Make Piano Fingering Logical

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If you make piano fingering logical, kids accept it and use it if they can.

The issue that kids have with fingering is that it just one more conceptual burden put on their brains to play a simple song. It may be logical to you, but they see no point to it until they want to play fast.

At first, the only logic a child sees to fingering is their index finger. It is strong, long and the finger they use for a lot of things.

Kids aren’t even really aware they have five fingers, in terms of the piano, and have to be introduced to their “basketball team,” as I call the group of five fingers. It’s like they’ve never seen them as a group before.

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THE FIRST LOGIC

The first thing I suggest is that they use two index fingers instead of just one. This is easy for them to do, even if they are not ambidextrous.

The cleverness of this move, from a piano teacher’s point of view, is that using two index fingers involves both hemispheres of the brain, whether the child knows it or not.

You’re getting their brain to talk internally without them knowing it, or feeling that it is difficult.

THE NEXT LOGIC

Point out that they have fingers right next to the index finger. The third finger. Why not use that?

Get ready for them to walk up the piano white keys with their second and third fingers, like a pair of legs. Imagination!

THE WEAK LINK

The fourth and fifth fingers are practically useless, at first, and many kids keeped them tucked under the hand instinctively. You can try to uncurl them. They won’t until they are ready.

TOWARDS A WHOLE HAND

Now introduce the thumb, a very strange finger to a kid.

It is half as long, twice as thick, and start halfway down the hand, unlike every other finger. Kids shun the thumb, but must be taught to lead their “basketball team” with it. The thumb is the captain of the hand.

The problem with thumb is that it is so short that it forces the hand to be at a rather uncomfortable angle when used with the other fingers. Kids find this strange.

A GAME FOR THE WHOLE HAND

The first three fingers are the strongest, thumb, index and third.

Thus it is logical you would have the most success in showing the child how to use the hand as a unit if you use the strongest fingers.

So I number the keys and let the kid loose.

THREESIES, A FINGER GAME

Numbered Keyboard
Numbered Keyboard

Play 123,234,345,456,567,678,789, etc. with the thumb, index and third fingers. You have to repeat this over and over, inventing reasons why it must be repeated.

What it is teaching the child is that the fingers go in a row, one after the other, and we don’t skip fingers.

The last step, of course, is to try to use all five fingers, and you may have some success with it. But the fourth and fifth fingers will remain weak to the point of unusability for a long time.

Get the child to use the first three fingers as a group.

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