Can You Play Piano with Long Nails?

Piano Keyboard Guide

When you’re learning to play the piano, one of the questions you might ask is, should you play the piano if you have long fingernails? Officially, there is no right or wrong answer to this question but on a practical level, the answer is a bit different. While many piano players play well with long nails, there are usually more disadvantages than there are advantages to this practice. Most piano players do in fact keep their nails relatively short and if you’re not sure why, just know that there are some legitimate reasons for them to do so. Shorter nails can make playing the piano a lot easier, so let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

It Helps Keep Your Fingers on the Keys

Simply put, if your fingernails are too long, it’s going to be harder to keep your fingers on the keys, especially if you want to keep them in the correct position. When your fingernails are too long, they can slip and slide all over the keys, which can make you miss keys and mess up important parts of the music. In other words, it will result in a mistake! When your nails are the appropriate length, your fingers will glide across the keys as they’re supposed to and remain in the right position the entire time, which means that every note will be just what the audience wants to hear.

When you’re learning to play, one of the most important lessons you’ll have is how to place your fingers correctly on each key. This is why piano teachers can always tell which players took lessons and which ones taught themselves: the position of their fingers is a dead giveaway! Your piano teacher may even require that you keep your nails short since playing piano with long nails usually causes more mess-ups, but even if the teacher says nothing about this, learning to play while your nails are short will keep those fingers in the right position from start to finish every time.

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They Make Unnecessary Noises

Even if you’ve learned how to play while having long nails, they’ll make clicking sounds while you play if your nails are too long, which everyone around you will notice. It may not be a problem if you’re on stage because the audience will likely be too far away from you to hear this but it will definitely be noticeable when you’re playing for a small group or for your piano teacher. This clack-clack sound is extremely annoying to most people and although it may not be heard by everyone around you, it will certainly be heard by those close to you.

And you can’t get away from this irritating sound because regardless of how much experience you have or how good you are at playing the piano, your long nails are always going to interact with the keys in the wrong way and produce very noticeable sounds. The sounds are both annoying and can interfere with the song you’re playing, especially if the tune is supposed to be played softly. After all, these clicking sounds are usually quite loud; therefore, they can change the entire sound of your melodies.

They Can Cause Pain

Not all long nail problems have to do with the sound of the tunes you play. Long fingernails can also cause pain to the fingers and even to the nails themselves. Why? Because long nails can actually get caught in between the different keys sometimes and they have even been torn off in the process, which hurts a lot! Not only that, but if you’re playing loud pieces that require you to press down harder on the keys, fingernails have been known to bend and even break in the process. This extra force causes the entire finger, which includes the nail, to pound on the keys with a little more force, which can damage the nail and even hurt your hand.

Long Fingernails Can Get in the Way of Good Hand Position

Not only do long nails get in the way when you’re trying to press the keys, but they can interfere with the position your hands are supposed to be in when you play. Your fingers are supposed to be in a naturally curved position, which means that the tips of your fingers will be pressed flat across the keys. This cannot happen if you have long fingernails because those nails get in the way and prevent your hands from getting into this position. Not only is the position of your hands incorrect, but this also puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your fingers and hand, which means that you can suffer pain if this hand position continues.

And let’s face it; there is no keyboard for long nails. A keyboard is a keyboard and it is going to work much better when your nails are short. If the creators of piano playing had decided on another position for your hands, things might be a little different; however, for now, it simply works better when your nails are short. Just how short is up to you but they should never be long.

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Nails that are too long can also get in the way of the grace and ambiance you emit when you play the piano. To play with your heart in it, every aspect of your playing has to be just right and you simply can’t make that happen when your nails are too long. The piano just plays better with shorter nails; that’s all there is to it.

So the answer to the question, can you play the piano with long nails, is yes, you can. But this doesn’t that mean you should play with long nails. In fact, piano nails should always be short because it is simply quieter, is easier on the fingers and hands, and lessens the chance of something painful happening with your nails. It is always a smart choice to play the piano when your nails are shorter rather than longer. Your piano teacher will certainly appreciate it and so will your nearby audience members when you’re finally ready to play your next concert.

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