Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Importance of the Rotation of the Hands in Piano Playing

Why this technique is important for your piano playing

In this video, Robert talks about "rotation of the hands in piano playing." What is it?

Released on September 15, 2021

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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

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin and this is LivingPianos.com. You've probably got a little clue as to what this show is going to be about, which is the importance of the rotation of the hands in piano playing. There are so many applications about this, and I realized in all my videos I've never discussed this, and I thought it's about time.

What am I talking about, the rotation of the hands? Usually, I talk about the weight of the arm, the importance of using the wrist for staccato and 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. Well, what's this about the hands, the rotation of the hands?

Well, there's certain instances where the rotation of the hands is absolutely essential. But it's not just in these essential elements. In fact, feeling the weight transfer from one side of the hand to the other is an essential component of piano playing because sometimes the weight has to shift from one side of the hand to the other when you're playing large intervals.

That's one aspect, but I'm going to show you an example where it's absolutely essential to rotate the hands, and that is in broken octaves. I've chosen the famous Alla Turka movement from Mozart's Sonata in A Minor to show you how this works. Actually A major. The last movement's in A minor. You know the famous ... That's the famous movement. It has the octave sections earlier on; but at the end, the octaves are broken like this.

You'll notice how my hand is going back and forth rotating. That's the technique you must use for passages like this. As I said, it's not just in this; 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 really hard to try to get the fingers to do that; but you rotate the hand, and suddenly it comes to life. It's actually quite easy once you rotate the hand back and forth.

I want you to try this in your piano playing. It's not just there. Even in something slow, like the famous E flat Nocturne of Chopin ... Right there. There's a certain rotation 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, and it's not just in the extreme intervals either, although they tend to be the places where you'll notice it most.

So think about the weight of the arm and transferring that weight smoothly from one side of the hand to the other in your melodic playing; and certainly with broken octaves, you can see that this is absolutely instrumental. That's no pun intended.

I hope this is helpful for you. Try it out. If any of you play that Alla Turka movement, try rotating your hand and you'll see it comes to life. It makes it so much easier.

We'll see you next time again. I'm Robert Estrin. This is LivingPianos.com, your online piano resource. Thank you all you subscribers and Patreon subscribers making these videos possible. Consider joining Patreon to get even more content. We'll see you next time.
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