Piano Technique Hand Positions


in Methods, Performance

Continuing on the theme of piano technique and applying hand positions, look at how you sit and place your hands at the keyboard.

Some teach that the high wrist and holding your hands up is the way to start however, others believe that a relaxed light resting of the hands at the keyboard is the way to go.

Physics of Hand Position

When you hold your hands high you have to apply a measure of muscle tension or action. This leads to strain and unnatural actions of your playing action.

However, when sitting in a relaxed position and then beginning to play you can react in a natural flow of grabbing, approaching, and attacking the keyboard.

Have you ever used chop sticks or watch someone try it for the first time. They try to hold the sticks actively and after a short period of time they drop them and shack their hands from the strain of trying to over control them. It isn't until they have learned to relax and play with them that it begins to become an easy and effortless task.

The same is true of playing any instrument. So if you'll learn to relax and use fluid motion you're going to find that playing becomes more effortless and you have more endurance.

Physics of Finger Position

Sit down at your keyboard and put your hands up ready to play. Are your fingers extend:

  1. Fully – almost straight out like you were going to put your hands on the table.
  2. Partially curved – like you were about to pick up a small ball
  3. Closed up under your palms – look like fists and if you played you would be doing it on your fingernails

In the first position the effort need to move the fingers takes a fair amount of effort. This is due to the full extension leverage principle that takes effect. Although it takes less force to move your finger, the entire finger has to travel and is slower to respond. You will use this position when you are stretching to play octaves and larger spaced notes.

Partially curved fingers are a great place to start. This gives you an ability to play most notes and chords in a relaxed easy to reach state. You have more control over the application of strength and emphasis.

Closed up, wrist like approaches are great for tight, high control embellishments. You have the maximum control of your fingers and even playing on the fingernails. This is the best position to play mordants, trills (two notes quickly played in a row), or turns.

Learning hand and finger positions and actions is a critical step in playing any instrument. Here we looked at just the beginning effort to playing a piano or keyboard and what three simple positions might do for you.

Take some time to sit at your keyboard and experiment with these ideas. If you have a guitar maybe you can strum using similar hand configurations.

Let me know what you discovered, and how you're making use of this information.

Russian Technical Regimen.

The power to create and control great sound is produced from the use of the upper body. One great place to start in learning this method is available form Alexander Peskanov’s series of Russian Technical Regimen. :

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)


Okitiakpe Jones October 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

i want to be a professional piano player…. do you mind giving me some lessons???

Brad_C October 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Sorry, I don’t give private lessons, this site will however, help you with the theory aspect. If you truely want to be a professional, you will have to put in the time and likely need to find a mentor that you can work with that is physically close by. There is simply no substitute for that teacher student interaction. Best of luck.

Piano Technique December 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Best tips to play the piano There are lots of techniques to practice the piano.
I like to divide a piece into small parts, then put them together to make a longer tune till you
reach a complete music sentence. Practicing with one hand at a time usually is the best way.
Try to do …

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