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Right hand problems, surgery, Alexander Technique, Tai Chi, out of print books

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22nd August, 2003


I am a student of Alexander Technique here in València (in the Catalonian area of the Spanish State), because of problems in my right hand (I am left-handed) derived from my wrong use of myself when playing and studying piano. Due to that I had surgery on my hand (a relief of the 5th extensor tendon) six years ago (now I am 27) but, although the operation didn't go badly, it still didn't allow me to resume regular study of the piano. Here in Spain there are 10 years of study at the Conservatory and I could only finish the 8th course by the time I was 18. Then I studied all subjects in Composition followed by Philosophy at the University.

An acute crisis in my right hand caused by a session of piano study last year made me search for information in the internet, and I discovered the Alexander Technique. I contacted a teacher and since then I have been taking lessons. To gain a deep understanding of this new approach to the piano I want to get as much good information about piano technique as possible, and in your excellent website you highly recommend the book by Otto Ortmann “The Physiological Mechanics of Piano Technique” published in 1930 and today, 73 years later, out of print.

I wanted to ask you for some information: If the copyright laws allow one to dispose freely of the contents of this book, having passed more than 70 years from its first edition, would it be possible to get it in an electronic format such as .pdf, and free of cost (bearing in mind that availability is the main problem and not money)? Further, do you know of any web project oriented to gather this kind of literature, difficult -or impossible- to find, that doesn't seem to interest the publishers any longer and that is of vital interest for the community of pianists?

Thank you in advance for your attention,

Joan (València)

I could only recommend www.amazon.com, who have an excellent second hand book service. In fact I recently purchased the Ortmann book through them. It arrived promptly, was reasonably priced and in good condition. If anyone knows of a website such as Joan is asking about, I would very much like to hear about it!

Richard B

On 8th December Joan wrote:

Practice of Tai Chi (not fake Tai Chi, which is a corruption or an alteration of serious Tai Chi, probably due to its high demand nowadays in Western countries) is very interesting and stimulating in gaining control and strength over the limbs and the self as a whole (not only the body). This fact could be an indirect help for people with reumatoid problems and RSI. It's not only about “relaxing”; when you practice the goal is to acquire a state of active quietness not contrary to the movement, but just favourable to it, in order to employ only the muscles needed specifically. Obviously, it isn't necessarily connected with religion or mysticism etc, although it has been cultivated by Buddhists and Taoists. And I think it has some principles, theoretical and practical, that are closely related to the world of music, valuable especially to players and music makers.

Thank you again for your attention. The more we share, the better will be the solutions to our problems! Bye!

Joan (València)

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