The Traps of our Piano Technique Heritage



In recent years we have seen progress in several areas of piano pedagogy.

But piano technique training has not progressed over the years. The same old myths and philosophies still persist—strong arch, strong curved fingers, independent fingers, and arm weight.

And injuries in our field are at an all-time high. And colorless, soulless playing is most often what we hear.

Why? Because of these pervasive myths and philosophies.

History—Wanda Landowska with Focal Dystonia

Note the claw-like hand with uncontrollable curling, clenching, and extension.

Today—similar training still exists

With resulting focal dystonia in a 26-year-old performer.

Photo below. Click this link to watch the video


Hand Positions to Avoid

The following hand positions inhibit the ability to develop a vast palette of color in one’s playing, regardless of age or experience.


Old Rules

  • Gravity

  • Relaxation

  • Arm Weight

  • Free Fall

  • Resting Down

  • Strong Arch

  • Strong Fingers

  • Curled Fingers

  • Extended Fingers

  • Finger Independence

  • Finger Exercises

  • Firm Fingertips

  • Slow Practice Drills

  • Wrist Circles

  • Rotation "from" the Forearm


Reese Technique for Effortless Playing

  • Overcomes Gravity

  • Uses the entire body: the back, the torso, feet, legs, glutes, arms, freely moving fingers.

  • Suspension, not relaxation

  • Arm and body action, no arm weight

  • Flexible palm, no "strong arch"

  • Back muscles move the upper arm which places each playing finger into its momentary "posture".

  • Fingers can be put into key by arm and palm

  • Fingers can be "played" by the key

  • Fingers can lift, then drop. No pushing.

  • Fingers actively release forward, not up and curled.

  • Rotation: Humerus swivels (with proper use of back muscles) and rotates the forearm.

Old hand position rules above have resulted in a record number of injured pianists, as well as pianists at every level who struggle with tension and fatigue.


Effortless Playing training enables pianists of every level to play without strain, fatigue, or injury, and provides a vast palette of sound and color at the pianist’s fingertips for singing tone and expressivity.


An example of effortless playing. Use of the whole body, Free Arms, flexible palms.

Nancy ReeseComment