Attacking the Piano Keyboard


in Methods, Performance

The approach and attack one applies to the striking the keys on the piano can make all the difference in the world to the sound that is produced.

Hand Position and Action at the Keyboard

There are a different ways that piano students are taught when it comes to applying your hands at the keyboard. Examples of how students get taught to use staccato or loudness vary by teacher and technician.

The issue becomes of the approach used to teach these techniques can and does make a huge difference in the sound. A stiff striking of the keys can create a stark harsh sound where as a fluid motion will produce a smooth full bodied sound. The light fingers of the french methods create a light airy sound, but often lack warmth.

Play One Note This Way

One way to envision this technique is to visualize how one might approach playing just one single note.

Play the note by:

  1. Stab at the note with your finger.
  2. holding your hand above the keyboard and using only your finger to play the note. Don't let any other part of your hand move.
  3. place your fingers on the keyboard with your wrist level, now let your wrist drop do the work and allow your finger to play the note as the happens.
  4. next using the placement above drop your wrist and and roll your hand forward like you were going to wrap your hand around something. The motion will be down and in to the piano.
  5. last place your hand very relaxed as if you were sitting with your hands in your lap (hand will be slightly rotated from square) attempt to pick up the note with your thumb and middle finger. That is you're trying to pick up a coin off the key as it gets played.

Hopefully you were able to hear the differences sound. This works on digital pianos as well, at least the more advanced ones. This experiment is meant to show you that there are many ways to play a note and create different quality of sounds. It becomes ultimately important when expressing your music.

This is a technique area that all keyboard playing students should study. However, the majority of teachers haven't studied this in sufficient detail to provide adequate instruction. So what to do?

Russian Technical Regimen.

I studied techniques like this that are part of the Russian Regimen and found that the power to create the great sound of the the top performers comes from the power of the body. Learning this method is available form Alexander Peskanov's series of Russian Technical Regimen.

Alex has a complied a number of workbooks to implement and study the techniques. You can check out the many of them at and I suggest you start here:

Alexander Peskanov's the Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano Introduction and Guide (Alexander Peskanov's the Russian Technical Regimen for the Piano (Series of 6 books), Introduction and Guide, Volume 1)


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