Right hand Technique & Dexterity

Hello all, I’m new here, about 20 days in. I upgraded my monthly plan to the yearly plan only after 5 days, I’m that impressed with this place and the breadth of what’s on offer.

I have quite a bit to say about what I like here, but this my 1st post and so I’ll get to my question.

I’ve tried searching the forums but haven’t found it, I’m pretty sure it’s been asked already, but I’m coming up blank, my apologies if this has already been covered.

What do you all do for gaining right hand (specifically, not only) technique and dexterity?

I’m following the practice plans, and as suggested, I’m going through different courses at once which cross reference the skills we’re building (mainly voicing-wise so far for me). In the 12 Bar Blues course for the RH we’re working on chordal tones, arpeggios, pick up notes and passing tones, etc, great stuff, but I’d also love to spend a bit of time everyday on right hand skill building, without bringing out my old mildewed Hanon.

Many of the great jazz pianists we love were classically trained, and so for them it was probably more of a question of which note to hit rather than how to get their hands to hit it. To varying degrees of course. Bill Evans talks in a documentary about some “high flyers” as if he wasn’t one, and had to make his mark through harmony. But we all know how he could move the notes up and down with apparent ease.

So that’s my question. Again, sorry if it’s already been answered a ton of times, I couldn’t find it. Any advice on good material for running the fingers up and down, kind of like gymnastics, or is the theory here that practicing real licks is the best bet…

Below the fold…

This is what I like about this online course and community, 20 days in

The best thing I like is the emphasis on splitting time between theory and learning actual songs, and providing tutorials for basic renditions of the songs using what we’ve learned in the theory. Learning songs is much harder than doing drills, makes the brain hurt finding (or following) the voicings, but there’s nothing like figuring out the 2-5 to come based on the drills, see it actually occur in the tutorial, like in the LH and then play the melody with the RH on top, slowly. Very rewarding.

Have a nice Monday, or whatever day you’re having

Oliver Hope


Hi Oliver :wave:

Welcome to the PianoGroove community! I’m glad to hear you are enjoying our learning platform.

Great question here and a wonderful point for discussion.

For myself, if there is a certain sound or style of playing that piques my ears when I’m listening to a jazz recording, I listen to it over and over, then I try to work out what is happening, then I try to imitate and replicate it exactly by playing along with the record.

From a jazz standpoint, that is the ultimate drill/exercise/etude for developing and improving my technique and dexterity.

Yes I would say that as a jazz piano student, the latter is the far more productive endeavour.

The most solid piece of advice that I could give you, from my own experience, and from working with lots of great teachers, is:

  • Find something on a recording (a lick, a line, a fill, an intro, an outro, whatever it may be) that is just beyond your grasp, ie you don’t currently have the technique and dexterity to play it.

  • Firstly analyse it and figure out exactly what is going on from a theoretical standpoint.

  • Then play along with the record, perhaps slow it down to begin with if necessary, and the goal is to be able to imitate the exact phrasing, articulation, and other nuances.

The key benefit of the approach I outline above is that we improving our technique and dexterity; but most importantly we are dong it in a direction that appeals to us on a personal level.

Hanon exercises were designed for concert pianists, and whilst these exercises are wonderful etudes for improving dexterity, if there is a specific sound or style that you want to play, my advice would be to learn it straight from the source ie. the recording.

Coincidentally, we have a PianoGroove teacher interview that addresses your exact question. It will be published shortly - I’ll post it here in this thread.

Yes for new students, splitting time evenly between theory drills and jazz standards is my recommended approach. It keeps things entertaining whilst also developing our knowledge of the essential theory.

The other element is what I’m outlining above in this post. Slowly this will become more and more important as you realise how valuable an exercise it is.

I’d say 90%+ of my own time at the piano is spent listening, transcribing, and emulating my favourite recordings.

I hope this helps Oliver and I will post the full teacher interview this week to give you more insight into this topic.

Enjoy the lessons and resources, here to help if you have any further questions.


Yes you’ve answered my question. Thanks,

Your continued emphasis on listening and transcribing is both daunting in the challenge and motivating as it only makes sense. I’ve never been particulary good at that skill, but skills are built so thanks for the reminder.


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Hi @OliverHope,

Here is the interview video that addresses your question about right hand dexterity and improving our technique.

This is similar to the guidance I gave you above but Jon goes into a little more detail. I hope you find it insightful and useful:

We have a whole forum section dedicated to ear training and transcription, check that out here if you are looking for some initial inspiration to get started:


I’m here to help should you have any further questions on the topic.