Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Play Arpeggios: The Importance of Rotation

An important tip to master arpeggios on the piano

In this video, Robert teaches you how to correctly and most efficiently master arpeggios on the piano.

Released on April 13, 2022

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

This is Robert Estrin here with you for How to Play Arpeggios: The Importance of Rotation. I have a number of videos on arpeggios, and just a quick primer: what makes arpeggios so difficult? Even compared to scales, which have third and fourth finger crossings, as well as thumb crossings, arpeggios can be even more difficult because your thumb, in particular, and your third finger has to cross so far over your fourth finger sometimes, and it makes it difficult. So, the way to practice this, as I've shown, is have the metronome set at a slow speed and practice preparing your thumb as early as possible, which means right when the second finger plays, the thumb tucks under.

So, instead of waiting until the thumb needs to play like this, you instead prepare the thumb when the second finger plays. Right after the thumb releases, it tucks under. So, you train your hand to prepare the thumb early, like this. And the left hand is exactly the same thing coming down. That is an essential technique and practicing without moving your arms up and down, depending upon your finger strength, work with the metronome slowly, a great deal; then increase the speed to get it to two notes and eventually four notes to the beat. You might have to do metronome speeds to get it that fast.

And there's other techniques I've shown. You could play the two notes in the middle like this. And you can do rhythms as well. There are countless ways to practice arpeggios, but today I'm going to show you an essential technique, which is the rotation of the hand. You don't want to have an abrupt crossing of the thumb or your fingers at the point at which they cross over. You want to avoid this.

Now naturally, preparing the thumb early is a great way to avoid that, but there's more to it because, no matter how much you tuck your thumb under, you notice it's not all the way to where it needs to go. From a G to a C, that's really far. So, notice that my hand is slightly this way instead of this way. I start off with the thumb like this. By the time I get here, the hand rotates slightly.

And it's important that it be a smooth motion, not a jerky one. And this allows for playing fluid, faster, arpeggios. Practicing slowly, preparing the thumb in advance, and eventually you get to the point where you're rotating the hand slightly, in a smooth manner. That is the rotation of the hands in arpeggios.

You'll find, by the way, in scales, not so much, because you don't have nearly as far a reach. But there are many places in music, with broken chords of different sorts, where this rotation of the hand is really important. It also comes into play in being able to delegate the weight of the hand for balance, which is a subject for another video. I think I might have touched upon that in a previous video. If so, I'll leave it in the comments below. And anything that you're interested in, let me know.

I've got a whole list of subjects from my students and other people who contact me on a daily basis. And I appreciate the support. Thanks again for joining me. Robert Estrin, here at, your online piano resource.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Steve Blakeslee * VSM MEMBER * on June 22, 2022 @12:47 pm PST
Thanks for these good tips, Robert. I was a bit thrown off at first by the word "rotation," because rotation (= supination/pronation) is a movement of the forearm, not the hand--like when you turn your arm to see the face of a wristwatch. The wrist-joint movements that you're demonstrating are called adduction (fingers turn toward center line of body) and abduction (away from center line). This may sound like a wonky distinction, but sometimes people move awkwardly because they don't understand how their joints actually function. Thanks for reading!
Robert - host, on June 25, 2022 @7:49 am PST
Thank you for the clarification. Here are more videos on arpeggios for you:;submit=Search+Videos
Zubin * VSM MEMBER * on April 15, 2022 @7:39 pm PST
What a simple yet effective technique. Thank you Robert.
Robert - host, on April 16, 2022 @8:21 am PST
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