The short answer to this is a resounding “yes.” There are no strict rules in place that require someone to cut their nails very short in order to play. But there are some differences that exist when pianos are used by people with varying nail lengths.
One reason that this comes up often is simple: Female musicians tend to balk when asked to clip their nails. The reality is that ANY player who has nails that are growing at a rapid rate will be asked to clip them, but males tend to do so without any reservations.
This is not a way to throw jabs at females; it is what I have noticed in all of my years being around people who play the piano. It may be different in your experience, but this is what I have observed.
This seems like it should be obvious, but there are some who do not realize this. Having longer nails is a nuisance because people can hear the clicking when you are playing the piano. How can you expect someone to sit back and enjoy any piece you are performing if they are forced to deal with the repetitive sound of your fingernails tapping on the keys?
You should also take note of the fact that fingernails can cause your fingers to move more sloppily across the keys. This means that your overall quality may be affected. Those who are planning to perform should certainly see this as a solid reason to do some trimming.
If you are practicing alone, feel free to let your nails get as long as you wish; you will get used to the clicks. Just make sure that you trim them before you decide to play for others.
The shape of your nail makes a difference when it comes to figuring out the best length, particularly since everyone who plays doesn’t hold their hands in the same position.
If you are used to playing with a very short length, letting your nails grow out means that you may have to play in a way that you are not really familiar with. Therefore, it is not likely you will be at your very best.
Yes… Or No?
When it comes down to it, you are not likely to find many who have no problem listening to the sound of nails hitting the keys on a piano, but they exist. There are some piano players who do very well, despite the fact that their nails are longer than most would advise.
Unfortunately, there is no way for your fingers to become one with the keys if there is a fingernail in the way. With that said, trying to force someone else to clip their nails is problematic, especially since questions of gender and individuality may come into play.
So, the answer is affirmative when it comes to nail length having an effect on piano playing. Even so, it is more a matter of personal preference than anything, so this is not a hard definite for everyone.
Do you play piano with long nails? Share your advice and tips in the comments below!
Hello! My Name is Scott and I am the Piano Dad! I started taking piano lessons as an adult to spend time with my 8 year old daughter and love every minute of it. I created this site to help other pianists learn more about playing piano as an adult. Hope you enjoy and learn a little something!