A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing

Posted by: Piano World

A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 05/16/12 02:17 PM

One of our new videos, created for us by pianist Robert Estrin.

This one talks about proper hand position for effortless piano playing.



See our new Videos Page


Posted by: HeirborneGroupie

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/16/12 02:40 PM

Great video. Thanks. I can't wait for the next one.

I do have a question about my hand position. I mentioned this in another thread and received helpful answers but varied. My problem is this...when I play, my 5th finger sticks straight up. Actually, it's not only when I play. It seems to be a habit I formed while doing any number of things like typing, drinking out of a cup (not kidding grin), and more. It happens on both hands and I don't feel any tension although it's probably there. Some responses I've received have said not to worry about it and others say I should try to fix it. Are there exercises I can do to correct this? Everything I've tried so far has failed.

I hope I posted this in the correct place. Thanks for your time.
Posted by: music32

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/16/12 02:51 PM

I love the drop of the natural position of the hand.. exactly what I have discovered and work with all the time. Thank you for this priceless wisdom.
Posted by: ZoeCalgary

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/16/12 03:31 PM

That was excellent! Thanks!
Posted by: fingerspitzngefuhl

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/16/12 07:26 PM

Although I'm not real crazy about the *smallness* of my hands (can reach an octave) I'm actually glad I don't have long "spider fingers" because I think it's *so* easy for those who have them to fall into the habit of having straight/bent backward fingers.

Thanks for the video!
Posted by: jotur

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/16/12 07:37 PM

Thanks, Frank! What a great idea these videos are! Some nice perspective there -

Cathy
Posted by: Jean-Luc

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/17/12 05:08 AM

Thank you very much for this very interesting video, very much appreciated smile
Posted by: Artur Gajewski

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/17/12 06:31 AM

Wow, I learned more from this video than by reading any piano related books smile Can't wait for more...
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/18/12 06:50 AM

What a wonderful presenter! He has a very natural enthusiasm. I look forward to more of these.
Posted by: Artur Gajewski

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/18/12 06:53 AM

I would love to hear what topics other videos will be of. Thank you Robert!
Posted by: keystring

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 05/18/12 11:19 AM

I like the idea of an effort-free way of getting a basic hand shape, and the idea of efficiency and how he relates this to the keyboard. At the same time I have some questions and observations.

Some time back I learned a new instrument and after a year I learned things from the Internet. A lot of the advice was good, but I understood it too literally and didn't know that things vary according to other things going on. If the same thing is given by a teacher, then he'll observe and have you adjust things. Sometimes I understood but wasn't doing what was in the book or video, but didn't know it - and sometimes I only thought I understood. I got into some problems even when the stuff was good, AND I gained from it.

This leads to questions (clarification) for Mr. Estrin: I get what you are saying about this way of forming the hand bringing you into an efficient area of the keyboard, and why that is efficient. But I might also get the idea that we restrict ourselves to having the hands in that area when playing anything. I'm thinking that you intend this more like a home base and a general starting point - is this right?

At this moment I am learning to move in and out of the black key area according to the music I am playing, and have been encouraged to watch good pianists. So this idea of staying in one area really struck me. Then when I watched you play, Mr. Estrin, I saw that this region of the keyboard looked like your home base, but that you moved freely in and out (I watched the left hand, and other videos). So this made me think that you are giving a first home base which is a good place to be generally, and some first good principals. But NOT to stay only in that area no matter what. Is that correct?
Posted by: CarlosCC

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 05/19/12 06:28 PM

Thanks for this new video page!
Posted by: bobestrin

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/19/12 07:55 PM

I really appreciate all the comments on the video. There will be more videos coming soon on a wide range of topics including memorization, sightreading and more. What I showed in this video is an approach to the keyboard that offers the most relaxed position requiring minimal effort to maintain. It also places the fingers where they can easily reach black and white keys with equal ease. However, this is an ideal to strive for. Watching some of the greatest pianos of all time, like Vladimir Horowitz, you will see interesting deviations on these ideals. If you don't sense tension as in the raised 5th finger, it may not be a problem. If you would like to try achieving a more perfect hand position, try slow practice. This gives you an opportunity to study your hands and work on being over the keys so your fingers have the minimal distance and effort in playing. You can work on hand position with your music as well as with scales and arpeggios.
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/19/12 10:21 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
This leads to questions (clarification) for Mr. Estrin: I get what you are saying about this way of forming the hand bringing you into an efficient area of the keyboard, and why that is efficient. But I might also get the idea that we restrict ourselves to having the hands in that area when playing anything. I'm thinking that you intend this more like a home base and a general starting point - is this right?

At this moment I am learning to move in and out of the black key area according to the music I am playing, and have been encouraged to watch good pianists. So this idea of staying in one area really struck me. Then when I watched you play, Mr. Estrin, I saw that this region of the keyboard looked like your home base, but that you moved freely in and out (I watched the left hand, and other videos). So this made me think that you are giving a first home base which is a good place to be generally, and some first good principals. But NOT to stay only in that area no matter what. Is that correct?


I'd say categorically - YES! Like many things this is something of an ideal which you strive to return to; but if you were to try to play everything like that you would fail.

My teacher keeps talking to me about the various touché (she's not French but uses that word) to use when playing different passages. Sometimes you will need more rounded fingers, sometimes flatter ones. As you note you'll need to adjust your handshape as you move into and out of the black keys. And, of course, stretches will cause adjustments too.

It does make me laugh a little bit when people talk about no longer playing as if there is a ball in your hand and similar things which must have gone out of style 30 years ago ... unless there are some really bad teachers out there!
Posted by: keystring

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/19/12 11:54 PM

I'm not sure my question was understood. I was not talking about the shape of the hand but the region of the keyboard. The video talks about not moving into the black key area but rather always staying in the white key area in front.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/20/12 09:01 AM

What the video talks about, keystring, is keeping the fingers at or near that part of the keyboard where the black and white keys meet as a default position. Bob did touch, very lightly, on it in his repsonse:

Originally Posted By: bobestrin
It also places the fingers where they can easily reach black and white keys with equal ease. However, this is an ideal to strive for.


This parallels the 'minimum movement principle' in guitar playing and keeping the index fingers on the embossed keys (F and J) when touch typing. From this position the fingers can readily be curled for a Bach type touch, lengthened for a Liszt type touch and reach black keys and white keys with equal facility. It also places the fingers in the best position for knowing where they are on the keyboard from touching the adjacent black keys and feeling the B/C and E/F gaps.
Posted by: keystring

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/20/12 11:54 AM

I think I finally got the video they way it was intended. I was thrown by "to keep the hand at the point...." as advice to keep the hands at that line in front of the black keys. But now I understand that Bob is saying that having this shape to the hand ALLOWS you to be in this area of the keyboard from where you can reach both white and black keys with ease. So if your hand is spread with flat fingers for those kinds of passages, then the fact that the pinky is short placing it near the edge, and the middle finger is long, would force you to move in and out excessively because you * could not * easily reach all keys with all fingers with those flat fingers. So it is not an instruction to have the hand there, but that for many passages, this shape of the hand makes it possible to have this home position.

As I wrote, when I started my first instrument I followed some on-line things and things in books which I understood wrongly and this created mischief. For that reason I'm very careful about how I understand things.

There is another interesting thing about this video. That is, when Bob demonstrates how to get this hand shape, the down motion is at the wrist which is what we want to feel at the piano. Not so long ago, having learned self-taught as a child, I didn't have that. I only got that recently. Two weeks ago, if I had tried to do what the video says, I would have either braced my fingers insanely making them stiff, of I would have collapsed at the knuckles as I would try to pull the hand down - because I didn't have that feeling in the wrist. I would have thought I was doing what the video says. When I first tried what the demo shows, I was doing both of those things because they're my old habit. It felt "bad" because now I know what "good" feels like. Shirley had mentioned the wrist, so I noticed the wrist - and then I got something that looked good and also felt good. At that point it actually became something to help me get that new thing in the wrist.

I think Bob addresses something very important because people are caught between the old "as if holding a ball" which is "out" because it often leads to stiff rigidity, and a "like your hand hangs at your side" which is sort of nowhere. So this gives us the shape but with a good feel to it (if we can reach it the right way) and also a *reason". Now I feel that I have actually understood that video.

Oh - and thank you, Bob Estrin.
Posted by: KeysAngler

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/20/12 09:42 PM

Fantastic work !!!

Thank you very much.
Posted by: John_In_Montreal

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/10/12 05:26 PM

Hi Frank, and Everyone,

What a strange coincidence... I was browsing the web this week and happened to come upon this website . Now I bump into this thread today and who do I see? the same person / teacher smile.

Very good videos on Robert's website by the way - scroll down to near bottom of page, right-hand pane: "Piano playing technique" and "Practicing the piano".

John
Posted by: Piano World

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/10/12 06:05 PM

Hi John,

Yes, Robert is making a series of videos for us.
I agree, he does a nice job.
Posted by: John_In_Montreal

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/11/12 06:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Piano World
Hi John,

Yes, Robert is making a series of videos for us.
I agree, he does a nice job.



That is mighty nice of him smile Thank You, Robert, for taking the time to share your knowledge and humour with us! Looking forward to more of your videos.

John
Posted by: Stephen Hazel

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/12/12 05:49 PM

Me too! Those videos are GREAT !!!!!

Lookin forward to MORE !!
Posted by: Jean-Luc

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/13/12 06:56 AM

I just watched the two new videos, very interesting and pleasantly presented, thank you very much smile
Posted by: griffin2417

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/13/12 07:37 AM


The videos are great Frank! Good information. Thanks!
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 06/19/12 05:33 AM

He's a passionate and fun to watch teacher (doubly so when he plays my favorite Schubert impromptu). I enjoy his youtube series
Posted by: chordelia

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 07/02/12 03:39 PM

Wow Thank you! That is great information and makes such good sense.

Wonderful-look forward to more too.
Posted by: thetandyman

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 07/02/12 07:00 PM

I love to soak up every video Robert Estrin posts, from moving, brand comparison, and the hand position film. He's a treasure for pianists
Posted by: EdwardianPiano

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 08/20/12 09:48 PM

LOVED the video! I am so grateful for this- really really needed to know all that- been having the wrong hand position for ages!
I find Robert very engaging and interesting to learn from- many many thanks to him! I look forward to more.
Posted by: Stephen300o

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 08/23/12 09:54 AM

My inspiration to take up the piano is Tom Waits, but he doesn't exactly have textbook technique..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LySDkDuqLCE
Posted by: lrao

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 08/26/12 10:39 AM

Hi, Robert. Thank you for the informative video. If you are thinking of other videos to produce, I would like to make a recommendation - could you explain the circle of 5ths to adults possibly who are learning theory? I know this is a far cry from hand position but theory questions are more difficult for me to grasp as an adult than when I was a kid.

Thanks again.
Posted by: Olly Wedgwood

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 09/26/12 04:27 PM

Excellent video! I've been playing for over 20 years and nobody really explained this to me... Thanks so much for sharing!
Olly
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 10/01/12 10:42 PM

So far I have watched every video Robert Estrin has done this past year or two and I love them. I just wish there were more and perhaps a well-illustrated book for sale because I am self-taught and can use a lot of help.
Posted by: aTallGuyNH

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 11/11/12 09:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Stephen300o
My inspiration to take up the piano is Tom Waits, but he doesn't exactly have textbook technique..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LySDkDuqLCE


Woooooooooooooowwww!!!!!

So many things to say...

Do you think they brought out the tuner/tech between numbers?

Wouldn't you love to tag along with Tom for piano shopping?

Hopefully you don't emulate on your own piano!?!

Ever wonder what feedback you'd get if you posted this to the Tuner/Tech Forum?
Posted by: Daniel Johnson III

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 01/14/13 08:40 PM

http://www.DansPianoTutorials.com
Posted by: Bruce Siegel

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 01/18/13 04:31 PM

Hi everyone,

I agree that Robert's video is excellent. I particularly like that he stresses the importance of getting maximum results with minimum effort.

And there's another aspect to this: using the weight of your arm to produce tone. When you stop pushing downwards on the key, and instead, let gravity do the work, you stay relaxed, and you also gain greater control over dynamics.

Here's a video I created that demonstrates this approach. I hope some of you find it helpful!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4_LdrP0c1A

By the way, someone here talks about a problem with their pinky sticking straight up. Using arm weight may help to overcome this problem. And that's because when you play by releasing weight (rather than pushing), you're constantly sending the message to your body: Release. Let go. Relax.

And that includes even your pinky. :o)

So relaxation gets "built into" your technique in the most fundamental way possible, and that can only be a good thing!

--Bruce
Posted by: Mark Green

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 03/19/13 01:26 PM

This is quality.thanks guys smile
Posted by: ElleC

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 03/31/13 11:41 PM

wonderful video! especially helpful for adult beginners like myself. thank you!!
Posted by: Daniel Corban

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/25/13 07:31 AM

I also have the problem of the "teacup pinkie" on my right hand only. I'm wondering if it will cause trouble down the road. I am not currently noticing any problems.
Posted by: Marco M

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/25/13 09:42 AM

My teacher told me about the "pinkie", that it would the result of a too tense hand. I think that it could disappear by having much more routine in piano playing, and thus approaching it much more relaxed. My teacher advised me to routinely do some excercises (scales and arpegios) in which I fully concentrate on posture (full body to finger tip), and within this of course concentrating also on hand and finger posture. I get corrected on this each lesson again. Corrections became by time so subtle, that I sometimes wonder what it would be what is still not good, but my teacher really insists on it to maximum detail. It´s hard for me to say WHAT I changed over time, but yes, the pinkie is disappearing. I now only suffer it on new pieces and hard passages, which supports my teacher´s view that it is all about playing relaxed.
Posted by: Clayman

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 05/26/13 04:11 AM

I enjoy these videos very much. Robert Estrin is a really cool guy that knows how to make learning fun. I hope you keep these vids coming. smile
Posted by: music producer

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 06/12/13 01:54 PM

During my years taking piano lessons, I had some good teachers, and one great teacher. His name was Alexander Mlynarski; the piano teacher lineage went back through Paderewski, and on back many generations to Beethoven, according to my teacher (whom I have no reason to doubt).

He taught that my hand should be shaped as though I were holding a large orange. Wrist low, knuckles high, elbows out slightly, hand always relaxed when possible between playing and sustaining chords.
Posted by: Palmpirate

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 07/01/13 01:12 AM

Thanks robert . Video lessons on these aspects of piano really help. I recently came back to piano playing and my new teacher as an adult taught me about playing with 'calm hands' I was quick to get his meaning since I've done a lot of yoga and body training. I know what releasing tension feels like but never thought about it in my piano playing before. It is true you really can play for hours without getting fatigued. Now I am no longer with that teacher your videos help re-inforce the great lessons I have learned lately. I will look forwar to more of your tips and tricks!
Posted by: Steve Armstrong

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 07/27/13 10:40 PM

I know this is very late but I think you will find helpful...

I say fix. For your finger to stick up, it must be tense, tension = bad tone and damage to muscles. It is also inefficient. You just need to strengthen it with isolation exercises, which, of course will take more than a couple of weeks before you have some marked improvement.

e.g. 1. play a triad and while holding the bottom two keys down, play your fifth several times, slowly, but firmly. Then once comfortable, double-tap your fifth with dotted rhythms i.e. dotted-quaver and semiquaver and then reverse. (double-dotted is even better). You MUST lift your fifth straight up and curved, DO NOT flap it out in an arch. Pull it straight up.

The fifth finger itself, however, is not the only problem. The 3rd and 4th fingers are very lazy and very clumsy.

E.g. 2. Download Delioux op. 86 from imslp.org and flick through that. Part I Series I is very good. (Pick out exercises for 3,4, and 5 individually and also combined).

If your 5th finger lifts to help your 4th lift and then relaxes as your 4th finger strikes then that's ok: holding it up and straight is not ok. If it helps your 4th then it must play exactly with your 4th as though strapped to it.

I hope that helps smile
Posted by: Philm35

Re: A New PW Video on Proper Hand Position for Piano Playing - 08/25/13 04:03 PM

Thanks, Robert, for this enormously helpful video. I look forward to seeing more!

Cheers,

--Phil
Posted by: Ahmediy

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 08/26/13 08:09 PM

These videos are wonderful.
Robert is a very good player and teacher.
Thanks!
Posted by: howtotuneaguitar

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 09/03/13 09:51 PM

Online learning provides many advantages to everybody. First of all there are numerous software packages to choose from, which provide the required help in playing the piano. Online piano lessons will work out to be cost effective and provide an effective way in mastering techniques which relate to this musical instrument.

Another major advantage of an online piano lesson is that you can do it from any part of the world. You also do not require superior hardware configurations to download the software packages for online piano learning. What is even better is that you can access the various piano lesson packages from the online “shops” any time of the day or night.
Posted by: Doritos Flavoured

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 09/16/13 08:07 AM

Originally Posted By: Andy Platt

It does make me laugh a little bit when people talk about no longer playing as if there is a ball in your hand and similar things which must have gone out of style 30 years ago ... unless there are some really bad teachers out there!


it's specially laughable when we know that Byrd and his contemporaries used flat fingers to play the keyboard

fads...
Posted by: Barry1963

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 09/20/13 10:33 AM

appreciate the video !!
Posted by: Steve Warner

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 09/21/13 11:13 AM

Excellent video!
Posted by: Berb

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 11/09/13 01:54 AM

Hi, thanks for the video sharing, Seems like finally i've found the right
info. Kindly share more info soon
Posted by: Carlinton

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 11/09/13 02:44 PM

I love this video! I enjoy every minute of it! laugh
My students would benefit greatly from this video. So the question is --> Can I share it on my website?

Thank you!
All the best!

Carlinton
http://www.choose-piano-lessons.com/piano-exercises.html
Posted by: careezma

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 11/13/13 05:32 PM

“The Easiest and Most Effective way to Learn Piano & Keyboard Online” http://pianoforallbuy.blogspot.com/
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 01/13/14 12:36 PM

At the beginning of the video Estrin mentions Horowitz's flat fingered playing but then Estrin seems to recommend a more curved fingers approach. Does this mean he thinks Horowitz played incorrectly or was some kind of exception to the rule or was able to play the way he did despite some technical flaw or...? I think leaving an explanation of this out makes the video somewhat unclear.

There are also other pianists who use a more flat fingered approach although none as famous as Horowitz.
Posted by: Miguel Rey

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 01/14/14 01:03 PM

I think he fails to mention that both curved and flattened fingers can be used depending on what is being played. I've read books and have noticed some professionals using both.

The Melody Hand is weighty and 'dead,' so to speak. The touch is made with flat fingers; the ball of the finger comes in contact with the key, the whole arm, hand and fingers are relaxedas loose as possible. You caress the keys as though you loved them, as though they were a very part of you; you cling to them as to something soft, velvety or downywith pressure, pressure, pressure, always."

The technical hand employs finger touch and finger action; the hand is held up, in military position, so to speak; the finger movements are quick, alert and exact; the hand is alive, not dead and heavy, as is the melody hand. The two ways of playing are quite opposite in their fundamental character, but they can be modified and blended in endless ways."For the technical or coloratura touch, the hand is in arched position, the five fingers are well rounded and curved, their tips are on the keys, everything is rounded. When a finger is lifted, it naturally assumes a more rounded position until it descends to the same spot on the key from which it was lifted, as though there were five little imaginary black spots on the keys, showing exactly where the finger-tips should rest. The fingers are lifted cleanly and evenly and fall on the keysno hitting nor striking. I make a great distinction between the coloratura touch and the melody touch. The first is for rapid, brilliant passage work, sparkling, glittering, iridescent what you willbut cold. It is made, as I said, with arched hand and raised finger action. Melody touch expresses warmth and feeling; is from the heart. Then there are the down and up arm movements, for chords, and, of course, scale and arpeggio work, with coloratura touch

Thuel Burnham
Posted by: Dave B

Re: A New Short PW Video on Piano Playing Technique - 01/19/14 03:52 PM

Great video, thanks! "The magical line where the white keys meet the black keys." Amazing.