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That darn'd fourth finger............


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Hi Bill!

On 6/13/2022 at 2:04 PM, Bill Merkel said:

What are the grounds?  I'd say unless the study's flawed, there is some significance, just because the absence is quite lower in musicians. 

Where to start?  Since I assume that you read the article you'll be aware that the study is predicated on a single piece of hearsay correspondence from a child.  It's not so much that the study justifies this approach to signifying possible effect in an adult population, but rather the quite evident (and partially acknowledged) focus on the presence or absence of this single physical attribute as a determining factor of a child's likelihood of achievement - and further, reaching this conclusion based upon a study of middle-aged adults.  And yes, things like a paralyzed hand can present insurmountable difficulties to a would-be violinist.  Such difficulties would be directly demonstrable.  Since the conclusion in this paper results from an implication rather than a demonstration, these authors try to preclude objection by asserting that compensation or alleviation by dedicated study effectively does not occur: "Because an anatomical variation is fixed, training and strengthening exercises will be unlikely to correct any issues of technique that arise as a result."  Yet this may be precisely what the study illustrates - that training and strengthening in the course of professional practice eliminates the subject symptoms in many cases.  Cause and effect seem to be inadequately differentiated.  I may change my mind after I have some coffee, but for now....

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On 1/30/2014 at 12:02 AM, LovingMusic said:

 I take that as a hint, that systematic exercises can have surprising positve results and that the positive tests of the violinists in the study may be the result and not the cause of their success in playing the violin.

If I had read this before posting I would have quoted LovingMusic and saved myself some effort.

 

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10 hours ago, Dr. Mark said:

Hi Bill!

Where to start?  Since I assume that you read the article you'll be aware that the study is predicated on a single piece of hearsay correspondence from a child. 

I went to the original source, which wasn't "hearsay from a child" (WTF), and it says the absence of this is a factor of 10 lower in professional string players.  Claims that you can compensate, etc. are irrelevant.  The bottom line is the incidence in professional string players is significantly different.  What does it mean?  Does it even mean that in fact you really can't compensate?  Don't try to sound exasperated with me because I will exasperate you for real until you get real, or i write you off, which is really what's next.

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Since there don't seem to be additional questions or discussion,  I'll tie up some loose ends by citing my references:

[1]  'Assessment of the presence of independent flexor digitorum superficialis function in the small fingers of professional string players: Is this an example of natural selection?', Godwin, Y., G.A.C. Wheble, C. Feng, J. Hand Surgery (E), Vol. 39E(1) pp. 93-100 (2014).  I downloaded this paper from ResearchGate at no cost, and it is the source of the Strad article, as cited on March 29th by BernieR. 

Per my observation that the research was predicated on a single piece of hearsay: [2] This study was conceived after an 11-year-old patient volunteered that she had given up playing the violin because of difficulty and discomfort manoeuvring [sic] the left small and ring fingers independently. On examination, she was found to have absent FDS function in the small finger", ibid, p 99.  This quote is the entirety of the Discussion section's first paragrpah.

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^Are you able to understand that the motivation for the research is irrelevant, and the research itself and its finding is the significant thing?  The motivation could be a bunion on the latest fired Russian conductor's toe and it wouldn't matter.  What are you a Dr. of?  Not something involving life and death, I pray.

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Bill - Let's stop with the ad hominem b.s. ok?  If you're satisfied with your own arguments you certainly don't need my concurrence.  There are a lot of constructive and interesting places this conversation could still go, unless you want to go through with your earlier threat.  And if  I screw up in my work then yes, a lot of kids could die needlessly and that may make me both overly conservative in what I accept as significant research, and what details indicate that additional questions need to be asked before accepting published results.  Enough of that.  So...do you teach violin?  If so, what physical characteristics do you think are essential to a student's ability to excel?

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Btw my position and suggestion regarding the subject researchhasn't changed - and I am still willing to discuss my specific objections.  It might be of interest to first read some related articles, for example this paper by J. Ioannidis: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/.

The title of this paper is 'Why Most Published Research Findings Are False' and it is available from the National Library of Medicine.  The subject of Ioannidis' research rather amusingly brushes us up against self-referential paradoxes and Gödel's incompleteness theorem, as it concerns published research.  In this article Ioannidis brings up the effect of 'pre-study odds' alluded to by my earlier expressed concern regarding hearsay evidence. To lend some additional support that Ioannidis is taken seriously in the medical field and elsewhere, here is a discussion of the issues he raises published in the AMA Journal of Ethics:
 
https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/when-research-evidence-misleading/2013-01,
 
and an in-depth discussion of the topic, with examples and interesting results obtained from a
predictive model:
 
https://elifesciences.org/articles/21451

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On 6/13/2022 at 6:55 AM, Shunyata said:

I'll let Ivan Galamian know that he should stop talking about the difference between arm vibrato and finger vibrato.  :-)

Umm...Is Galamian still teaching in the afterlife?  Are you posting from the afterlife? :P

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