The piano is often revered as one of the most learnable instruments in the music world. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without challenges.
Learning to play the piano can be frustrating at first, but with hard work and discipline, anyone can learn to play. Aside from creating beautiful music, there are many benefits of learning to play the piano.
A recent Canadian study shows that student’s IQs who learned to play the piano rose 3 points more than the students who didn’t. Whether you want to fill your home with music or just learn a new skill, there are certain piano exercises you need to know and master to help you along your way.
Table of Contents
1. 5 Note Pentascales
Using one finger at a time, play down a scale and listen to each note. This is a great exercise for students who don’t have strong finger muscles. You can also change dynamic ranges using only their fingers rather than their whole hand.
Try alternating hands through this scale, and then ascend through a whole octave. When the pattern is reversed as you descend back down, you’ll arrive back to your starting point. This will help your left hand become as skilled as your right.
Strengthing your hands with a firm position can make all the difference in the sound you’ll produce as you play.
2. Firm Finger Fun
Put your hands at playing level but not on the keys. Bend the knuckle closest to the finger-tip like it was playing a note. While your finger stays in that same position, lift your hand, and then let it hit the key. If your knuckle doesn’t hold, try it one more time but from a lower height.
Piano exercises like this one will get you ready for what it will feel like when you play with a firm finger position. It helps you experience how it should feel without adding any extra weight or pressure from your arms or hands.
By placing your hands or arms on the keys, you will be able to practice holding a solid finger position with more ease.
3. Legato vs. Staccato Piano Exercises
Let’s start with legato. When practicing this style there shouldn’t be silence when you move from one note to the next. Start with each hand playing legato separately through a scale. For the next step, start playing both hands in legato at the same time.
Next, start playing both hands in legato at the same time. After you feel comfortable with both hands in legato on these piano exercises, switch to staccato. With the staccato version, the notes should be played in a short and detached manner.
Transition to playing staccato with both hands, and then try mixing the staccato and legato together. Play legato with one hand and staccato with the other. Alternate which hand plays which.
4. Two and Three Note Phrases
Now that you know how legato should be played, there is another aspect to it. There are accents in legato pieces. The value of these accents will always be different. They will annotate in your music.
Practice the sharp accents and the fading accents with each hand. Use your wrist to help you accentuate the notes and values. When your wrist is lowered, it will assist the sharper accents. When it’s a slow fade you should raise your wrist for a softer tone.
5. Hanon Exercises
These books are available for purchase and offer many wonderful piano exercises. These books will speed the learning process along and will help you learn to play with expertise and style.
6. Play In Thirds
Once you have mastered your pentacles, you can start to learn to play in thirds Playing in thirds means you skip a note between each note. Try doing these piano exercises in legato and staccato as well.
7. Full Octave Scales
As you transition up and down the keys, preparing your thumb for what’s next is very helpful for piano playing. If you are playing a C major scale, after you play the D with your right pointer, be sure the thumb is ready to continue on near the F note.
This exercise is one you can practice well into your years as a pianist. It will help smooth out your playing, help you play with speed and improve your accuracy.
8. Two Notes, One Hand
Train two fingers to play at the same time on the same hand. Start with your left index finger and your left thumb while the other fingers don’t play. This will train your fingers not to play when they aren’t needed.
The pinky finger can often be problematic when playing the piano. It can sneakily jump in and play notes you don’t want it to. Start training your fingers to relax when they are being used.
9. Chord Tone
Playing with different weight and length is what gives any piece style. Piano exercises regarding tone will help you play with round, gorgeous tones. The tone is what will set you apart as a pianist. Practice playing chords in different ways and listen to how it sounds.
When an audience hears a pianist with tone proficiency, their ear tells their mind that they like what they are hearing. People who can play with beautiful tones are often regarded as those with the best style.
10. Dead Weight
Using your opposite hand, hold your wrist up. Then, let the arm that is being held go limp so the opposite arm is holding all of its weight. Use the opposite arm to lift the arm a little, and then let it fall (gently) down onto the keys.
Piano exercises like these will help your arms stop tensing up every time it is used to play. It’s a normal reaction when in use, but the key is to let the arms and hands feel completely weightless and free.
Consistency is Key
The most important thing someone with a desire to play the piano can do is to be consistent. Every single day, practice some of these great piano exercises. Muster up all the discipline you can to stay on top of your practice.
With hard work, great exercises and some relaxation, you’ll be on your way to starring in your own personal piano concerts. Contact us if you’re ready to learn more about how to learn to play with style.