Piano songs - Canon in D

Play piano songs in a binding legato by using the wrist to make lateral adjustments to the hand placing the fingers at the best positions to draw out sounds

The circled part of the phrase shown in Image 1 below is the beginning of a changed mood in the phrase belonging to Canon in D. 


Playing it required a light and clear touch to draw out an appropriate soft sound to distinguish it from the notes that came earlier.


  • What? - Wrists
  • Why? - Play in a binding legato

  • How? - Apply the wrists' side to side movement

Being the brilliant assumer of things that I am, proceeded to make contact with the F using my fifth finger to touch the key, channeling all power to the tip of the finger to control the strength of the sound I intended to draw out of the piano. It was my hope that I would be able to get a soft sound that is firm enough to be appreciated. The outcome was inconsistent. Sometimes I was too loud, others I did not make a sound at all. Only about 25% of my attempts were successful.

Overcoming inconsistencies in
playing piano songs

Three days later, after I made adjustment to the movement of my hand was I able to achieve a higher success rate. Instead of concentrating power at the tip of the finger, relying on the wrist to bend the hand and slide the finger into position with an appropriately distributed amount of force to touch the key ( F note ) was what untied the knot.

A strong fifth finger is undeniably a requirement to execute the first note in the melody of the circled part of the phrase shown in Image 1, more importantly though is the wrist. Deft use of the wrist’s movement, its unique ability to maneuver the hand determined the quality of touch I desired.


The wrist is a flexible structure made up of two rows of small bones connecting the arm and hand. When the wrist motions the hand, move it up and down or side to side, these actions are known in anatomy as radiocarpal motion. A motion most crucial to success in piano playing, therefore I thought it wise to get a picture of what the wrist’s structure looks like as shown in Image 2 above.

Unlocking the wrists to play piano songs

Production of delicate sounding tone call for unlocking the wrist, releasing all tension from it. Upon which muscles in the upper arm can work to rotate - making rotary motion of the hand possible. The pianist can apply the rotary motion to his advantage by controlling its speed as his hand connects with the keys on the piano. He therefore controls the amount of force at which his fingers hit the keys thus determine the quality of tone produced – delicate, hard, soft or loud.

In contrast to piano songs such as Rondo Alla Turca in which staccatos dominate, Canon in D emphasizes legato playing. Notes are left until the last moment before the fingers pressing them are lifted to land on the next ones in immediate succession to keep them connected. Effectively playing the notes in a binding legato. I have found that a binding legato is better executed by making the wrist move the hand sideways guiding the fingers into position.

The best position for the fingers is about 1 centimetre from the end tip of a key before the finger fall off the piano.  At this position the fingers draw out the sound from the piano at its firmest, be it a soft sound or a loud sound. To get a good feel for how the wrist move the hand sideways to affect a binding legato, try playing scales 2 octaves or more. As you ascend and descend the keys on the piano compare the connection between one key and another when; (1) Wrist locked, hand fixed in position and (2) Wrist free to move hand sideways. The latter is what is called lateral adjustment. It results in free, focused, loose piano playing that weld notes together in a tightly bound legato.

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