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New science: how to improve your piano playing with Hawk-eye 3D technology

The University of Southampton has developed a technique for studying hand function during piano playing which, potentially, can show why you always crash in the middle of the Brahms D-minor concerto.

It involves Hand And Wrist Kinematics (HAWK) in which electrodes applied to the hand and forearm reveal a pattern of movements that can identify methods to play a passage better and, more vitally, avert repetitive strain injury through early diagnosis.

The tech was developed by Dr Cheryl Metcalf, lecturer in biomechanics who was working on rehabilitation in stroke patients, and it is being applied to music by the pianist David Owen Norris. Here’s the demo video.

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  1. Everybody is unique. Everybody’s hands are different. Allowing a person the space to discover how the music becomes part of them is how they would become relaxed, I think. This machine might help, but the end goal could never be the machine telling you, you’re relaxed. The end goal could only be seeing how the music is part of you. If it is only some calculation of a machine as to whether you’re relaxed, than this could a major distracting to a true goal. Such a machine should be helpful, but it can’t at all replace the real lesson. And every “great” pianist has different hands, and a different personality, and something that became completely their own. Keeping a catalog of this could be quite interesting, but there’s no magical answers there either…

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