musician injury

Reducing Hand and Wrist Tension at the Piano

Lately, I have been harping on my students about their wrist technique. Some are playing with locked wrists or excess hand tension, even with us working on it during their lessons. The bottom line is that we teachers can only help you so much in a lesson, the rest comes down to how you practice at home.

Here are a few videos by some of my esteemed colleagues on hand and wrist technique:

Irina Gorin and Wrist Relaxation Exercises:

I showed this to an intermediate student. He started to make some progress after viewing this. Irina has more useful videos on her YouTube Channel.

Josh Wright on Reducing Hand Tension

Although he still has some tension (those pesky octaves!), Josh does have some good points. Let's chalk it up to the fact that he's showing you a section that he is working on, so it's a work in progress.

Robert Estrin on Wrist Technique with Octaves:

Robert Estrin has a treasure chest of wonderful piano tutorials on his website. Every pianists should bookmark his site.

The Allan Fraser Institute's Lecture-Demonstration on Hand Tension and Proper Arm Weight Technique

Thanks to Brian Riker for sharing this one.

I promised my students that I would send them some clips to help them play with more relaxed wrists and a less hand tension.

Sometime during Christmas break, I will record some videos in which I deconstruct my piano technique. When I mentioned this to my students, they immediately asked if we could use the GoPro POV camera and the other cameras to film them as well. What a great way to analyze your basic piano technique!

I think I will start using an elastic band. Up to this point, I've either had my students put their hand on mine (or my forearm) to feel the arm weight and tension I use to play their trouble spots. Or, I'll hold their forearm and won't let go until I sense they have relaxed sufficiently.

We've been using imagery a lot too. That's something you might want to try if your teacher hasn't asked you to yet.

Last night, I asked a student to imagine that he was in a pool and he was dragging his arm back and forth in the water. Then, I asked him to imagine that his arms were made of air and that gravity was pulling his hand down towards the keys.

Make sure you stretch regularly to reduce hand tension and prevent musician injuries. Finally, I will leave you with something I say regularly to my students: Spongy wrists, firm fingertips.

Understanding Musician Injuries

The Types, Causes and Prevention of Music-Related Injuries: Musicians are prone to injury from repeating a motion countless times when practicing. A better understanding of music injuries is vital for musicians' health.

Understanding Musician Injuries

Musician injuries - we've all had them but we rarely address them until they become debilitating. I'm writing a series on understanding musician injuries and injury prevention for, a comprehensive online magazine to address this important issue. The first two articles are up:

Understanding Musician Injuries Face and Neck Stretches for Musicians

(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.


On Injuries and Piano Practice

Source: Licensed for commercial use.One of my students showed up with a swollen finger last week. C injured it during a non-musical activity and after several days, the swelling was increasing. I demanded that she go see a doctor to get that finger checked out. C injured the middle finger of her left hand, which has presented us with the challenge of how to structure practices and lessons. It will take some time for her hand to heal but she can't take time off from practicing if she is to take her exam in the spring.

I have decided to zoom in on her weak spots. On Monday, I attended a workshop by the Royal Conservatory of Music, unveiling their new technical requirements. Some ideas were new while some I needed the refresher on.

C, like the rest of my students will be drilling their scales, chords and arpeggios at least five times per practice; playing them differently each time. Here are some of the variations:

  • play legato
  • play staccato
  • play portato
  • vary the dynamics
  • add a crescendo while ascending and diminuendo when descending
  • vary the rhythm (straight eighths, jazz triplets, even triplets, dotted half note followed by a quarter note)
  • vary the accents (accent beat one the first time, beat two the second, etc.)
  • play a repeated note scale (C-C-C D-D-D E-E-E)
  • play one octave as quarter notes, two octaves as eighth notes, three octaves as triplets and four octaves as sixteenth notes
  • play chords up the scale

In C's case, she'll have to just practice her right hand and rest her left. With these exercises, it's imperative to use proper fingering.

Tonight, we focused on phrase shaping, continuation notes and right hand rhythms. Next week, we'll tap practice the left hand rhythms.

C is using this opportunity to work harder on her ear training and theory.

The following are informative articles/discussions on dealing with piano-related injuries:







Please feel free to share your tips on injury prevention or dealing with injuries.

(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.