to put it this way: it is much more

difficult than doable to trace the origin of the overall sense of

motion, at any given moment, to one elbow versus another.


If we now, without ceasing lifting and lowering the ‘circle’, slowly

separate the fingers and the hands.  Our circle, rather than

disappearing, simply enlarges in diameter.  Imaginary forces like

electric sparks, or the visible rung of electric current along the

invisible rungs of a “Jacob’s ladder”, seem to continue to connect the



Or we can imagine that we are holding an elastic band between the

hands which simply stretches but does not break if we move the hands

apart from each other.  Through means such as these we can retain the

feeling of a continuous circle made up out of the two upper limbs of

the body.


It is not a great stretch of the imagination to feel that the hands

are moving together as one larger unit and yet at the level of finest

detail different tasks are being assigned to the subtlest motions of

the finger tips.



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