A lot of songs I play have ostinatos with riffs over large intervals and include a changing a middle note.

The treble clef in the image below is a good example.

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I have been trying to play this with my fingers 1 and 5 spanning the b octave, and just switching my index and middle finger notes.

When playing intervals like this (which, without a middle note would be close to the maximum interval I can easily reach), through a combination of finger movement and wrist rotation, sometimes my forearm gets tired (in a workout way, not in a painful way).

I am fine practicing these until my forearm is strong enough and my arm comfortable with the interval but I am curious, what is the ideal technique from a physical standpoint to play large repeating intervals? I think this is called "extended position".

Should I try to use fingers only? Should I try to use mostly my wrist with rotation, or something else?

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    Use arm weight as much as possible, I think. Don't attempt to do it just with your hands. Jul 29, 2022 at 22:20
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    I think your hands are smaller than mine, so how I play it is not likely to be the best way for you to play it. That suggests your best option for mastering wider intervals without injury is to hire a teacher who can help you address these intervals in a way catered to your hand size. Jul 30, 2022 at 9:11

2 Answers 2


It obviously will depend on your hand/finger physiology, but for me, I rest my hand on the 2 B notes, and see where the fingers fit with regard to the others. Just as you do, index on E, middle on F♯ seem to work best. But a consideration is where the rest of me and my arm are at the time. By sliding left/right, you'll give yourself some leeway, and one position will feel most comfortable. Also the height your hand is above the keys will have a slight influence on comfort. For fast, repetitive passages, wrist rotation isn't a good idea. Keep experimenting!


How fast are you wanting to play it? I tried it just now at 190 bpm, and could repeat the pattern comfortably for over 20 bars. Assuming the example you provided is Don't Stop Believing, Journey played it at about 117 bpm. At 117 bpm, I think the technique doesn't matter so much. It doesn't compare to the speed (and, therefore, technique) needed to play the Allegro of the Pathetique Sonata 1st movement, for example. Perhaps the only thing you need is to learn how to intentionally relax your hand and forearm when playing this kind of thing. If you play with anxiety and tension, it's like putting your arm in a blood pressure cuff, and your body has to struggle against the hindrance.

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