Once you have learned the correct playing position and your piano bench is at the proper height, the final piece of the puzzle is how to hold your hands. It is important that your wrists, hands, and fingers be relaxed at all times when you play the piano. Stiffening up will only hinder your ability, and may even cause injury. It is natural to tense up when playing the piano, so you must always be aware of your muscle relaxation level and fight the tendency to become tense. Remember this relaxation test: When playing the piano quickly lift your hands above the keyboard. Your hands should bounce gently on the wrists, in total relaxation. If your hands remain straight, you are too tense!
To achieve correct hand position it is helpful to imagine gently holding an apple in your hand, with your relaxed fingers curved around and barely touching the apple. Then, simply turn your hand over and place it on top of the keys. You should be in perfect hand position. Be sure your wrists are relaxed but straight, so the back of your forearm to the back of your hand forms a straight line, and does not curve up or down between the wrist and the hand.
FIGURE 3-3: Correct hand position