Being able to sit down at any piano and play starts with mastering proper piano hand position. Check out these tips to help you practice and perfect your hand positioning.
If you are a beginning baseball player, you need to learn baseball mechanics. To do so, you repeat fielding and hitting drills.
The same is true for the piano. We all want to play beautiful music full of emotion. To do so, however, you must master basic technical skills such as piano hand placement. Without it, you can’t play much of anything, let alone play something beautifully.
Are you a beginning piano player struggling with your piano hand positioning? Would you like to be able to play faster and with more agility?
If so, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll go over basic piano hand placement tips and then show you some exercises to help you improve yours! Read on for more information.
Learn all the scales with proper fingering. Scales are one of the basic building blocks of music, and if you practice scales with proper fingering, your fingers will automatically know where to go when you see parts of a scale in a piece of sheet music.
The Reasons for Working on Your Piano Hand Position
Why do we care about a good piano hand position? Does it really matter? The answer is yes. Below we’ll explore several reasons why.
First, using improper technique creates tension. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you’re practicing and performing with constant tension, it won’t be long before you feel aches and pains. Of course, playing with pain will negatively affect your piano playing and could hurt you.
It’s best, then, to learn proper piano technique, including correct hand position, early on, and continue to use it while you play.
Second, piano teachers don’t want you to use proper hand techniques because they’re trying to annoy you. The truth is, it’s actually easier to play with good technique.
For example, take two pianists. One has worked hard at their hand positioning, and the other hasn’t. No doubt the first player will be able to play not only faster but also more expressively. That’s because they’re not struggling with technical issues like the second one surely is.
For all these reasons, then, it’s a good idea for you to know where to place your hands on the piano keys. In the next section, let’s go over how to place your hands on the piano keys.
Place your right-hand number with one finger (your right thumb) on Middle C. Now place your right number 2 finger (your index finger) on the white note directly to the right of Middle C position. Your left hands and right hands are mirror images of each other, even if they’re moving in different directions or playing different patterns.
Where to Put Your Hands on the Piano: A Small Guide
After all, this, then, how should you place your hands on the piano? The first thing to consider is: how far away are you from the instrument?
It’s common for beginning piano players or piano students to sit either:
- too close to the piano, or,
- at the wrong height
Avoid those situations by adjusting your piano bench. The height should allow you to place your arms at a piano level. It’s also okay for them to be a little bit higher than the instrument.
In addition, make sure your piano bench is far enough back. Your elbows need to be in front of you. And, your arms must also extend easily in front of you, with your fingers resting on the piano keys.
It’s important not to collapse your wrists. Instead, hold them steady in a relaxed and comfortable manner.
Finally, allow your fingers to curve slightly over the piano keys. This is one of the best ways to avoid tension. It also allows you to play more efficiently as you progress.
That is a lot to remember, isn’t it? But, there are exercises to help make piano hand position as natural as eating or sleeping. Let’s see what they are in the next section.
Some Basic Exercises to Improve Your Piano Hand Placement
All pianists practice their scales, chords, and arpeggios. Is there anything else you can do, though, to improve your hand positioning?
It turns out there are some standard exercises to help with curving your fingers. They are suitable for musicians of all levels and have the added benefit of being fun.
Play longer keys with your shorter fingers. If you look at the keyboard, you’ll see longer white keys and shorter black keys. Your shortest fingers are your thumb and your pinky(little finger), and typically they will only play white keys and if you’re playing music with sharps or flats, you’ll need to play the shorter black keys with your long fingers.
In this first exercise, you’re going to use a ball to practice curving your fingers properly. It’s important, though, to use a ball that fits your hand. Either a golf ball or a tennis ball will work, depending on your hand size.
If you have a friend available, have them throw the ball to you. Otherwise, you can throw it up against a wall yourself.
As you catch the ball, curve your fingers only against the top part. Take note of their correct position. That’s how they should curve over the piano keys.
Shake Someone’s Hand Today
It’s possible to do this exercise alone, but it’s better with a partner. What you’re going to do is shake their hand (or, if you’re alone, pretend to shake their hand).
After a bit, let go of your partner’s hand, making sure you keep your hand in the same position. Then, turn your hand over so your palm faces down.
Take note, because this is the hand position you need to use for piano playing. All the basic elements are there:
- curved fingers
- firm knuckles (you don’t want them collapsing!), and
- a C-shape between the thumb and index finger position
After a while, these elements will become second-nature, and you won’t have to go around shaking everyone’s hand any longer.
Have a Drink
This exercise is similar to the preceding one, only you don’t need a partner.
Take a glass, and hold it in one hand. Again, the glass needs to be the right size for your hand. Otherwise, the exercise won’t work. If you need to, experiment with glasses of different sizes until you find one that feels comfortable.
Notice how your fingers curve around the glass. Then, put the glass down, but, again, keep your hand in the same position.
Flip your hand over so your palm faces down, and place it over the piano keys. The result should be a position of your hands that’s pretty close to the one you’d normally use for piano lessons.
Make sure your fingers are curved and take note of the distance between your thumb and index finger.
Conclusion: Piano Hand Placement
Give some of these fun exercises a try. They might be just what you need to improve your piano hand placement. And, you never know, maybe someday you’ll be performing a difficult work like Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Why not?
In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about the piano, check out our blog! It’s filled with articles that are sure to help beginning and experienced pianists alike.