The Importance of the Rotation of the Hands in Piano Playing

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about the importance of the rotation of the hands in piano playing. There are so many applications for this. What do I mean by the rotation of the hands? I’ve talked about the weight of the arm, the importance of using the wrist for staccato, octaves, and chord technique. I’ve talked about how the arms are necessary for really massive chords. The fingers, of course, do so much on the piano. So what’s this about the rotation of the hands?

There are certain instances when the rotation of the hands is absolutely essential.

With broken octaves it’s absolutely essential to rotate the hands. For example, in the famous Alla Turca movement from Mozart’s Sonata in A-major K.331. The last movement is in A minor, incidentally. It has the octave sections earlier on, but at the end the octaves are broken. When you play this, your hand must rotate back and forth. That’s the technique you must use for passages like this. It’s not just in this piece, but this is an extreme example. How would you play this without rotating the hands? I have no idea. I don’t think it would be possible. It’s nearly impossible to do this with the fingers alone. But by rotating your hand back and forth, suddenly it comes to life! It’s actually quite easy when you rotate your hand back and forth.

Feeling the weight transfer from one side of the hand to the other is an essential component of piano playing.

Sometimes the weight has to shift from one side of the hand to the other when you’re playing large intervals. But this technique is useful even in something slow, like the famous E -flat Nocturne of Chopin. There’s a certain rotation you need to get the weight of the arm to transfer from the first finger to the fifth finger. You must rotate! So rotation is an essential part of piano playing. It’s not just with extreme intervals either, although they tend to be places where it’s essential.

I want you to try this in your piano playing!

Think about the weight of your arm and transferring that weight smoothly from one side of your hand to the other in your melodic playing. Certainly with broken octaves, you can see this is absolutely instrumental, no pun intended! I hope this is helpful for you.Try it out! If any of you play the Mozart Alla Turca movement, try rotating your hand, and you’ll appreciate the facility this technique achieves. It makes it so much easier to play. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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