Nothing beats practice when it comes to mastering the piano. There are a few ways you can improve your performance away from the keyboard though.
Even the most gifted players have to work at their art and have their little secrets when it comes to keeping their fingers fighting fit and ready to play perfection.
Classical pianist and guru of piano teaching, Charles Louis Hanon, recommended that all aspiring pianists practice scales daily to improve finger strength and dexterity. His book, The Virtuoso Pianist has remained a major source of inspiration for piano lessons since 1873, so we can assume that there is some truth in that.
What if you don’t have access to a piano every day? You can still keep those digits fighting fit with piano finger exercises.
Here are 7 workout tips for your fingers that you can do whenever your hands are free.
Why Should I do Piano Finger Exercises?
Anyone who has played one of the longer pieces on the piano will know that your fingers can become really tired and even start cramping after a while. Just like any other part of your body, your hands need to become accustomed to this exercise.
By overstraining your hands, you may cause injury, which could send you right back to square one in your mastery of this complex instrument.
Only playing during your lessons, or your spare time is not enough to keep your fingers fighting fit. Serious pianists should exercise their hands every day by practicing piano finger exercises. This will ensure that you are always able to perform at your best.
Let’s Warm Up
Another aspect that no one thinks about is stretching before starting a piano-playing session. Here’s an easy way to warm up your hands before you hit those keys.
- Close your fingers into tight fists
- Hold for 3 seconds
- Repeat several times until your fingers feel limbered up and ready for action
Next, flex each finger independently and finally, rub your hands together to get them nice and toasty.
Now for the Good Stuff
You should try to give your hands a workout at least 3 times a week, but as long as you increase the exertion levels slowly, you can do these piano finger exercises whenever you have a free moment.
TV time is a great opportunity for a finger workout.
1. Fist Flexes
These are the big brother of the stretching exercises. This time, form your hands into loose fists with all your fingers wrapped around your thumb. Hold for 30 seconds and then stretch your fingers out straight. Repeat 10 times.
2. Stress Ball Squeeze
Squeezing a stress ball is one of the best-known piano finger exercises.
This type of exercise a wonderful tension reliever, hence the name, and is also great for strengthening the muscles in your hands. If you don’t have a stress ball, a tennis ball will do.
Squeeze the ball as tight as you can and hold for 30 seconds – it’s more tiring than it sounds! Release and rest for 15 seconds.
Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions.
3. Give your fingers a lift
Place your hand palm down on a table or other flat surface. Starting with your index finger, lift each finger in turn as high as it will go.
Hold it there for 5 seconds and then put it back down. The trick to this move is keeping your palm and your other fingers down flat at the same time.
Move on to each finger in turn and then onto the next hand. When you have completed all the fingers on both hands, you can tick off one repetition. Repeat the exercise, reversing the order of your fingers each time, for 10 repetitions.
A variation of this exercise is to try to lift your fingers in sequence as fast as you can, one after the other or to lift all your fingers at once.
Not only will this exercise strengthen your fingers, but it will give your dexterity a boost too.
4. Thumb Touch
Bend your thumb and forefinger until the tips meet to create an ‘O’ shape, forming the ‘Ok’ sign. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for each finger.
Continue until each finger on both hands has done 5 to 10 repetitions.
5. Thumb Curve
Hold your hand palm up. Stretch your fingers out and bend your thumb inwards so that it meets the base of your pinkie finger. Press as hard as you can, release and repeat, touching the bottom of each finger in turn.
This exercise can cause cramping, so start off gently at first. If you experience any pain, back off on the pressure a bit. You can look forward to improved strength and flexibility if you stick it out.
6. Tap and Push
This is another great one for flexibility and strength. Put your hand together with your fingertips touching and your palms together – as if you were praying.
Tap the tips of your thumbs together twice. Push your right thumb forward to the right, using your left thumb and vice versa. Do the same with all your other fingers and repeat the whole process 6 to 10 times.
7. Fingertip Press
A simpler variation of the above involves starting off in the same posture of prayer and then moving your palms apart, bending your fingers. Imagine you are holding an invisible ball between them.
Move your fingertips upwards by pressing them together. Increase the pressure until your fingers eventually straighten.
Other Things you can do
Besides piano finger exercises, it pays to keep your mind playing fit when you are not on your keyboard.
Choose a piece you are learning and sing or hum it, memorize it, and practice any tricky rhythms. Sometimes it’s your mind holding you back from success and not your fingers.
Use our quick and easy exercises to take the pain out of playing and you will see improvement in no time at all.