May 13, 2011

Long Or Short Nails?

I do not regularly post questions for discussion, like some do. I really enjoy those discussions and fresh ideas to think about. I decided to post a random question for discussion, however. Because I'm a random kind of person. :)

My question is about fingernails and the piano. I know that some teachers insist on very short fingernails on all their students.

While others do not view it as such a serious detail.

I do think that the length of the fingernails affects playing. Long fingernails get in the way of playing with our fingertips. So how short is "short?"

I always have trouble finding the right balance with my own fingernails. They grow faster than weeds, and the nail bed is long, so it is hard to keep them "short." As a child I bit my nails, so they are misshapen as well, to add to the mess. Fun. If I had a camera right now I would take a picture of them for you, but thankfully for you, I don't. :)

So what about you? Do you ask for your students to keep their nails short? How do you enforce that aspect of your policies? How long does a nail have to be to interfere with proper playing?

*Note: none of the above pictures are my own. I just googled "fingernails" and that is what good 'ol google gave me. Boom.*


  1. I have it in my policy that nails should be trimmed short. However,I've never had to ask a student to do it- they seem to realize on their own. I think anyone who plays at least semi-often will come to the conclusion that they play better with clipped nails.
    I keep mine trimmed so there is barely any white showing- that is my own preference in how short to cut them, but considering I play on 3-4 different pianos every week(and they all have a different touch) it works best to keep the ol' nails gone. maybe less lady-like, but oh-so-practical.
    I have heard in my lifetime people try to play piano AND ORGAN (yikes!) with long nails. click/clack-click-click....ewwww! :)

  2. I grew up having a teacher who was really strict about this, and since I wasn't always the most compliant child we butted heads about this issue a LOT. I didn't like having to keep my nails short when all my friends could have theirs long.

    But once I started getting serious about music I realized that my teacher had been right! Nowadays I probably trim my nails at least once a week. Once they get beyond the point where the white is just showing they really start to bother me and I can't play without noticing that they're getting 'too long'.

    In my studio, as I mostly teach younger students, I don't stress the short nails too much. And, fortunately for me, most of my older students keep them trimmed without needing little reminders from me. I don't have anything in my policy regarding nail length since I haven't yet felt that it needed addressing, but I may add it in one day if i find it becoming a problem.