On the piano, a few pieces require me to play a gliss that can often run over a large range of notes, rather than a short range.

For example, I am currently learning the piece Maple Leaf Rag. There is a part when I am shifting my hands down an octave to repeat a section and during this shift, my left hand is supposed to drop down an extra octave-ish and gliss back up to the correct position.

However, when I do this, I often experience great pain during and after the gliss, and I might even experience numbness in the fingers for a few seconds.

In order combat this, I will often play a "lazy-gliss" and will end up just sliding my hand across the top of the keys.

What is a good technique for playing a gliss on the piano pain-free and still play all the notes clearly?


2 Answers 2


If you play a glissando remember to relax your hand. A glissando should not cause any great pain. Even if you were playing in a large concert hall, it should not be the case that you hold your fingers so stiff that you have to make the glissando so loud for the audience. Loosen up and practice a glissando with just one finger even by just using your index finger. Downward glissandos can be played with the thumb. Make sure your instrument also is not such that it has old worn ivory key tops or something. If so, then it is the instrument. Usually the keys have a softer finish that makes playing a glissando easier. Otherwise it is the fact that you are pressing too hard. This ornament takes practice. Practice so that you are not hurting your fingers when you play the glissando. With great control, you should in fact be able to play a single note glissando scale up and down that actually sounds like someone playing a C Major scale. But, again do not play hard if it actually hurts your hand to play the glissando. Play lightly there.

You can play a glissando up the piano with usually the index, middle, and ring finger positioned together. Try practicing slowly without even the piano, just in the air like you are shooing something away. Then, when you play on the piano, play the glissando lightly. The general rule is that if you play too loud it becomes more difficult to play fast. So, when you are at the pieces required tempo, try playing it softly. Hope this helps.


I’m a pretty new pianist, on grade 6. But I think for glissandos, use the nails of your finger.

R.h. Down: finger 1, thumb’s nail. Don’t clench your fist up.

L.h. Down: number 3’s nail, and prehaps number 4’s.

R.h. Up: same as l.h down. L.h. Up: same as r.h down

A piece I’m doing also has gliss in it, and I tend to use right hand thumb nail for the down.

It also seems like you are using your part is your finger where the fingerprint is (sorry I don’t know what that is called) and that can lead to injuries.


Here’s a website That I found useful, but it is not secure. It goes a little in depth.


This is a secure one, but it is a less in depth article and a much quicker read.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.