An Essential Wrist Technique

Piano Lessons / music lessons / An Essential Wrist Technique

Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m going to give you an important wrist technique. I’ve talked so much about how to utilize the wrist in many of my videos, as well as with my students. The wrists are almost as important as the fingers in piano playing! There’s so much the wrists allow for in phrasing, the way in which notes are connected or detached. Generally speaking, I’ve talked about how the wrists have to be independent from the arms.

If you play with your arms, there’s a limitation to the speed you can achieve compared to playing with your wrists.

The wrist also has a crisper sound. So, for example, in a Bach Minuet, you would use your wrists to articulate the staccatos. The way to practice that is with various exercises where you just use your wrists without using your arms to achieve staccatos. And one simple exercise for this is to utilize thirds, just using your second and fourth fingers. You set the metronome on 60, and play using just your wrists, not going up and down with your arms.

The arms are important in keeping your fingers exactly over the right keys.

You want to move your arms to put your fingers over the correct keys. It seems so simple, and really it is! But playing in a simple manner might be hard if you’ve never done it before. But this enables you to achieve great speed. Once you can identify the wrists separate from the arms, then you can have the speed and power to play advanced repertoire. And it’s rather effortless, because you’re only using a small amount of mass instead of trying to play with your whole body or your arms. But what I’m talking about today is something entirely different. I’ve never brought this up in any video before. It’s a different type of wrist technique.

Suppose you want something a little bit more subtle, where the staccatos are not punctuated in such a manner.

With the technique I previously described, every single one of the staccatos are accented. Maybe you don’t want that. Maybe you want it to taper at the end, yet still keep it short. For that, there is an alternative wrist technique where you come up, instead of going down with the wrist. You actually come up with the arm, and allow the wrist to just be lifeless. This way it comes off with a gentle staccato, not an accented staccato. So that’s the tip for today. If you want a gentle staccato, you can come up with the arm and allow the wrist to be floppy. You get the opposite of an accent.

Come up with the arm, and let the wrist just gently bend without any force, and you get a gentle staccato that isn’t accented.

So that’s a new technique for you to try out in your music. I’m interested in how this works for all of you! Try it out where you have staccatos that are on the off-beats, staccatos that are not punctuated, that are not to be accented. This is a way you can achieve that phrasing without accenting the staccatos.

I hope this is helpful for you! Let me know in the comments here at and YouTube. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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9 thoughts on “An Essential Wrist Technique”


  1. Hi Robert,
    Thank you very much for lessons.
    I think i struggle with staccatos so will gratefully try to apply these techniques.
    I’m sorry that i was unable to locate the exercise you mentioned in the video, (An Essential Wrist Technique), related to “utilising thirds, using only 2nd and 4th fingers”).
    Perhaps, could you add a link for this please?
    Sorry to be a bother.

      1. Thank you for getting back to me.
        No problem, i have just realised, thanks to you, Czerny (Opus 599) may be useful in helping me to incorporate this new technique. At least I’m hoping so!
        Have a good day.

  2. Your explanation and thorough demo of the wrist technique is fantastic. I forwarded it to my adult student, with whom I’ve been working on this technique AND on this Invention 1. It will reinforce what we’ve been talking about, but from a new perspective. So helpful. Thank you!

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