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5 Ways to Reduce Shoulder Tension While Learning the Piano

May 5.2020
Today we’ll look at five suggestions that’ll help you avoid shoulder tension next time you’re learning how to play the...

Today we’ll look at five suggestions that’ll help you avoid shoulder tension next time you’re learning how to play the piano.

All piano enthusiasts have experienced this predicament. We sit in front of our keyboards and at times hunched over them for long durations with our shoulders raised and stiff. What’s more? Most of us do not even notice it – until our shoulders start aching after the practice sessions.

So it’s no surprise that shoulder tension is an issue facing most, if not all, beginner piano students.

Here are five suggestions that will help you avoid this problem while practicing.

Steps to easing shoulder tension

Step 1

The first step is sitting at your keyboard and relaxing your upper body completely. Swing your arms down in a relaxed position and release them until they’re loose and heavy.

Subsequently, increase shoulder tension by rising your shoulders to your ears. Remember this feeling of discomfort and tension!

Go back to the relaxed position where your arms were swinging loosely on your sides, and more importantly, note the difference. It is this difference that will remind you to stay relaxed and ease shoulder tension while playing.

Step 2

Place your two hands on your keyboard (but do not sound or play any notes) with your shoulders in a down, normal relaxed position. Make sure your hands, elbows, and arms are still heavy and totally lose.

The goal of this step is to teach you how to get used to the relaxed feeling and that’s why I recommend you do not distract yourself by playing the piano.

In addition to that, your hands might slide off your keyboard while you relax, and that is because you’re used to shoulder tension while playing. If this happens, rest one of your hands on your keyboard and hold it in place using your other hand.

This will still allow you to get used to the step while releasing any tension build up in your hand, arm, and shoulder.

Step 3

Now that you’re familiar with the relaxed feeling short of shoulder tension, it is time to play the piano. A simple short five fingers exercise should allow you to play while at the same time focusing on your relaxed stance.

Slowly play the keyboard, and while you press every key, ensure you pay attention to your arms’ activity and that you’re not causing any shoulder tension.

Step 4

Initially, it is essential that you pay 50% of your attention to your shoulder. They’ll only learn to stay relaxed if you manage to harness your attentiveness while at the same time playing.

With that in mind, the fourth step is repeating step 3 long enough until the relaxed posture becomes a habit. If you tend to get carried away while practicing, then you could write a reminder on the score. That’s the trick I used while starting out.

Step 5

After several weeks (or sometimes even months) of dedicated concentration while practicing, you should be sufficiently mindful of your shoulders’ movement, because you’ve spent enough time thinking about them as well as their activity – with the primary aim of ensuring they stay relaxed.

The relaxed sitting posture will ultimately become your habit (the good habit) and replace your old, sore stance.


Remember, the key to effectively relaxing and letting go of your shoulder tension while playing the piano is to stay mindful of the tension the whole time. And when you get used, your body will instantly start responding differently, which will, in turn, lay an entire new realm of flexibility at your fingertips.

If you like this article, I’m confident you’ll love this one on the benefits of learning how to play the piano online.

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