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Diminished 7th Stretching Exercises

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The following is part of the technical regime of a well-respected teacher, and is quoted from an interview given in 1971.

"Start with the diminished seventh chord on C. Place the hand on the keys and depress the keys with a firm attack, keeping the elbow close to the body, raising the top knuckles so that there is an arch....."

"Slowly stretch the fifth finger as high as possible, staying in the air the same length of time as on the keyboard. Play four times, forte, counting one "and" two "and" three "and" four "and" (M.M. quaver = circa 50)."

"Do the same with the fourth finger which stretches out straight and pulls inward. There should be no movement from the arm, and keep the elbow close to the body for these stretching exercises."

"Then do the same with the third and second fingers and the thumb. Each time play from the top knuckle, lifting the finger straight, keeping the wrist low. The lower the wrist, the more pull there is on the muscle. Lift the finger straight but come down with the finger curved which again gives more pull on the muscle. If you lift the third finger, for example, as high as possible and hold your forearm with your other hand, you will feel the pull of the muscle — it moves back and forth......."

It should be emphasised that this regime is from a highly revered teacher, whose excellent qualities would have far outweighed any faults — but so it is with all of us — is it not? — R. B.

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