Tag Archives: Hands

Hand Position

In my first blog on piano technic, we talked about using the “natural” structural and motions of the body. Let’s get started with hand position.

  • Let your arms hang by your sides, relaxed and easy. Notice your hand position.
    • Your thumb is pointing up
    • Your radius bone is situated on top of your arm
    • Your hand position is rounded at the metacarpal-phalangeal joint 1 (piano teachers sometimes call this the bridge)
  • Gently lift your arms and rotate them into playing position.
    • Your thumbs are now facing each other
    • Your radius bone is positioned medially (toward the middle)
  • Check your hands’ “three arches” 2
    • Arch no.1: the metacarpal-phalangeal joint (also called the “transverse arch” or the “bridge”) should be slightly flexed—not tense, but not collapsed, either
    • Arch no.2: the “Russian Arch”, running from the tip of the index finger back to the wrist, should also be flexed and maintain its arch shape.
    • Arch no.3: I call this the “Sideways Arch: it goes from the tip of the second finger to the base of thumb, and back out to the tip of the thumb

Maintaining your hand’s natural structure–the “three arches”–while playing will take some mindful attention while you practice. But you will be rewarded with greater freedom, a richer sound and—best of all—no pain.


  1. For readers unfamiliar with bone terminology, here is a link to a useful diagram http://www.gzaic.org/anatomy-of-the-hand-bones-2/.
  2. I did a very interesting interview with the Canadian pianist Alan Fraser that gives more information on the arches, along with many other points of technical interest. It was published in the September/October, 2015 issue of Clavier Companion.

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