Quick Tips

Finger Power

By Jesse Preis
Finger Power

What is Finger Power? It’s the way you get ready to play your best! In this article we are going to talk about the benefits of finger power and provide examples of exercises and resources so that you can start your piano practice off right. Read on to learn more.

Building Skills with Drills

Have you ever watched a sports team practice? Think about what they do. For instance, will a basketball team spend their entire practice time playing basketball with each other? Or will they take the time to build skills they need to have when playing, like dribbling, passing, and shooting? How good would you be as a basketball player if the only time you had a chance to practice making a basket was during an actual game? You certainly wouldn’t score as often as someone who had spent hours doing nothing but putting the ball through the hoop.

As you learn any complex skill, like playing basketball or playing the piano, you need to break it down into smaller skills that you can practice and master, then use in your game. This is the purpose of drills and exercises. Doing drills and exercises may not be as fun as actually playing, but if you do them, playing is going to be a lot more fun!

Putting the Power in Your Piano Playing

Finger Power exercises, like pentascales and hand-over-hand chords build strength, agility, and coordination. Doing them every day will make a piano student more confident and comfortable at the keyboard. Several lessons in each unit teach these exercises. Once you’ve completed a Finger Power lesson, don’t just leave it behind! Use it in your daily practice. You can take any Finger Power pattern and play it in all the pentascales you know. For example, in lesson 16, I introduce hand-over-hand arpeggios with the C Major pentascale. As your piano student learns each new pentascale, they can add hand-over-hand arpeggios in this new pentascale to their daily Finger Power routine. Make Finger Power a part of piano practice every day, and your piano student will be more ready for each new song, they’ll progress faster and with more confidence, and will have a strong foundation of skills to build on as they advance in their piano studies.

What are finger exercises for piano and how can they strengthen my fingers for piano?

I highly recommend that students begin finger power by first learning how to play major and minor pentascales. You can learn more about pentascales, how to play them, and download the guide to all of the major and minor pentascales here

After getting used to pentascales, the student can progress to other exercises, such as finger skips. Finger skips continue to strengthen all of our fingers by focusing on introducing skips into a pattern of steps. 

For example, the 1-2 Finger Skip begins with your RH thumb on middle C. Next, your pointer plays by skipping over D to the E. This skip lies between fingers 1 and 2, which is where the exercise gets its name. Next, your middle finger will play F, ring finger plays G, and then your pinky plays A. Now, each finger steps back to your thumb. This means that your thumb has to move up one note on the way down so that it ends on D. And the pattern repeats after that, each time moving up one note. 

If you’re interested in learning more, all of our finger skip videos are listed below. 

After mastering all of the Finger Skip exercises, I recommend moving on to learning Hanon Exercises. To get an introduction to these exercises and begin practicing them, check out our article The Benefits of Hanon Exercises for Piano Players.

Since you’ve mastered all of the major and minor pentascales, finger skips, and have begun Hanon exercises, I think that it’s time to begin full octave scales! Check out our Major Scales Guide and Guide to Minor Scales to get started! Getting really confident with your scales through daily practice can make you a master of scales like this pianist! 

Other great finger power exercises that will help you grow as a pianist include arpeggios, chords, chord progressions, and chord inversions.

Through daily and consistent practice, making sure that you are sitting with proper posture, practicing hands separately first and then together, and practicing these exercises with a metronome, you will be strengthening both the physical and mental muscles needed to excel at finger power and the piano.

How do you train your fingers to move independently on the piano?

You will train your fingers to move independently by practicing as many of the finger power exercises as possible that we’ve mentioned above daily. Practice these hands separately first and then with both hands together. Also, practice pieces of music that challenge your finger power skills. You can practice the most challenging parts as drills, hands separately and then together. Lastly and most importantly, have patience with yourself as you build new habits. It takes time to learn and internalize these skills, so don’t give up on yourself and the process that it takes to learn them!

What are examples of finger speed exercises for piano?

Practicing the exercises above with a metronome, slowly and then speeding up, hands separately then hands together, is the best way to build up your ability to play with speed on the piano. To learn more about practicing with metronome, check out our blog article ​​Keeping Beat at the Piano and this video:

How do you exercise your fingers for piano without a piano?

You might think that it’s impossible to practice piano finger power without a piano, but think again. Whenever we type on a traditional computer keyboard, we are practicing the same skills as when we play piano. But there are other exercises that we can use too!

All you need for this exercise is a flat surface like a table or a desk, a piece of paper, and a pencil. 

  • Now, let’s create a few patterns. Use your paper and pencil to write the five finger numbers down in random order, such as 1 5 3 2 4 or 3 5 4 1 2.
  • Play that pattern on the flat surface with each hand. Start with your dominant hand and then switch to the other hand. Lastly, try doing it with both hands together!
  • You can use a metronome to help you keep the beat steady and to speed up the beat! 

Now that you’ve learned about different finger power exercises, tips on how to practice them, and learned about references that can help your practice you’re ready to get to work! Training your fingers to be independent, strong, and quick takes time and dedication, so have fun and remember to be patient as you practice.

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