When looking at the reflection of the fallboard, I've noticed my fingers do not hit the keys straight from above. Instead, my hands are not fully pronated and fingers hit the keys at an angle of up to 45 degrees outwards.

Is this considered bad technique? Pronating my arms so that fingers play straight is possible, though it causes my elbows to go out to the side, which feels unnatural.

  • Have a good look at quite a few who play the piano really well. In different styles. You'll become aware that although purists will say there's a proper way to play, a lot of players do anything but, and still manage to do amazing things. There's an awful lot more than mere hand positioning. And, bear in mind we're all of different proportions so there isn't one perfect way to suit all.
    – Tim
    Oct 31 '17 at 15:12
  • I'm not sure you're using pronated and supinated correctly here, in terms of hands. Oct 31 '17 at 16:54
  • @Todd Wilcox You are right. I've replaced "supinated" with "not fully pronated". Just to be clear ; with pronation I mean rotating the right forearm anti clockwise. Oct 31 '17 at 17:07
  • That's how I was interpreting it also. Your hands should be more or less prone in a relaxed position. The knuckles for your index and middle fingers should be the highest point on the top of your hands. If you rest your hand on a flat surface, all of your fingers and the side of your thumb should be touching at about the same time. You should be able to achieve that with relaxed elbows. You might have to raise your seat until just before your knees hit the underside of the piano. Oct 31 '17 at 17:24
  • When you say "up to 45 degrees outwards", does that mean that when you play the highest note on the keyboard, your 3rd (middle) finger is at an angle of 45 degrees with respect to the keys? If so, that seems fine for single notes, but for chords I'd recommend leaning your body to the side to limit your angle away from the key orientation to about 20 degrees for the outer hand and maybe slightly more for the inner hand. (By "inner" here, I mean the one on the opposite side of the side you're leaning toward, so the left hand for high notes and the right hand for low notes.) Oct 31 '17 at 19:52

Your fingers shouldn't "hit" the keys, nor should they be little straight sticks.

Here are some bullet points to get you on track:

  • Back should be straight and tall with relaxed shoulders.

  • Distance from fallboard should have arms very nearly straight (not hyper-extended) when touching with closed fist. (When playing the keyboard, elbows should approximate a comfortable 90-degree angle.

  • Wrists should be level with ceiling.

  • Fingers should be gently curved (think capital "C" shape) and hand relaxed.

  • Keys pressed with pad of fingertip using firm fingers (i.e. not letting the first joint on your fingers pivot).

Hope that helps.

  • No, my fingers are certainly curved. I'm talking about the lateral angle here. So imagine the right hand playing a C chord, but the forearm is rotated to the right. Oct 31 '17 at 14:24
  • 2
    @StefanBroeder With relaxed shoulders, your elbows should fall more or less straight down. That means you may have to angle your lower arm outwards or inwards to reach the keys you want to play. As you go farther left or right, you may have to spread your elbows out, and even lean to one side or the other. You might watch some great pianists on YouTube to see how they do it, but take it with a grain of salt as many have unusual techniques that work for them but won't necessarily work for you. Oct 31 '17 at 16:54
  • Capital C sounds like way too much curvature. Oct 31 '17 at 20:06

One of my early teachers would place a pencil on the back of the hands, and then ask for a scale. If you can do that you are probably OK.

What is perhaps more important from the stand point of avoiding Repetitive Stress Injury (Carpal Tunnel, etc. ) is the angle of the wrist - which should be fairly flat. The more bend in the wrist, up or down, the more chance of nerve damage and also the slower the fingers will move.

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