Play Piano Chords Pain-Free

Cassi Falk  /  Technique  /  UPDATED Jan 13, 2023

Tension and even pain in the forearms, hands, and wrists are common complaints from piano players. While it is normal to experience some level of discomfort while we build up and develop our muscles as new piano players, it is NOT normal to experience pain. So make sure you’re playing with correct posture.

Cassi has some great tips for you on how to eliminate tension, especially when it comes to larger chords. There are three main tips that you should implement into your regular routine to stay pain-free and play more beautifully.

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Put Your Wrist To Work

When we play larger chords we require tension in our hands in order to keep the shape. A great way to practice this is by playing octave scales. As you play, think of PULLING the notes down at the wrist. Let your wrist do the work, not your fingers.  

Each time you release the note, lift your hand up completely, as if there is a marionette string lifting you by the wrist up off the keys. Completely relax the fingers so they resemble a mop and give them a little shake! Then continue on to the next octave in your scale.

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Reduce The Pressure

Oftentimes, after playing a note or chord we hold way more downward pressure than is needed to sustain the notes we’ve just played. Check to see if you can relax some of that downward pressure once you’ve played the notes while still pressing them down. You can also use your pedal to help with this so that you can get away with playing the notes and releasing them right away and allowing the pedal to do some of the work. 

Put Your Body Into It!

Use your body! We can use our WHOLE body when we play to get a bigger sound on the piano. You can lean in with your whole body rather than just using the force of your arms and fingers. It’s difficult to do this if you’re sitting too low, so make sure your piano bench or keyboard are adjusted to the right height. 

Final Thoughts

Too much tension and discomfort can really be disheartening as a piano player. It can mean that we can’t play for as long as we want or as fast as we want. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and if you start using these techniques, you’ll develop a looser, faster technique that will keep you pain-free.

Have fun practicing!

Cassi Falk is trained as an Elementary and Intermediate Specialist through the Royal Conservatory Teacher Certification Program. She loves the feeling of accomplishment after a good practice session and seeing students discover music. Learn more about Cassi here.

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