Beyond tension and relaxation: Optimizing antagonistic muscular co-contraction for skilled, healthy piano technique
Up to 93% of pianists experience playing-related injuries over their lifetimes, which imperil careers, wellbeing, and music-making. Poor piano technique is often a cause of injury, also impairing overall pianistic and musical skill. Patterns of muscle use are a basic part of piano technique, but existing pedagogy is often unscientific or contradictory about muscle use; some influential pedagogues claim that using opposing muscles together (antagonistic muscular co-contraction) is harmful and counterproductive. Contrastingly, researchers in multiple fields have found that co-contraction can be healthy, and is needed to execute complex movements accurately. This study will observe co-contraction in skilled, healthy pianists, investigating its potential to prevent or reduce injuries and aid piano technique.