Piano Technique: Prepared & Unprepared Attack

The word attack is way too harsh and forceful, literally and figuratively, to describe what your body does to get a key to go down. But "attack" is so widely used in piano circles that using another word might cause confusion, so it will have to do for now.

A prepared attack means that your fingertip is already touching the key surface when you decide to push the key down.

An unprepared attack means that your fingertip is above the key surface when you decide to push the key down.

Each attack has its advantages and disadvantages:

That said, a prepared attack is usually preferred, but an unprepared attack may be appropriate in some situations (specifically for large skips at fast tempos). It depends on the musical situation and may arguably be a matter of personal preference and style. Whichever one you choose in a given situation, be aware of the dangers, try to minimize them, and let your coordinated motions fit the flow of the music.