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J Biomech. 1998 Nov;31(11):1063-7.

Assessment of dynamic finger forces in pianists: effects of training and expertise.

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  • 1Institute for Musicphysiology and Performing Arts Medicine, University of Music and Theatre Hannover, Germany.


Playing a musical instrument requires complex sensorimotor programming of hand and finger movements. During musical training motor programs are optimized to achieve highest accuracy with a minimum of effort. In the lack of handy measurement tools these rational assumptions of piano theorists did not undergo an experimental evaluation up to now. In the present pilot study we used a dynamic pressure measurement system with the pianoforte. Three finger exercises with increasing degrees of difficulty had to be performed by a group of musical amateurs and a group of expert players. From the dynamic force measurements we calculated (a) the mean pulse per touch and (b) the mean touch-duration for each exercise and each subject. To achieve the same tempo and the same loudness, amateurs applied significantly more and longer force to the keys, leading to higher mean pulses per touch. Pulse and duration values increased with higher demands on finger coordination in both, expert pianists and amateurs. The results show that dynamic force measurement systems can support music learners and teachers in training a relaxed piano technique and preventing musicians from overuse injuries.

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