Piano technique refers to how one plays the piano, or the physical motions of piano playing. There are numerous theories and approaches to this, and even players taught in the same method end up with their own unique style.
The following data is a summary of technique basics that I have learned in more than 40 years of studying, playing and teaching piano.
The following is a description of what could be called “optimum playing position”. Sometimes this is not possible, for example if you are playing multiple keyboards. I usually try to get as close to this as I can. Much of this can be applied if you are standing up playing a keyboard as well.
When playing the piano, it is better to sit on a piano bench rather than a chair or stool. Sit about halfway back.
The height of the keys should be even with your belly button. Some players find it more comfortable to have the height of the keys a little higher than their belly button. Having the keys lower is not recommended because it can lead to wrist pain, etc.
Move the bench to a place so that you’re not too close or too far away from the keys. If you are too close, your arms will be too bent. If you are too far, your arms will be too straight.
Your forearms should be parallel to the floor, wrist flat and fingers curved.
It is most common to sit a little to the left of the middle C. However, depending on what you’re playing, you might want to sit to the right. Basically, center yourself around what you are playing.
Approximately 90% of the time, you should have all your fingers touching the keys, even fingers that are not being used at a particular moment.
Mechanics of the Piano
It is helpful to know a little about how the piano works. I recommend looking inside the piano while you play some notes. Notice what happens when you push down a key, when you push down each pedal, etc.
Also, see what happens when you try to play a note when its key is already half down. (Usually it won’t make any sound)
The main thing to realize is that the piano keyboard is velocity sensitive. This means that the faster you depress a key, the louder the note will be. This is true of most electric keyboards as well.
It is not how hard you push a key or how much pressure or weight you apply that increases the volume.
So, the correct way to play is to push down a key quickly if you want a loud note, slowly if you want a soft note.
When you hold a key (or several keys) down, it is best to do it lightly. Someone should be able to easily lift your hand off the keyboard. As soon as you play a note, you should relax! If you play too heavy, you will be wasting energy and will probably get tired more quickly.
Overall, you should be relaxed when playing the piano. You can play so much better when you are relaxed. There are times when you will want to tense up, but only for a moment.
Always release any tension quickly.
Part Two of this article will explain more details about piano/keyboard technique.