Swipe to the left

Pictures of Hands on the Keyboard

Print
By Eulsun Kim 2 years ago 3765 Views No comments

There are 18 hand position pictures. Each picture pinpoints in detail where you should relax when you are practicing the piano. I am the only one in the universe giving out this very specific and unique information. With this knowledge you will go in the right direction and there will be no more frustration or getting lost. After all, practicing and playing the piano is supposed to be joyful, happy, and satisfying.

Picture 1
The energy gathers in the heel of the hand


The energy comes from the back of the waist through the shoulders and arms into the heel of the hand. Think of three vertical lines: the back bone, the left upper arm, and the right upper arm. The arms move vertically (as when we are walking), not horizontally. When we are trying to move any heavy object, it is easier to push than to pull. When we are pushing most of the contact is with the heel of the hand.

So we are using our energy from the back of the waist, through the shoulder into the heel of the hand. The energy then goes from the heel of the hand through the palm and supporting knuckles into the fingertips. At this time it is important that the palm and the underside of the fingers are soft and relaxed.

Picture 2
Be sure the upper arm is relaxed. Think vertically.



In the front of the upper arm is the bicep, and in the back is the tricep. When we pick up our forearm when playing the piano, we are using the bicep to bend our elbow. When we deliver arm weight into the keys with a downward swinging motion we are using the tricep in the back of the upper arm. When playing the piano, both of these muscle masses need to be relaxed the same as when we are walking.

When we are walking and swinging our arms, the upper arm is swinging freely from the shoulder. At this time we do not put the elbow either in or out. It hangs vertically from the shoulder.
This is the way we should use our arms when playing the piano. Many people are taught to play the piano with their elbows out in order to relax and to express the music. They don't know how much tension this causes. When you are playing the piano the arms should hang vertically from the shoulders to the fingertips. I recommend that you practice one hand at a time. As seen in the picture, your other hand can feel the upper arm to see if the elbow is out and if any muscles are contracting.

Picture 3
Be sure the top of the forearm is relaxed

To play with speed it is most important to keep the forearm relaxed. In this picture the left hand is indicating where the muscles are that control the movement of the fingers. Releasing your fingers quickly will keep the top of the forearm relaxed.

So we need to train the forearm to develop a quick attack and release motion similar to what you would do when bouncing a ball. This motion means the forearm is completely going down as you let go of the ball and let the ball bounce back up by itself. This is the same idea that once you depress the key you should release your muscles in your arm so that the key comes back up by itself. The most common problem people make when playing the piano is, after depressing the key, it is held down tightly with finger tension so that the forearm is also tense and will be pushed up.


Picture 4
Be sure the underside of the forearm is relaxed

When you depress the key you should check with the other hand to see if the underside of the forearm is relaxed and feels light. The most comfortable position for the forearm is when you turn your palms up. This is because there are two bones in the forearm, one on the thumb side of the hand and one on the fifth finger side. When your palms are turned up these bones are parallel to each other. When your hand is in position to play the piano the bone on the thumb side crosses over the other one, causing a small amount of tension. Be sensitive to this and always keep the underside of the forearm relaxed.

Picture 5
Training the thumb is the most important part of playing the piano.

The thumb is the leader when we play scales and arpeggios. Wherever the thumb goes up and down the keyboard make a straight line from the end of the piano string through the thumb and elbow into the backbone . This is the most natural motion of the arm. The thumb and all the other fingers move together as one unit on the surface of the keyboard, the same as when we swing the arm when walking.

To train the thumb you can check with the other hand to be sure the inside of the thumb is relaxed. It should feel soft, not hard. If the inside of the thumb is tight, this will immediately cause tension in the wrist because the thumb muscle mass in the palm is directly connected to the wrist. So when the thumb has tension, this affects other fingers and forearm, elbow, upper arm, and shoulder--everywhere.

In our daily life we are mostly using a grabbing motion with the thumb and the other fingers which is the opposite way from when we are playing the piano. When we are playing we should make an open space between the fingers, especially the thumb and second finger. When you play the thumb be sure to depress the key vertically with the arm while keeping the wrist relaxed. Always keep the thumb on the surface of the keys. Never pick up the thumb by itself. Furthermore, think of the thumb as one unit from the wrist to the tip of the thumb. This means the thumb is hanging from the wrist and depresses the key with the forearm. The thumb muscles are connected to the other fingers in the palm of the hand. If the thumb has tension that affects all the other fingers, the wrist, and the whole arm.

Then how can you find out if the thumb has tension? Put your thumb on the surface of a key and depress the next key with the second finger. At that time put your left hand second finger on the right hand thumb as shown in the picture. If you feel the thumb pushing up or moving, that means it has tension. All of the fingers share one wrist. Because of this, if the thumb or any other finger has tension it will make it difficult for all of the fingers to move freely.
The question I get most often is if we should bend the first joint of the thumb. I answer "no." When you are walking what does the first joint of your thumb look like? This is how it should look and feel when you are playing the piano.

Picture 6
Feel the thumb as part of a vertical line into the keys

To train the thumb put your left-hand thumb on C and the right-hand thumb on E. Then play the thumb feeling a connection from the tip of the thumb to the elbow. To practice this, play a two-octave scale with only the thumb on the white keys in contrary motion. Keep the other fingers gently on the surface of the keys while not changing the position of the hand. Attack and release the notes with only a vertical motion. Do not push the elbow out by itself in the direction you are playing. Play the thumb with a free swinging arm motion from the shoulder. At that time be sure that your upper arms are relaxed and feel light.

Picture 7
The space between the thumb and the second finger must be kept open and relaxed
.



The thumb and the second finger are the most important fingers. The proper training of the thumb and second finger provides the basis for developing a brilliant technique. You will have a balanced hand position, finger independence, and be able to play fast passages easily. This is because the thumb is the leader, leading the hand up and down the keyboard, as when you play scale or arpeggio passages. The inside of the thumb and the thumb muscle mass must be soft and relaxed. In this condition, as we mentioned before, the thumb should be played vertically into the key. Always keep an open space between the thumb and the second finger as much as possible.

Picture 8
Think of the second finger from the second joint to the knuckle as one unit

The second finger is the center of the hand and arm. When you are indicating something you naturally use your second finger to point because the second finger is independent of the other fingers and has its own individual muscles and tendons in the hand and arm. When we are playing the piano it is not as natural to curve the second finger as it is with the other fingers. This is why we have to be more careful that it is relaxed.

The second finger, as the center of the hand, must be trained to have a strong knuckle and second joint in order to support the weight of the arm. To remind you, I will mention again that you should make an open space between the second finger and the thumb and that under the second joint of the second finger it should always feel soft and light.

Picture 9
Think of the back of the hand from the knuckle to the wrist as one unit. This area should always be relaxed



As indicated in the picture, the area from the second finger knuckle through the connecting bone in the back of hand to the wrist affects the motion of the second finger. This area should always be soft and relaxed so that the second finger can move freely. You may be curious about how there can be any tension at that place on the back of the hand. When you are depressing the key with the second finger, check with your other hand, as shown in the picture, to see if the wrist is pushed up. If this happens it means you are only using the finger to depress the key. This is what is causing the tension.

Remember that
1. the second joint to the knuckle (Picture 8), 2. the knuckle, and 3. the knuckle to the wrist should all go to the bottom of the key bed together as one unit with a motion of the forearm. If any of these three joints move individually this will cause tension at that point and block the weight of the arm going down into the key bed.

Picture 10
Be sure the underside of the second joint of the second finger is relaxed.

As shown in the picture, the underside of the second joint of the second finger should be rounded, soft, and relaxed. Pay special attention to this. When you play the second finger you should check this area with your other hand. This is very necessary because if the underside of this joint has tension it is impossible to deliver arm weight into the keys and make a beautiful tone, and it will not be easy to play trills.

Picture 11
When you depress the key with the second finger, this area should remain soft

As shown in the picture, this is a typical place where there is tension. As already mentioned in Pictures 8 and 9, the second finger is the center of the hand and has its own special muscles and tendons. Because of that the second finger is slower to move than we think, and it is not easy to train it to move faster. This is why it so important to check to see if there is any tension. If there is any tension it will be difficult to play scale and arpeggio passage and chords. This area should feel as loose and relaxed as when you are walking.

Important note: when you depress the key with the second finger, this area should remain soft. If that area has tension it will be pushed up and the second finger will become heavy. The second finger second joint, the knuckle, and the back of the hand near the wrist should all go down into the key bed together as one unit. This is the key to training the second finger.

Picture 12
The back of the hand must be balanced, level, and relaxed

No matter which finger is playing, the back of the hand must be balanced, level, and relaxed. There are five bones in the hand and seven muscles between these bones; four on the back of the hand, and three in the palm. The muscles on the back of the hand put the fingers in an open position. The muscles in the palm bring the fingers together. If these muscles become tense the fingers will not move freely. That is why it is important to keep the back of the hand as relaxed as when you are walking. When the right hand is playing, put your left hand gently on the back of the right hand to feel if there is any tension. If there is you will know that you have either over extended the hand or that you are using a only finger motion to depress the keys.

Picture 13
The top of the forearm close to the wrist must be relaxed



When you look at your forearm you will see that the muscle mass is thicker in the middle of the arm. The arm in thinner closer to the wrist because this is where the tendons are which pass through the wrist and connect to each finger. It is common that many people are pushing up the wrist and forearm in order to relax. But it is not necessary to do this because the muscles which need to relax are in the middle of the forearm. The pushing up motion will cause another new tension in the upper arm.

When you are depressing the key a shock occurs. If you quickly relax the wrist after you depress the key, that is already enough. You don't need any other motion. As I have already mentioned the muscles in the forearm are directly connected to the fingers. You should remember that relaxation occurs in the arm. So the pushing up motion is not necessary. It will only interrupt the arm weight going down into the bottom of the key bed.

As shown in the picture, always check this part of the arm with the other hand while you are playing. When you are doing this, you must feel that this area is quiet and relaxed. Without that it is impossible for you to make a beautiful tone because the weight of the arm cannot completely go down to the bottom of the key bed.


Picture 14
Playing with the hand in a open position is difficult. Slant the hands toward the fifth finger side.

Here I am playing an exercise in sixths, Exercise 45, page 26, in Chapter 1 of Piano Technique: Advanced Finger Exercises by Terrence Rust. In this exercise there is an interval of a perfect fifth between the second and fourth fingers. If you slant your hand toward the fifth finger side, as shown in the picture, you can easily reach the interval without stretching the fingers or causing any tension in the top of the hand, the wrist, and the forearm.

The muscles between the bones in the top of the hand need to be relaxed all of the time (this was explained in Picture 12.) This allows you to easily play directly into the key bed. Don't worry about slanting your hands. This is only temporary. Practicing with your hands slanted has two benefits: you can practice wider intervals without tension, and you can develop strong arm muscles. This will lead to a solid hand position and strong finger joints. Only relaxed muscles can develop strength and exercises in sixths will develop the weaker fourth and fifth fingers. Slanting your hand is the best way to develop arm muscles and finger independence when playing wide intervals.


Picture 15
The hands will return to the normal position when your muscles get stronger.



After you practice with your hands in a slanting position as in Picture 14, you will feel your arm muscles getting stronger, and after you are fully comfortable your hands will return naturally to this position.

Picture 16
When playing chords, the inside of the thumb and the inside of each finger facing the thumb should be relaxed

Playing chords is the same as playing octaves. We are just adding more fingers. When playing chords, the inside of the thumb and the inside of each finger facing the thumb should be relaxed. If the inside of the fingers are not relaxed, the energy going into the fingertips will be blocked, causing a hard, percussive sound. Because our five fingers are all different it is important that we develop finger independence and evenness. I will explain this and how to develop the muscles when I discuss the exercises.

Picture 17
The side of each finger facing the thumb must be relaxed

The movement of the fingers is controlled by the arm and shoulder muscles. If these muscles are strong enough we can deliver equal arm weight into each of the fingers when playing chords. Obviously chords cannot be played only with a finger motion. Relaxing the inside of each finger facing the thumb will relax the palm and the entire arm so that we can deliver arm energy into the keys and produce a deep, full, ringing tone.

Picture 18
When playing octaves, the inside of the thumb and the inside of the fifth finger, facing each other, should be relaxed

When playing octaves, the inside of the thumb and the inside of the fifth finger, facing each other, should be relaxed. Then the fingers, the palm, and the back of the hand, even the forearm, will also be relaxed. If the fingers are tight, your forearm and the upper arm will have tension. Therefore relaxing the inside of the thumb and the fifth finger creates the perfect situation for delivering arm weight into the keys when playing octaves.

People with a small hand usually make their thumb and fifth finger tight when they play octaves because they have to stretch to reach the interval. This is a difficult situation. If you stretch, the muscles will become tense and hard, and it will be impossible to produce a good tone quality. Let the other hand open the thumb and fifth finger (Picture 18) while keeping the palm relaxed. The palm should feel the same as when you are rubbing the palms together or clapping your hands. When you open the thumb and fifth fingers to play octaves be sure the top and under side of the forearm and upper arm are relaxed.