Is it a usual practice from piano concertists to remove the specific hand far from the keyboard when this hand does not currently play for a certain duration, instead of keeping the hand just "above" the keyboard ?

Is is a recommendation from their teachers and/or schools ? Is it for artistic reasons or for "making some buzz" ? What is the goal ?

See this example :

until 00:25, Valentina very oftens removes completely the left hand from the keyboard when the left hand does not play, while she could also have kept it "above" the keyboard, at the position of either the last key or the next key.

  • 1
    A valid question. I tend to move my hands off, possibly as an artifact of my brain wanting to keep focus on only the hand that is playing via some notion of decluttering. More recently, I'm starting to optimize some of that away. I think it's a personal thing. Also, some pieces won't give you a chance to take any such breaks. Nov 30 '20 at 4:39
  • 1
    She could keep her hand above, but found it more comfy the other way. With such long pauses, having your hands far off the keyboard is not a handicap at all. Nov 30 '20 at 13:44
  • I do it to rest my arm, but I'm an out of shape amateur. Nov 30 '20 at 15:25

There cannot be a definitive answer for this!

Some do, some don't.

Some do in certain pieces, some don't.

The music itself may impel a player to, or not as the case may be.

'In the moment' is when that decision is often made - dependent on where in the piece, how the player feels, how the audience is reacting, how it's going. And, no doubt, several other factors too.

The 'rule' says 'do what you want, when you want'...

To be honest, if that's all a performer is thinking about in the middle of a piece - what??


One of my teachers cultivated this habit in me. She said that if you hold your hand/arm up to the keyboard in a static load position it creates tension. Raising your arm back up initiates the gravitational forces and aids in timing. So, unused hands go in my lap. I would never dangle my arm to the side because that creates a pull which might be opposite of the direction I am playing. The fingers, hand, arm, body, can only go in one direction at a time. Try to pull in two directions simultaneously and tension will ensue.

This is an excellent video. Witness her pronator and supinator muscles rotating the whole arm. Don't watch her hands, watch her elbow. That is where technique comes from, not the fingers. Her pronator teres is so defined that it makes a dent in her arm.

Great, now I have to go practice. Curses.


There's no standard practice for what you do with the hand that's not playing. Some players leave the hand hovering over the keys, some rest it on their lap, some wave the hand theatrically in the air. Do whatever feels right.

  • 3
    She's playing Liszt; some theatricality is indeed likely appropriate in this composer/arranger's case.
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 29 '20 at 15:52
  • 1
    @Dekkadeci I agree, but it's entirely the player's decision whether they want to express that only musically or put on a show.
    – PiedPiper
    Nov 29 '20 at 15:55
  • Thanks but what is the best. Do that or not do that ? Nov 29 '20 at 16:50
  • 1
    @MathieuKrisztian The best is whatever expresses your interpretation.
    – PiedPiper
    Nov 29 '20 at 17:29
  • thanks. I tried (on a different piece), but it looks a bit "theater" to do this for me, as if the one that does it wants to "impress" the people that he "masters" the piano. Nov 29 '20 at 17:40

What she's doing is perfectly normal and acceptable, but not required.

  • Do most piano concertists do that or not ? Nov 29 '20 at 16:51
  • 1
    Lord knows! Enjoy yourself by trawling YouTube and take a poll! Here's some. Bet you forget to look at their hands though! youtu.be/j-Wgb7sJEls Nov 30 '20 at 14:21

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