How to Play Piano With One Hand

Pianos require two hands, but one-handed music exists with modifications.

Playing a musical instrument with one hand requires the use of specially written music. It is difficult, and in many cases, impossible to play regular piano music with just one hand, as it requires two hands to play the harmony and the melody. For this reason, one-handed music does exist for pianists who have sustained injuries or only have one hand. An injured concert pianist may require music modified for a one-armed player.

Music Reduction

Step 1

Analyze the music: If the treble or bass clef part houses the melody for the piece, then you can play the music one-handed. Most piano music places the melody in the right hand. In the case where the melody is divided between two parts, reduce both parts to a single-handed piece.

Step 2

Decide how to reduce the parts if the music does not naturally lend itself to one-handed playing. Eliminate the chords by taking a pencil and crossing them out of the music.

Step 3

Remove musical fragments or gestures that do not directly pertain to the melody. Edit the piece to remove anything that doesn’t add to the melody. Use your best judgment to determine what elements to remove.

Step 4

Enter piano fingerings by attaching the numbers one to five to the notes. Choose fingerings that allow you to play the music with as little motion as possible. Play through the music and carefully think about the best hand position to accomplish the piece.

Advanced One-Handed Music

Step 1

Purchase a reference book of one-handed music. This resource will allow you to access thousands of pieces of one-handed piano music.

Step 2

Locate string pieces. String works lend themselves well to one-handed playing since they employ chords which fit easily in the pianist's reach and use the same clefs as the piano.

Step 3

Play the music with your available hand by finding ways to play each phrase completely one-handed. Practice different combinations of fingerings until you find one that is comfortable. Write numbers to indicate fingering positions when you narrow down a part. Using specific fingering combinations will make it possible to employ muscle memory.


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