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 Pragmatic Hand Evaluation
The “Pragmatic Hand Evaluation” is an alternative to the differentiated but technically demanding Biomechanical Hand Measurement.  It is based on the same scientific results, but it limits itself to a selection of hand’s characteristics and does not rely on apparatuses . Thanks to this, every reader is able to evaluate his hand (or that of a student) independently, whereby only approx. 15 minutes are needed for each hand. Instructions and the sheets needed for measuring are enclosed in the book.

Part 1 of the Pragmatic Hand Evaluation consists in the examination of a series of test movements relevant for the handling of an instrument. Part 2 encompasses measurements of the hand’s shape and span widths. The two parts complement each other. As experience confirms by now, valuable suggestions  to  instrumental education can be derived even by means of this reduced and simplified procedure (see examples below). It can help in finding an appropriate playing technique and preventing manual over-use (For a complete description see pp. 263-270 HAND UND INSTRUMENT).

Part 1: test movements
The 11 test movements examine characteristics with strong intra-individual variations, the precise measurement of which would be very time-consuming: 
  • Pronation (Einwärtsdrehen des Unterarmes)
  • Supination (Auswärtsdrehen des Unterarmes) 
  • Abduction of the wrist in direction of the thumb
  • Flexion of thumb
  • Angles between the long fingers when spread apart
  • Abduction of thumb
  • Resistance of finger base joints during extension (2 test movements)
  • Stability of the thumb’s base joint
  • Strength within all the finger joints
  • Involuntary movements of fingers when executing other movements
The subject executes some simple movements which allow conclusions on mobility, strength and independence of finger movement in regard to instrumental playing. If the test question must be answered with "yes", this indicates a (more or less distinctive) limitation in the mentioned characteristics. Depending on the instrument, this is more or less relevant and should, if necessary, be considered in the person's technique.

for example:
Handgelenk radialDaumenbeugungAbspreizung Daumen
Spreizwinkel FingerÜberstreckung

An Example:
of the thumb
Abspreizung Daumen
maximal abgespreizter Daumen
Task: maximum spreading of the thumb  
Question: “Does the thumb (only) form an acute angle with the longitudinal axis of the hand? “(not a right or still larger angle.) 
The answer for the subject (photo) is: „Yes! “- This points at difficulties e.g. with large grips at the piano. This restriction can usually not be compensated by training, but only by other measures (fingering, adjusting movements by hand and arm, etc.).

Part 2: measuring hand form and span widths
4 measurements of hand shape and all 10 span widths are done by means of the measuring sheets enclosed in the book. The scales depicted are based on the data covering the category “Miscellaneous Instruments” (professional musicians, respectively adolescents). The result can be retrieved directly from the measuring sheet and can be inserted into a small Hand Profile. Unusually small, respectively large values become evident immediately.

The following data sheets are attached to the book:
men/women, in each case right and left hand,
young persons 10-14 and 14-17 J., left hand. 

The data sheets contain the reference scales for 14 characteristics:
hand length, hand width, fingertip distance 3-1, fingertip distance 3-5,
span widths between all fingers.
HandlängeHandbreiteDifferenz 3-1Differenz_3-5
Spanne 1-2Spanne 1-3Spanne 1-4Spanne 1-5Spanne 2-3
Spanne 3-4Spanne 4-5Spanne 2-4Spanne 3-5Spanne 2-5

Example: Data sheet "men right hand"

Messblatt Messblatt-Ausschnitt

The middle and the extrem areas are  marked differently, so that one can immediately read the result when the hand is placed on the sheet.
The results of the measurement are registered in the form for hand evaluation. As in the first part these parameters have a different significance for the individual instruments, too.

e.g.: measurement hand breadth
e.g.: measurement fingertip distance  middle finger - thumb e.g.: measurement span width 1-2
Handbreite Fingerlängendifferenz 3-1
Spannweite 1-2

EXAMPLE 1 music student, PIANO,  21 years
The student (Music-in-education studies 1st semester) experienced pain in both wrists, which had occurred for the first time during the 3-month-long intense preparation for the audition to enter music-college. Beethoven’s Sonata op.13 “Pathetique” was part of the program. 
L8_Abspreizung1The Hand Evaluation showed small  spans between the thumb and the other fingers, especially in the left hand, probably caused  by the  extremely low maximal (!) abduction of the thumb (test movement 6).
Therefore, the octave tremolo, as it is required several times during longer passages in the 1st movement of the "Pathétique", could have been one of the causes for the overuse-syndrome.
By adapting the repertoire, taking breaks after latest 10 minutes and exercises to minimize the effort of touch, a clear improvement could be observed within 3 months.
Consciously taking into account the thumbs’ reduced span widths, there remained no more obstacles to play the piano during studies.

Handeinschätzung L8_2006 Klavier

EXAMPLE 2 teacher, VIOLIN / VIOLA, 40 years
This violin und viola teacher was experiencing pain “almost everywhere” in the left hand and a disturbance of coordination in the area between the middle und small finger.
The Pragmatic Hand Evaluation showed a short hand with noticeably small span widths (extremely so between 2-3 and 4-5) as well as a reduced abduction of the thumb, little strength in the middle und end joints of the fingers and some involuntary additional movements.
For the Hand Evaluation showed largely similar limitations in both hands, it can be assumed that these limitations have in principle already existed earlier on and are not the consequence of the pain or the disturbance of coordination.

The massive disturbances of coordination appeared for the first time at age 35, during the final exam preparation for the viola degree. Already at age 14, three years after the change from the violin to the viola, tendinitis and short-term disturbances of coordination interfered with the  instrumental training. The later studies on the violin took their course free of pain and disturbance. To alleviate the situation, the student plays on a 7/8-size violin. The requirements of the viola studies following thereafter tested the limits of the hand and the strain put on it. By knowing of this Hand Evaluation, a teacher could surely have advised against studying the viola, respectively against a viola of 40cm body length.

cis4_ganze Geige
c sharp'''' on 1/1-violin
Handeinschätzung L2_2005 Violine

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