The Ultimate Wrist Exercise for Piano

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m going to share with you the ultimate wrist exercise for your piano technique. Wrists are so important in piano playing! Everyone knows that you need to use your fingers in order to play the piano. But the fingers don’t do you much with fast chords and octaves. It’s very hard to play octaves with your fingers with the exception of legato octaves. But when something is fast, there’s no way the fingers can keep up. You have to use your wrists! If you use your arms, it’s cumbersome. You can’t go fast enough! The wrists are also incredibly important for chord technique. There are some chord techniques that are slower and bigger where you use your arms in order to get maximum power. But in most instances, the wrists must be utilized. The arms are just too big and slow.

How do you develop the wrists?

Developing the independence of the wrists so you use them separately from your arms is a major difficulty for some people. For others it comes quite naturally. Some people struggle to avoid arm motion when utilizing the wrist. Your arms have too much mass to go fast enough in many cases. But your wrists can go very fast! Here is a very simple exercise for you.

It’s how you do the exercise that makes all the difference.

It only utilizes the second and fourth fingers in both hands. Using only your wrists, you just go up on white keys starting on C and E in both hands ascending in thirds. You just go eight times on C and E, then you go up eight times on D and F. You go up as high as you want diatonically (by white keys), then come back down again eight times on each third. Do this with the metronome set at 60.

When you do this exercise, your arms should not be going up and down at all.

You want to use only the wrists. But the arms are very important! They must guide the hands over the right keys. So after the eighth time playing C and E, the arms move right over D and F. If you’ve never done this exercise before, you’re going to feel it in your forearms, because these are muscles you don’t ordinarily use. If you are a tennis player you might have very well-developed wrists. But other than that, there are not a lot of times when you use your wrists independently from your arms. The first time you do this you might not keep the wrist motion separate from your arms and have both of them working together. That doesn’t do much to strengthen your wrists when using your arms.

Keep your wrists up the entire time, except for the brief moment when they play.

Another problem you might face is letting your hands fall back down on the keys when you’re not playing. It may seem fine when practicing slowly, but this is a hyper slowed down version of what you need to be able to accomplish playing fast later. There won’t be time to go back down. You must strike from above. It has to be one motion.

There’s one more problem to watch out for. You have your wrists raised, but then your arms get lazy and start lowering. Before you know it, you’re playing in a terribly uncomfortable position with your wrists bent way up. Even when you’re playing the notes, they can still be bent. This isn’t good. It can be destructive, as a matter of fact. You don’t want to flex too far because you have nerves that can be stressed. So it’s a gentle slope of the wrist. At the moment the keys are struck, your wrists should be straight.

Go through this exercise once every day. You’ll be amazed at how the independence of your wrists helps you to develop strength, and speed!

The wrists are so important, from octaves to chord technique to delineating staccatos. Utilizing the wrists for staccatos gives you a crisp sound. When using your arms for staccatos, you would get a limp, heavy sound. The wrists play an incredibly important part in piano playing! This exercise can help you develop the independence and strength of your wrists. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Wrist Exercise for Piano”


    1. If you become tired after a few minutes of this exercise, then you are doing it correctly! The whole point is working out the muscles you don’t ordinarily use which are necessary for good staccato, chord and octave technique. Keep it up doing a little bit of the exercise each day, and your strength will grow!

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