Lesson 01
Lesson 02
Lesson 03
Lesson 04
Lesson 05
Lesson 06
Lesson 07
Lesson 08
Lesson 09
Lesson 10
Lesson 11
Lesson 12
Sight Reading

Lesson 12
Lesson 12:


Guide to Photographs A & B.

In the hand and arm are some 60 muscles, those actuating the fingers being situated in the forearm. These muscles also turn the hand and bend the wrist, and are all voluntary muscles.

The chief characteristic of voluntary muscle is its contractibility under the operation of the Will, and, as is well known, the more a muscle is used, particularly if the attention of the mind be centred upon the movement, the stronger and more supple it becomes. There is of course a limit to its strength and flexibility, and any overstrain through long continued exercise, or the lifting of heavy weights, may result in deterioration.

The muscles which actuate the fingers and the ligaments which are connected with them are particularly liable to deterioration if the fingers are never fully flexed or extended, as when playing the piano or a stringed instrument, for the reason that the remaining portion of the muscle is improperly fed with vital fluid.

The exercises in this Course are designed to exercise and develop FULLY every ligament and muscle used in the playing of the piano and stringed instruments, and form a complete method of developing Strength, Flexibility and Responsiveness of the hand and fingers, for the purpose of instrumentalists, where delicacy of touch is essential.

Photo A shows the muscles of the forearm, and gives a general idea of their arrangement.

Photo B is an enlargement, the diagram on the left showing the palm, and the one on the right showing the back of the hand.

There are seven muscles in the hand itself, all situated in the palm, four leading to the thumb, and three to the fourth finger. These muscles draw the thumb and 4th finger inwards towards the palm, as well as bending them towards the wrist. The base of operations, as it were, being so much nearer than with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers, there is more control, or there should be if properly exercised, than over the other three fingers (see photo B). For lack of intelligent exercise, however, many violinists and 'cellists, and pianists also, have very little control over the 4th finger, and lesson 8 has been designed specially to develop strength and positive HAMMERING power in this finger, while a few minutes' daily practice of lessons 9 and 10 for a week will remove all difficulties so far as stretching this finger is concerned. Lesson 9 also shows the different methods of extending the 4th finger when playing in various positions on the violin.

Encircling the Wrist is a thick pad or anular ligament, the flexibility of which is a matter of supreme importance to violinists, 'cellists, and pianists.

Photo B shows this pad clearly, and it is the purpose of lesson 2 to render this ligament elastic.

Running behind this pad, from the point of view shown in photo B, may be discerned the ligaments which connect the four fingers to the muscles operating them (situated in the forearm), and in photo A the method of their attachment is clearly indicated.

Lessons 1, 3 and 5 are designed to develop quick responsiveness of these muscles, and in such a manner that the delicate attachments are not injured in any way.

Lesson 7 deals with the difficulty of separating the 2nd and 3rd fingers, and a few minutes' daily practice of this exercise for a week will accomplish more than a year's ordinary practice on the instrument itself.

Lesson 6 deals with the development of the forearm and upper arm in general, without which no system of hand and finger development would be complete.

The discerning student will have realised that the principle of concentration, which we have emphasised throughout the Course, can be applied more generally. For instance, a programme of physical culture, suitable for tennis players, golfers, etc., would be all the more effective if this principle of concentration were embodied in the schedule of exercises and also applied to the practise of the strokes used in the game concerned.

(Editor's note: the original prints for this lesson were so poorly defined that they could not be used for any practical purposes. Picture A on this page is by Jean Marc Bourgery, published in 1831-54, and bears a remarkable similarity, as far as it can be determined, to Cowling's diagram. The author of picture B is unknown - it is a composite - but it is of the same era and may be Bourgery: it is again almost identical to the print sent by Cowling.)

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