Teaching Little Hands Technique Part 3

technique part threeDo you’re students joints collapse when they play? Some children don’t find week finger joints to be a struggle, but many do. Often times if you have a student who is “double jointed” then they are going to have quite a challenge learning to play without collapsing joints.

One of the common approaches  to working with students who have week finger joints is that it will improve with time. I have a few concerns with this philosophy. First, is that student’s who are double jointed do not find this skill just “improves with time”. I know because I personally am double jointed and this approach didn’t work so great for me. Second, all teachers know that to play certain literature well you can not have collapsing joints. So what happens when a student can do many other things well and is ready to play more advanced literature, but their joints are still week? Is there a way to more specifically help students improve these week joints?

Here are just a few tips that I have found useful in my teaching.

1. Practice Slowly. How can students learn to play without “bending fingers” if they are playing so fast the can’t watch what their fingers are doing?

2. Give the concept a fun name to help them remember. I like to call them “squishy fingers”. I have also heard them referred to as spatulas because of the spatula shape they make. Or create your own meaningful phrase.

3. Have students pick only one finger to keep track of and watch at a time. This helps make practice more focused and gives a more measurable goal for students who can’t achieve perfection immediately.

4. Turn it into a game. Create a reward system for when they play correctly. Count with animals etc.

What causes collapsed joints anyway?

When I was in college my professor told me that the reason my left hand finger 5 was collapsing was because the balance of my hand was “off”. When I properly distributed the weight, my finger 5 was immediately fixed. She compared my left hand to a table that wobbles due to uneven legs. Though I am no expert at fixing a student’s hand when the weight is not distributed properly. I do try to keep this in mind and make sure that a student’s arm is properly aligned with the finger(s) that is playing.


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