I'm self-taught unfortunately, although I do have access to my child's piano teacher and have taken a few lessons. Have been practicing for about one and a half years. When playing "Allegro in F Major" (Haydn), I have difficulty playing notes for F4-A4-F5 without also playing E5... screenshots below for illustration allegro1

My R5 finger extends down to reach F5, but I haven't managed to arch the palm of my right hand enough to also avoid touching (and playing) the E5 key. allegro2

Any tips on how to improve my hand position to only play the three intended notes would be much appreciated... Do I just need to continue practicing finger stretches?


Curve your fingers more ('hold an orange' while playing). That will bring the fingers forward, it shouldn't be necessary to play beteween the black keys for this chord. Lift the fingers that aren't playing. Lifting 4 is hard, but not impossible! Try the exercise where you press C,D,E,F,G down silently with 1,2,3,4,5 then play a series of repeated notes with each finger seperately. C,C,C,C,C then D,D,D,D,D etc. Keep the other fingers down, keep relaxed, just lift and play with that one finger. 4 won't lift as much as the others, but it WILL lift sufficiently. Get the teacher to show you this, and to FORCE you to relax (if you see what I mean :-)


a tip would be to get your fingers to play octaves (finger stretching).

Also, your hand doesn't need to be that far up; i.e. you can have your fingers further away vertically from the black notes as you can accidentally nick the black notes especially when playing faster pieces.

The main challenge in this particular chord in my opinion is the octave. To help get your fingers used to octaves, try playing slowly a scale in octaves. Progressively get faster and experiment with other things such as arpeggios. Soon you'll find that you won't have as much struggle with that chord.

Hope this helps!


For the octave, reach around the keys, instead of over them. I found a thread on another forum here where someone with small hands demonstrates. In particular, notice the first picture:

Reaching around the keys

Your hands aren't this small, but because of the A, your index finger will get pulled over and you'll have the same kind of issue. I can reach a tenth, but here's what happens when I play this chord:


  • 1
    That looks like a last-resort solution for someone with very small hands. Not recommended – Laurence Payne Sep 15 '17 at 18:13
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    @LaurencePayne this is absolutely standard technique. – MattPutnam Sep 15 '17 at 18:20
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    that's how I do large spreads; I have quite short fingers and for me this is much 'safer' to do than trying to arch the hands more since it creates less tension in the muscles. – Thomas Sep 15 '17 at 19:05
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    +1, my first thought on seeing the OP's photo was that the hand's so far up on the keys that (A) the hand is bent to accomodate the other keys being in the way and (B) the line between thumb and pinky is not parallel to the keyboard, so it is a longer distance than required. This answer solves both, shortening the distance and relaxing the hand. – Darren Ringer Sep 15 '17 at 19:32
  • @MattPutnam Just because a lot of people do it, doesn't make it good technique. The only good excuse for using it is because your hand is too small to do anything else (which normally only applies to children) - in which case, don't play music that requires octaves until you have grown bigger! – user19146 Sep 16 '17 at 2:46

Your fingers are too far up the keys. Keep your thumb and pinky finger on top of the keys, not hanging off the end as in Matt Puttnam's horrible picture, but near the key ends so your second finger is not "trapped" in between the black keys when playing the A.

You should only be playing with the 2 3 4 fingers in between the black keys when there is no alternative - for example, when your thumb or pinky has to be on a black key.

  • Please actually try the chord in question yourself before you declare my solution "horrible". You're flatly wrong. – MattPutnam Sep 16 '17 at 15:44

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