How to Develop More Stamina on the Piano

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Have you ever wanted to develop more stamina on the piano? That’s the subject for today. Many of my students, and people who contact me, wonder how to develop more stamina, to be able to play longer periods of time without wearing out. Some people find if they play through a longer piece, by the time they get to the end of it, their hands are giving out. They wonder, Is there anything they can do about that? I’m going to give you two tips today to develop more stamina in your playing!

Play more and vary your practice.

You may find that if you play for a certain amount of time, your hands get tired. Your abilities start to fall off on what you’re able to do with the instrument. Well, here’s a tip for you: Vary your practice between things that are technical and physically oriented, and things that are more mental. Memorization comes to mind. If you’re learning solo music, memorizing takes a great deal of time. Even if you’re playing music that you’re reading, you need to practice the music, figure things out, and intellectually understand the score. For example, let’s say you’re working on a really tough passage, spending a good deal of time with it. Take a break! Move on to other things. Absorb new material or read through some of your new pieces, which might be very slow going at first. This won’t be nearly as physically demanding. But at the same time, you’re practicing for longer periods of time. Just like in exercising, the varied amount of work you do with interval training (alternating between high and low intensity activities) is beneficial to your muscles and your general well-being. It’s the same thing with your piano playing! So vary your practice.

Another thing that is incredibly valuable is just playing through your pieces.

Let’s say you’re working on a new piece, but you have several older pieces that you still have in shape to some degree. Play through your pieces each day! By playing through your music, you get used to playing for longer periods of time. Not only that, you have the tremendous benefit of solidifying your performance! If you’re used to running through your pieces again and again and again, when an opportunity comes to play for people, it’ll be second nature for you.

The other technique has to do with how you approach the keyboard.

You can actually play lighter on the piano. There are times when this is incredibly valuable. In your practice, of course, at times, you’re going to play slowly with firm fingers to make sure every note is secure. But when you’re performing, you flip that. You play lightly, staying close to the keys, with rounded fingers. Why rounded fingers? There are two fundamental reasons. Number one is the fact that if you play with flat fingers, you’re using one joint, just the knuckle joint. When you play with rounded fingers, you’re using all the joints. So the load of working to push the keys down is spread among more joints and muscles. The other thing is if you just let your hands rest on the keys, they’re naturally going to go into a rounded position. It takes effort to keep your fingers flat! So just let your hands go into the natural rounded position, and you’ll get the benefit of all your joints working together to play the piano with ease.

Stay close to the keys.

It takes much more effort to raise your fingers. In practice, using raised fingers helps to delineate what keys are down and what keys are up. It really helps your hands feel the notes and all the reaches. That’s a great way to practice. But when you’re performing, you want to lighten things up and stay close to the keys. This is also true with wrist work with staccatos and such. You use your wrists in order to achieve a crisp staccato and speed. But by staying closer to the keys, you play lighter. Staying close to the keys takes much less effort and it enables you to go faster.

Developing more endurance involves practicing intelligently.

To recap: try to play through a lot of music on a regular basis. Take breaks if you get tired, but come back to it again and again. You could just take breaks from intense practice that uses a lot of physiology and do more mental work. Intersperse the physical with mental practice. When you perform, lighten up. Stay close to the keys with rounded fingers and don’t use excessive wrist motion for octaves, chords and staccato technique. This should help you develop more endurance. Let me know how this works for you! Any other tips? You can post them here on and on YouTube. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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