Piano hand positions: a comfortable positioning of fingers

This short lesson will be useful not only at who has recently approached at the instrument or are gonna planing to do it, but also at who plays the piano for a long time.

The right position of finger, hand, wrist, arm and body are essential for achieving agility, relaxity and they give to you the capacity of playing continuously, even for a long time.

On the contrary, a bad position could cause aches, shoulder pain, back pain and severe tendinitis! So, you need to take some simple steps to prevent these painful situations.

Let’s start from our position on the stool:

Let’s take place on the stool but don’t sit down completely: just only in the first half of the seat. Put your fingers on the keys and keep a distance of about 30 centimeters (the distance from the keyboard at your pelvis).

Your back should stay upright, as straight as possible; you should always check that shoulders and neck are really relaxed.

Wrist and forearm should be aligned. The wrist should be stay to the same height (no more down, or higher) of the forearm.

The height of the stool should be adjusted so that the arm and forearm can make an 90 degrees angle.

The “Beyer”, preparatory school for the study of piano op.101, states, in this regard, that “the stool mustn’t be too high but, neither, too low: the right height drift by the elbow position that should be just under the keyboard. Please don’t use round and movable stools, because they don’t offer a sufficient stability for the body, but you need to relax without bend on yourself. If the student couldn’t even touch the floor with the feet, you can use a stool of the right height, so his legs can’t swinging.”


  1. An erect and relaxed back
  2. A relaxed neck
  3. Sit down just a bit forward of the center of the stool
  4. Elbow aligned with the keyboard
  5. Arm, forearm, wrist and hand must be on the same axle of the keyboard
  6. Don’t use movable seats
  7. Feet should touch the floor

After you found the right position with your stool, we can go ahead right to the arms setting :

“they should stay relaxed, never stiff, closet o the body like you are normally sit down or you’re walking (attention, shoulder shouldn’t never be arched). Elbows should be slightly close to the body”.

Looking at the hands , they should be just a bit tilted towards your thumbs, making sure that your wrists are always lower than knuckles. I recommend don’t keep the wrist too high or arched but neither too low, (remembering you the aligment arm-forearm).

Fingers, according to Beyer, should stay gently arched, with the tip directed to the key; lift they vertically taking care at the moviments of ascent and descent: they mustn’t give shock at the hand.

Chopin did lay the student’s hand on the notes E – F# – G# – A# – C. The hand assumes, in this particular position, a natural posture. In this way, in particolar during the scales execution, the passing of the thumb should be done without coercion and with a simple movement.

Antonella Barletta on JazzItalia‘s website, proposes a very useful exercise to get a strong and definite sound, keeping, in the meantime, a relaxed body:

M eanwhile we’re playing, the first part of our body that is gonna stiff is, surely, the forearm, so when we should start, we need to begin with some simple relaxing exercises. Let’s put the hands on the keyboard and, using the index of both the hands, let’s start to playing just one note in this way: raise one hand at the distance of 20 centimeters and let’s drop it, so the index must hit one determinate note (example. C for the right hand and G for the left).

Now we can execute the exercise with one hand at time or with both of they simultaneosly.

The finger should hit the note with the fingertip, and should take the note for almost ten seconds. In the meantime, our forearm should be totally relaxed. When we’ve reached a sufficient relax, we can repeat this exercise a couple of times.

This same exercise should be done with all the fingers of the hand. The important thing is maintain the arm relaxed and maintain a correct position of the hand on the keyboard.

The exercise should be done every day.

A lot of musicians debited on the position that we described above, saying that don’t exist an absolute position , or raither “one position most correct”, but that some non-conventional positions of the hands could give magnificiant results. I’m referring at Horowitz, a super pianist that could find, in a particolar and personal posture, a necessary balance to work all the shoulder-arm-forearm-hand-finger apparate and, when was necessary, all the body.

So, the real secret may be find a personal balance, so all the elements can correctly work and they may do this with the little effort possible.

However, in this moment let’s stick the informations that i gave to you.

Here it is a very useful video in english. For any questions, please leave a comment in this article and i’ll give you quickly an answer.

2 replies
  1. Lucas
    Lucas says:

    Muito bom! Aprendi certinho, estava precisando porque eu não estava achando que eu estava tocando na posição certa. Agora 13/11/11 a minha apresentação vai ser ótima! Vou tocar “Nocturne Op. 9 N. 1.

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