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Piano Technique - Glossary

1. The hand, fingers and “ossicles” (knuckles)*

*косточка (in Russian) and kostka (in Polish) mean small bone
and, among others, metacarpophalangeal joint (knuckle) - read please below pictures

Here are a few abbreviations used on this site:
MA - motor apparatus,
RH - right-hand,LH - left-hand, HS - hands separately, HT - hands together

The differences between everyday, scientific and pianistic language can be at the root of poorly understood pedagogic notions. From an anatomical viewpoint, the hand makes up the last part (distal, i.e. distant) of the superior member (going from the wrist downwards).

On the other hand, in everyday and pianistic language this term often describes the entire member. For example, we say “hands up” and not “arms up” or, even worse, “upper members up!” As a general rule, on this site I use day-to-day expressions and if there is any doubt, I will try to be more precise.

(move the cursor over photo n°1a)

The expression “metacarpal ossicles” (used by Neuhaus and on this site) refers to the metacarpophalangeal joints found at the base of the fingers where they join the hand. IMPORTANT: this is not an anatomical expression! One must not confuse the “ossicles” with the “metacarpal bones” (see the illustrations above and in the next chapter).

Metacarpal “ossicles” make up the all-important pivot points that regulate the force of the “rear guards” that must arrive at the “front line”, in other words, the precise contact between the finger and the key. In the Russian and Polish pianistic tradition, the term “ossicle” (“косточка” in Russian and “kostka” in Polish) refers to the joint situated at the base of the finger. This term is not very logical, because it is not about the entire metacarpal bone, but only its distal end . Nonetheless, since this name is still used in the Russian and Polish languages, I will continue to use it here in the English version in order to avoid any confusion. You will find additional information about how the ossicles work in many chapters.


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