The Secret of Rounded Fingers

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Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m going to tell you the secret of rounded fingers. If you studied piano, you probably had teachers who said you must round your fingers and make them into a ball. But that can be painful! So why am I telling you to use rounded fingers? Well, there are different ways of approaching rounded fingers. I’m going to show you the correct way, which takes zero effort, and I’m going to explain why it’s so important in your piano playing. And I’m going to give you examples of it. The first example I’m going to give is the famous Mozart K 545 C Major Sonata. I’m going to explain where the rounded fingers really come into play and why it’s so important for you.

Using rounded fingers is particularly helpful when playing trills.

Why are rounded fingers necessary to be able to execute trills? Think about this. You have three different finger joints. If you only use one joint, that’s a lot of work for that one joint. But you have two other joints. If you use all your joints, you divide the load among many more joints. It’s much easier than moving a whole finger from just your knuckle. That’s the main reason. But how do you do this without stressing? The idea of holding a ball is a terrible analogy.

You never want to be in a position that takes any effort to maintain.

I’m going to repeat that. Don’t go into a hand position that takes effort to maintain. You might think, well, how can you possibly be in a position that’s rounded like that without any effort? You just drop your limp hands straight down toward the keyboard, and let your hands completely relax on the keys. Your hands will naturally be in a rounded position. And it takes absolutely no effort to maintain because your hands naturally go into that position. Try it on your piano. Without any effort at all, just go down, and you’ll be in that rounded position. Isn’t that remarkable? What are the key places where this is really handy? Well, there are several actually, and I’m going to show you. For one thing, you have a short trill right at the beginning of this Mozart sonata. If you were to try to do that with flat fingers, it would be cumbersome. Your fingers are too big and heavy. It’s much easier with rounded fingers. With flat fingers, it’s all but impossible. By the way, three and one are your strongest trill fingers. I know a lot of you like to use three and two. Those are good too. But three and one are even stronger.

You always must know exactly how many notes you’re playing in a trill.

If you don’t know how many notes you are playing in a trill, you might end on the wrong note. You need to know exactly how many notes you’re playing, and the way to do that is to practice slowly. I play triplets in the long trill before the repeat sign which is also found just before the end of the movement. Now, some of you might be tempted to play sixteenth notes there. But when you play up to speed, that’s a lot of notes to play. So, you may find triplets work much better. Find a number of notes in your trills that works for you. You don’t have to play a lot of notes in trills, but you must have trills you can execute faithfully and repeat cleanly. So remember this technique of using rounded fingers for ornamentation. Try it in your playing any time you have any kind of ornamentation or any quick playing at all, for that matter. Your rounded fingers can really come in handy to execute ornamentation. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin, here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.

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