The muscles you used to do that are the Rhomboid muscles, or more simply, the Rhomboids. You simply cannot sit or stand up straight without your Rhomboids. As Sue will tell you, my posture isn't the best, and hence, my Rhomboids probably aren't all they could be. However, when I am at the piano, I have found that I simply MUST sit up straight, otherwise my play is really awful. So I noticed the other day, when I had reached the 30 minute mark of sustained, uninterrupted practice, that I had to rest. My mind was still sharp. I had no wrist or arm pain. Most of me wanted to continue. But my Rhomboids couldn't take any more. They needed rest. I hope they get in shape.
I am working on:
- Scarborough Fair - This is basically done. I work on it when the other pieces annoy me. I like it. If anything, it could become more musical, and smooth, especially in terms of pedaling, but I am basically done with it.
- Raisins and Almonds - There is one little measure that trips me up about halfway through (at the lyric "And the sweet years to be..."). If I used my thumb on the black keys, (you know, like I am supposed to), I'd probably be fine. But I still have some trouble, and will keep working on it until I don't.
- He's Got the Whole World in His Hands - This piece is actually a little annoying. It's the same (very simple) song, done three times, in three different keys. Still learning this one, but I am able to struggle through it.
The first time I went through He's Got the Whole World..., an extraordinary thing happened. They key signature for the first verse requires a single F-sharp. The first left hand chord is a simple triad of naturals (sorry, I haven't been doing my technique exercises, so I don't know the name for the chord off the top of my head, but it's G-B-D, as I recall, with the B and D being the keys on either side of middle C). Then the key change came, progressing to F#-C-D (I think). The extraordinary thing was that, although I knew F-sharp was part of the signature, my brain did not register that F-# was supposed to be played there. I'm not so good at reading my bass-clef notes, you see. And when I am playing, I am not reciting note names to myself, but rather the intervals from a known starting point. And yet... AND YET... my left pinky went straight to F-sharp anyway. Without my brain telling it to go there. It simply knew.
It took about ten seconds before I realized this had happened. I was stupefied. My hands (my left hand, even) responded to a musical requirement that my brain had neither registered nor communicated. Not consciously, that is. I stood up at the piano bench, and raised my arms in triumph. The dog had been looking out the front window, and looked at me like I was possessed. He was the only one to share in my glorious moment. He didn't seem that thrilled.
Because I can sort of make it through He's Got the Whole World..., I have dared to take a look at the next page, The Entertainer. I am tinkering with the preparation exercise, which purports to teach me everything (new) I need to know for The Entertainer. The early verdict: there is no way on God's Green Earth I am EVER going to be able to play this.
Which is poppycock, of course, but that's how it feels going through this intro exercise.