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I'm not sure if this is normal or not, but I wouldn't know how to practice differently in order to not put any strain on my wrists. Whenever practicing 4 octave scales or arpeggios (especially arpeggios because of the wider hand motions) I get a lot of strain put on my wrists. Specifically strain on my left wrist when I'm all the way to the right, but also a little strain on my right wrist at the start, all the way to the left.

This is because my wrist is at a very uncomfortable angle. When I'm all the way to the right, my left arm needs to stretch pretty far and it will be at an angle of about 30 degrees compared to the piano. This causes a tight angle in my wrist.

I move my body slightly from left to right so the angle becomes not as bad, but it's still an issue. I sometimes even mispress a key with my left hand because it's not in a comfortable position.

Are there any things I'm missing in my form that could release some tension in my wrists?

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Without seeing a video of you playing, we are guessing to some extent.

But this sounds like you have the wrong basic idea about what "passing the thumb under" means. It doesn't mean that you have to keep your hand perfectly level, then stretch your thumb as far as it can go and bend your wrist sideways in an effort to reach the right note.

One way to learn "the right way" is to practice a downwards arpeggio with your right hand (or upwards with your left hand). For C major, play the G E C with 3 2 1 and then stop, holding the C with your thumb.

Now, imagine there is a bug crawling over the G below the C, and you want to squish it with your 3rd finger. "Flick" your hand to the left as fast as you can, whack the G as hard as you can with 3, and immediately release the G. Don't bother about what happens to your thumb. It will release the C without you having to think about it. You won't have any time to strain your wrist by twisting it sideways, either.

After you get the "feel" of that, don't hit the G so hard, and hold it down. Then play the E and C with 2 and 1, and repeat.

To play an upward arpeggio you basically do the same thing in reverse, but that is a bit harder to learn. Holding down the G with 3, you need to "flick" your whole hand and arm to the right, to let your thumb have a good "whack" at the C above the G.

Start very slow, and try to "feel" exactly what you are doing when you "whack" the note. As your muscle memory learns that movement, you can even up the dynamics, play the notes at a steady tempo, and gradually speed up the complete arpeggio.

The same basic idea works for playing scales, but it is best to start with arpeggios because the movements are bigger and there is less chance that you "tense up" and learn the wrong movement.

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  • Thanks, I will have to try this later today. However, the middle octaves don't put any strain on my wrist and I'm already trying to focus on having my arm make the crossover movement, rather than trying to tuck my thumb super far under. It feels relatively smooth and there's no strain. There's only strain when I reach the end of the 4th octave with my left hand, because then the angle in my wrist is a lot tighter. And it's not only at the point of crossover. You're right, I should see if I can add a video. – Tipsi Jan 18 '20 at 11:17

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