How To Position Hands On Piano


Five Piano Finger Exercises For Beginners

Basics of Playing the Piano: hand shape and hand position (2)

Piano fingering exercises are an incredible way to learn about how to use your fingers when playing the instrument. Many will start on middle C, some will focus on scalar passages or contrary motion , some will focus on chords just follow the general guidelines of which fingers to use. There are so many things to practice. Practicing finger exercises is one of the key building blocks for you as a beginner. Practice slowly, and focus on the change of hand position. Warm-up exercises for piano are very important to learning to play well, here are some great examples.

Find A Way To Keep Your Feet Flat

Adults usually are tall enough to place their feet flat on the floor when seated on a piano bench. However, smaller adults or children likely will need a foot rest to achieve a more comfortable position that keeps them the right distance away from the keyboard.

Avoiding dangling feet will make kids far more comfortable and secure while playing. It also helps to ensure better posture.

Correct Posture And Upper Body Position

It is true that only the fingertips make contact with the keys, but your fingers should never do all the work alone. Your entire body is involved in playing the piano. Concert pianists who seem to make elaborate motions are playing with utter control. They are simply transferring energy from their entire body into the keys, so here we guide you on how to do the same.

Sit upright, back straight. Imagine a line all the way along your spine from your seat to the top of your head. Sitting like this may be tiring at first, especially if you are used to sitting on chairs that support your back. Dont worry, your core will get stronger very quickly, and the position will soon feel natural.

Relax your shoulders. Fight the urge to hunch or curve your spine. Your head is heavy, so avoid craning to look down at the keys. This puts pressure on your back and shoulders. If you hold tension in your shoulders as most people do, roll them over and back a few times, then let your arms hang loose by your sides.

Once youre comfortable, lay your hands either side of the center of the keyboard. Your fingers should be parallel to the keys, hovering somewhere above the middle of the white keys, close to the where the black keys begin .

Your elbows should be at a comfortable distance from your body, bent outward.

Common mistake: stiff wrist and forearms

Common mistake: buckling your fingertips

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How To Position Hands On A Keyboard

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Have you ever wondered if you are placing your hands incorrectly on the keyboard? Well read this if you are curious about keyboards and how to use them!

Use Gravity With Piano Posture

Heidis Piano Studio: Proper Hand Position with Nile the Crocodile

Rather than relying only on finger strength to play a note on the piano, use the whole weight of your arm. To learn how to do this, try pushing the piano bench back a little ways from the piano. Practice holding your arm as if you had the keyboard in front of you, then letting your arm drop into your lap. Feel the natural weight of your arm as it falls limply into your lap. It may help to imagine you are a puppet with just a couple of strings holding your arm up. Someone cuts the strings, and the arm falls heavily and without resistance. After you have tried this with both arms, move the bench back up to the keyboard and, with fingers in curved position, feel your arm fall on each note. The weight of your arm will transfer through your fingers into each key.

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Physical Adjustment For Octave And Chord Playing

The most common struggle that small-handed pianists experience is playing octaves and big chords. Before you frantically practice them over and over, lets slow it down and check in with your body and what you are doing.

Finding a Correct Hand Position / Angle

Step 1: Put your hand to play any octave. Where are your fingertips?

The photo below shows the natural hand position. The arm is behind the middle finger and looks nice and straight. However, it doesnt work for octave playing because the pinky is positioned too much in the middle of the key. It will require more effort for the pinky in this hand position.

Step 2: Tilt your hand from the wrist as if you are waving at a friend. Tilt only slightly to the right until the fingertip of the thumb and pinky align at the same horizontal line.

Step 3: Pull your elbow towards you so that the fingertips rest at the edge of the keys.

Step 4: Now play the octave slowly, but play as close as possible to where the inner keys are.

Step 5: Squeeze the thumb and pinky inwards. Hooray! Look at the nice curved hand shape!

We have the hand bridge again, the solid support from the knuckle relaxes the finger, which allows them to move faster and easier! Be aware that you are more likely to use the side of the fingertips. It is necessary for us small-handed pianists to do so in order to avoid the unnecessary tension.

In the video below, I demonstrate how to use this technique to play octaves in succession at ease.

Voicing – Less Thumb!

Rule #: The Natural Hand Position

The first rule of piano fingering is that the shorter fingers play the longer keys, and the longer fingers play the shorter keys.

The shorter fingers are the thumb and pinky, fingers 1 and 5. The longer fingers are the index, middle and ring fingers, fingers 2, 3 and 4.

This piano fingering rule is exemplified by the natural hand position, in which fingers 2, 3 and 4 rest on F-sharp, G-sharp and A-sharp, while fingers 1 and 5 are on E and C.

Chopin always started his students with a slightly modified version of this hand position, using B in place of C. I prefer to use C for symmetry, though to small hands B might feel more natural.

This means that, in general, its most natural to use the middle fingers for the black keys. A corollary of this rule is that the thumb usually avoids playing the black keys.

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Find The Right Piano Finger Position & Shape

To find the right finger shape for playing the piano, try putting your relaxed hand on your thigh and sliding it forward over your knee. Notice how your fingers naturally curve around your knee cap. Keep your fingers in that position as you lift your hand, and set it on the keyboard to play. Another trick is to cup both hands together as if you were holding a small, delicate baby chick. Now, keeping that finger shape, rotate your hands so they are palm down, and youre ready to play the piano.

Exercise #: Work On Your Thumb Under

How To Position Your Hands For Piano

For this third exercise, we are going to focus on a technical notion that we briefly discussed in our section on scales as a method of improving piano fingering: the thumb under.

Thumb under is a technique that consists of putting your thumb under another finger in order to be able to press the note located higher on the piano keyboard. This technique is used to be able to play a succession of notes without sudden stops, silences or other inconveniences related to the movement of the hand.

If we take again the example of the C major scale, the thumb under must be done after playing the 3rd note of the scale with the middle finger. The thumb then goes under the middle finger to play the 4th note of the scale. This is followed by a hand replacement that allows you to continue the scale note by note to the little finger.

This technique is frequently used when you have to play songs where the notes follow each other quickly. This is why it is important to work on it in order to be able to play fast and more complex songs without rhythmic errors.

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How To Place Hands On Piano

  • Proudly written by pro-Pianist & Conductor,

So youre interested in learning the piano and wondering how to place hands on piano well wonder no longer! The hand position and having the proper piano technique is a vital skill to learn quickly, so the rest of your learning can proceed as planned.

The video below was filmed by Pianist & Conductor, Robert Emery, at Abbey Road Studios, and features a 9ft Steinway Concert Grand Piano. It will help improve your piano hand position, and get you playing the piano like a pro!

If you have bad habits, everything from your neck, wrist, arms, shoulders and even your thumbs can hurt! Your posture will suffer giving you a bad back. Youll get grumpy and eventually quit learning piano altogether.

So pay attention and learn the ideal hand positions for playing piano.

What Is The Proper Piano Hand Position

With all of the aforementioned benefits of using a proper piano hand positions, it would seem that the only thing left to do is to learn how to actually do it!

Thankfully, a good piano hand position is actually much easier to learn than many people think! Like any new skill, however, maintaining good piano hand placement requires on behalf of the student.

I will be using piano hand positions approaches that have worked for me, specifically that of my teacher Dr. Follingstad, as well as tips from renowned piano teachers like Leschetizky, Dohnanyi, and Alfred Cortot.

If youre more of a visual learner, check out this infographic depicting the proper piano hand positions below:

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Piano Finger Position C Major

The four fingering movement is used for fingering. Right thumb is on middle c, second finger on d, third finger on e, and one again on f, two on g, three on a, four on b, and one more on c.

On piano, learning the C major scale is almost always the first step. Because there are no sharps or flats in this scale, it is a fundamental and fundamental scale. It is critical to know your finger numbers before playing scales, and here is a quick visual of what fingering patterns you use for the C scale. The C major scale is played with two octaves, so you just keep progressing until you reach the final note in the direction you started . You will notice a slight difference in fingering. After youve played your first octave, instead of playing finger 5 to finish things off, you should cross your thumb under to begin your next octave.

The Importance Of Proper Piano Hand Position

Piano Chords Made Easy

Why does good piano hand position matter? So glad you asked! To answer this question, allow me to give you a small glimpse into my history as a pianist. When I first piano at college, I had a teacher who didnt teach me proper piano hand position.

For a while, this didnt matter, as I was able to get a satisfactory sounding tone, sense of phrasing, and musicality out of the instrument. As a college level pianist, however, I was required to practice many hours a day at one point, I was doing 5 hours a day.

Very quickly, my hands and arms would hurt to the point where picking anything up would be painful. At the time, I didnt know that this pain was caused by poor piano hand placement.

It wasnt until I came to San Diego State University to further my piano playing, when my Dr. Follingstad, immediately began to address and remedy the issues within my piano hand positions.

Good piano hand placement not only , but it also allows a pianist to get better tone quality. I remember when I was a beginner and thought that the tone of the piano was unchangeable. I didnt realize that the position of my hands could absolutely affect the sound coming out of the instrument.

In addition to the previously mentioned benefits, proper piano finger positions allows a pianist to play quicker, with more agility, and with greater accuracy.

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Additional Advice For Playing

The Patterns

Obviously, the fingers are extremely relevant for proper playing, because they will be the ones actually pressing the keys.

What you should do is learn the hand patterns.

Patterns exist to facilitate the moving around of fingers on the keyboard.

There are tons of tutorials on useful hand patterns, so make sure to learn as many of them as possible.

Start with simple ones and move your way up.

This way, you will loosen your fingers up and make them play the same note sequences over and over again.

Mind you, there are hand patters for both the left and right hand.

Be sure to practice both of them, as the left hand is in charge of accompaniment, which is extremely important for full playing.


After a solid practice period, or a couple of hours of playing the piano, its important to take a rest.


Because its the same as with the working out.

The growth and progress dont only happen during playing it also occurs during the resting period.

Our body needs time to adjust to the new surroundings, so give it enough time to do it.

After a while, youll notice how your hands immediately form the proper playing positions.

Therefore, value the resting time in between the two playing sessions its essential to your progress on the piano.

If youre just starting out, dont over-practice yourself.

The smartest way is to start small, and slowly increase your daily practice time.

Pay Attention To Wrist Action

Many piano students injure themselves by using poor wrist action. Keep the wrists supple and flexible as you play so that the body can more effectively transfer arm weight to the fingers.

Practice this by sitting at the piano with curved fingers in contact with the keys. Allow the wrists to drop just slightly as you play a key. As you release the key, release the wrist back to the starting position before letting it drop slightly for the next note.

Piano teachers sometimes tell students to think of their wrists as being like trampolines that must rebound after being pushed down.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is that the wrists need to be relaxed and comfortable at all times.

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How To Find The Best Typing Position For You

When youre used to using the same hand position for every task, you quickly find yourself in a typing rut. If you want to improve your typing speed, you should experiment with various hand positions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers place their hands on the steering wheel at 9 and 3 oclock in the morning. The keyboard is best controlled from this position, which is where the majority of keyboard typing occurs. If youre new to typing, try out different hand placements. In the 3 oclock position, place your finger on the keys and see how it feels. To do so, place your fingers on the keys in the 9 oclock position. Type in any number of ways. You should experiment with various positions until you find one that works best for you.

Sit And Lean For Better Piano Posture

Beginning Piano Hand Placement : Piano Lessons

Kids seem to love to slide around on the bench when they play, but this isnt really a good use of energy. It is better if they sit in one spot and lean if they need to. If an entire piece is played low on the piano, start out sitting to the left on the bench, or if the piece is high, start out on the right. If a piece goes low and high, sit in the middle and lean to reach all the keys. A foot rest can be a big help with this, providing balance and something to push off when leaning.

We hope this article on piano posture and hand position has been helpful!

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Exercise #: The Repetition Of Distant Notes

For this piano fingering exercise, the principle is more or less the same as the previous one: you have to play two notes one after the other in a loop with two fingers. The difference is mainly on the distance between these two notes.

In the previous exercise, the notes were located next to each other. In this exercise, the notes must have a larger gap and must be played by two fingers that are not next to each other.

Lets take as an example the C of an octave and the C of the higher octave . To play the two notes consecutively without moving your hand, you will have to play them with your thumb and little finger.

Playing these two notes consecutively with your thumb and little finger may cause your hand to hurt. To fluidify your movement and avoid being too tense on exercises or songs requiring large finger spreads, we advise you to make swinging movements with your wrist. Swing your wrist slightly to the right when you press C with your little finger, and to the left when you press with your thumb.

For this exercise, you can choose the distance you want between the two notes. But for it to be really effective, we advise you not to go below 4 notes between the two notes you play consecutively.

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