How to Achieve Power & Speed in Your Playing: More Motion = Power – Less Motion = Speed

Piano Lessons / general / How to Achieve Power & Speed in Your Playing: More Motion = Power – Less Motion = Speed

Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m going to share an important tip with you. More motion equals more volume and less motion equals less volume and more speed. It’s as simple as that. This applies not just to finger work, but to wrist technique as well. I’m going to illustrate both for you today!

The answer is, it really depends upon the context.

Sometimes you want to be able to play delicately and quietly. For example, in the B flat minor Nocturne of Chopin. If you play it with a lot of finger motion, not staying close to the keys, with raised fingers, you will hear a great deal of sound generated from the sheer motion. But if you want to achieve a real pianissimo, you’ll use less motion and stay close to the keys. You don’t even need to use the una corda pedal, the soft pedal! You can get so much control when you’re close to the keys! You get a really soft sound. Now the converse of that, if you want more volume in your playing, simply use more finger motion. Raise your fingers higher. It’s very simple physics really. If you want to bang a nail into the wall, you’re not going to strike from right next to it. You’re going to give some momentum and strike from above. Well the same thing is true with chord technique on the piano.

How does this apply to wrist work?

Let’s say you want to be able to play light and fast chords in the Military Polonaise of Chopin. If you try to use a lot of motion, it’s going to be very loud, but it’s going to be difficult to play fast. You get a lot of volume, but you can’t achieve much speed. Speed is related to how much motion you use in your playing. Staying closer to the keys, using less wrist motion, you have more control, more speed, with less volume.

The amount of motion affects the volume and speed of your playing.

This applies to the wrists as well as finger technique. So remember: when you want to play a true beautiful pianissimo, stay close to the keys. The same is true of anything with staccatos. If you want light action from the wrist, staying close to the keys is going to give you a crisp light sound, whereas more motion is going to give you more power. For fast playing, stay close to the keys and use a minimum of motion in fingerwork or wrist action.

So now you know how to get power and how to get lightness and speed. Staying closer to the keys enables quieter playing and quicker response. To achieve greater power, use more motion. That’s the tip for today! Try it out in your piano playing! Let me know how it works for you in the comments below here on YouTube and Thanks so much for joining me. I’m Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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9 thoughts on “How to Achieve Power & Speed in Your Playing: More Motion = Power – Less Motion = Speed”


  1. Robert, Thank You so very much for your taking the time to do these sessions. I played piano for over 50 years. My Concert days are almost over. I have a question for you: Can you share with me the best fingering for the chromatic scale. I noticed a pianist who played a long chromatic run and his fingering struck me as unusual. I start with ‘C’ so my fingering in the right hand is 13131123, 1313123 etc. This pianist played 12121231212123.. I need speed. I had some surgery done on my right hand so I feel like a baby, I just need some help building up strength in my right arm and hand. Here is my email: Again thank you for being such a wonder person. You have a lot of students that depend on your advise. I graduated FSU Piano Major…Ha! not any more. God Bless, Jerry Stacy

    1. 12121231212123 is what I teach intermediate students because it’s easy to learn. For maximum speed, you want to involve your 4th finger. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Here is one possibility also starting on C:

      1234123123412 From this point forward, you would only be able to use the 4th finger on B-flat. But getting more fingers involved can naturally help you divide the load making it less taxing to play fast.

  2. You talked about using a hammer, swinging it over a long distance to pound in a nail, along with getting volume out of the piano by lots of finger motion. The same principles apply to martial arts. Say you want to break a board. You want to cover as much distance with your fist or knife edge as possible, so to increase the distance and the speed, you not only strike from a distance with your hand, but you also rotate your hips, because this adds distance and speed to your hand. It can make a difference on whether you break that board or not!

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