Play the Piano – Hand and Body Position

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 30,667
    Professional pianist Alex Wasserman discusses hand and body position on the piano.

    Alex Wasserman

    Alexander Wasserman is a professional pianist and pedagogue whose performances include Suburban Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland, “Pianofest” , Peabody Institute, Los Angeles. He is on the faculty at the International School of Music (ISM) in Bethesda, where he teaches piano to all ages, levels, and styles. With a distinguished faculty of 55 teachers, ISM provides students with a rich music education experience. The ISM faculty’s friendly personalities, insightful approaches, and individually tailored teaching methods have helped students become complete and versatile musicians. ISM provides an atmosphere that is warm and supportive so every student can achieve his/her best.

    Alexander Wasserman: My name is Alex Wasserman and we are talking about piano basics. Hand and body position. This is a very important part of playing the piano because it is how the entire body is setup in front of the piano. The back should be relatively straight, the shoulders should hang down naturally. There should never be any tension in the shoulders or actually, in any part of the arm when you play. The wrists by the same token, should be completely loose and flexible to move in any direction. Lastly, the hands have to be flexible as well. I like to give the example of a palm tree. A palm tree is able to withstand incredibly high winds because it isn't too rigid that it would snap in a wind and it is not too floppy that it would collapse in a wind. It has just the right amount of strength and flexibility that it can withstand very, very high pressure winds. The same is true with the hand when you play the piano. The hand should never be so stiff that there is tension all throughout the hand, the wrist and the rest of the arm. Conversely, it should never be so loose that the hand can bend in every possible direction. It has to have a certain shape and a certain strength to it without stiffness. A good way to find this shape of the hand is to simply let your hand relax like this. This is the natural position that the hand should be at when you play. Now without moving anything in the hand, just lower your arm on to the keyboard and that will give you the perfect hand position to play the piano. Same goes for the left hand. Now I am ready to play.