LESSON 7 Five Woodpeckers

What you'll learn

How to play Five Woodpeckers using either the right hand, left hand, or both


Woodpecker: Tap! Tap!
Woodpecker: Tap! Tap!
Woodpecker: Tap! Tap!
Woodpecker: Tap! Tap!
Woodpecker: Tap! Tap!
Looking for a bug. Yum!

Casio Privia

Mr. Hoffman's Top Pick for Digital Piano: Casio Privia PX-150

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148 Responses

    • Don’t worry – it’s perfectly normal to find this difficult a first. Playing with curved fingers takes practice. Usually, the best thing you can do is to remind yourself to relax your hands. Try this activity and see if it helps: Stand up and just shake out your arms, with floppy wrists, hands, and fingers. Then stop shaking and simply let your arms and hands dangle down by your side. With hands and arms completely relaxed, glance down at the natural shape of your hand. You should see that your fingers in a “neutral” position – a gentle, natural curve in your fingers. This relaxed, neutral shape is what you always want to come back to as you play. I would also recommend reviewing our blog post on Tips for Keeping Fingers Relaxed at the Keyboard. I hope that helps. Good luck and happy playing!

    • It’s a fun piece, isn’t it? It’s pretty challenging, though, so it will take a great deal of diligent practice to get to that point. If you want to see a video of the composer, Jon Schmidt, playing the whole piece, you can watch it here. Enjoy!

    • Ah, I’m glad you’re finding it simple for now. Be patient, however, and I’m sure you’ll find later lessons more challenging. Good luck and happy playing!

  1. Hi I like all the lesson , but you do not reply and I’m sad. Can you reply this time because I want to talk to you. You are a good teacher.????????

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying our lessons! I’m sorry if you left a question I didn’t reply to. Can I help you with something?

  2. Mr. Hoffman,
    thank you for putting all of these great lessons on your website. Do you have any advise for me about keep my fingers curved I can never seem to keep them curved.

    • When fingers won’t stay curved, the culprit is usually tension. Try stepping away from the piano for a minute and find a hard surface like a table or your piano bench. Rest your fingers on the surface in a relaxed, curved position. Try gently lifting each finger one at a time while keeping your other fingers and wrist relaxed and still. Also, try applying gentle pressure to the surface one finger at a time – there should be basically no movement in your hand, but you’ll feel your muscles working as each finger presses down. These may seem like little things, but it’s a great way to focus on developing correct finger posture and to develop your muscles. I’d also recommend you review our blog post about Keeping Fingers Relaxed at the Keyboard. I hope that helps!

    • Learning a new skill like playing the piano can definitely be a challenge. Hang in there, though. The rewards are definitely worth it! Do you have any particular questions? You’re welcome to ask them here or email our team at Support@HoffmanAcademy.com and we’ll do our best to help you work through the tough stuff. Good luck and happy playing!

  3. I’m a grandmother. I am reviewing your lessons, getting ready to teach my 5 year old daughter. I love your technique of teaching in very simple steps. You are awesome!

    My question is, is it important to teach the Solfege Scale or can we get by with the Musical Alphabet. If not, at what point is that important?

    Thank you.

    • That’s wonderful! I’m so glad our lessons are working for you. I do feel that it’s important to use both Solfege and the musical alphabet, even for beginning students. This is because the tones that correspond to the letter names of each note are fixed, while my method uses Movable Do Solfege to teach relationships between notes, like intervals and transposing.

      For instance, if you learned Five Woodpeckers in the C major pentascale, the notes’ letter names would be C D E F G and the Solfege would be Do Re Mi Fa So. However, if you wanted to transpose the song to the G major pentascale, the Solfege stays the same (because Do is always the “tonic” of the pentascale or key signature), but the notes’ letter names would be G A B C D. This is an effective representation of what our ears hear: the melody is the same, but it’s being played with different notes. I hope that makes sense. If you’d like to know more about Solfege and how it is used in the Hoffman Method, check out our blog post, “What is Solfege?” Good luck and happy playing!

  4. Mr Hoffman, I am a ten year old in Plano, TX, and I’m still a beginner on the piano, and I can never seem to have my fingers curved. They’re always so straight! Do you have any advice for me?

    • It’s wonderful that you’re paying attention to your piano posture! It may take a little time to become comfortable with curved fingers, but the most helpful thing I have found is to remind myself to relax. We often get so worried about posture that it creates tension in our hands and fingers, causing them to straighten and stick out when they shouldn’t. Posture is important, but worry and tension aren’t helpful. Try the “floppy spaghetti arms” we did in the lesson, or try squeezing your hand into a fist for a few seconds and then releasing it. When you release (or stop spaghetti-ing your arms), let them rest naturally and you should find that relaxed, curved finger shape we’re looking for.

      Another tactic is to try playing with the tips of your fingers (rather than the flat pads of your fingers where your fingerprints are). There’s a danger of tension and over-extension in this, so it’s not your long-term goal, but it can be a good reminder to your fingers about how it feels to stay curved.

      I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing.

  5. I am an 8 year old who lives in Florida. I enjoy your videos so much. I’m having trouble putting each finger down per note. Do you have any advice for me?

    • I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying my piano lessons! As for your question – could you explain a little more what you mean? Is it hard for your five fingers to rest comfortably on five adjacent white keys at the same time, or is it hard to press down one individual note at a time because your fingers want to move together? If it’s the first one, that’s ok – It will become easier as your fingers grow, and the more you practice the more they will be stretched and strengthened.

      If it’s the latter, then I would recommend spending some time every day on finger independence. All this requires is a hard surface – your piano lid, a table, etc. With good piano posture in your hands (staying curved and relaxed), rest your five fingers on the hard surface and then, one at a time, gently press each fingertip onto the surface. Try to consciously relax your other fingers. You can do this at the dinner table or on your school desk, or even against a hard book you’re holding while you wait in line somewhere. It’s a little thing, but if you do it every day it will really help your fingers learn to move on their own and strengthen your muscles and control. You can also place your hand in the same way, but instead of pressing one finger at a time, try lifting one finger at a time just a little bit, keeping the others relaxed and still.

      If neither of those really answers your question, please feel free to write back and I’ll be happy to advise you. I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing. – Mr. Hoffman

  6. Hi Mr Hoffman
    I’m really enjoying the lessons and you’re quite good at explaining. I’m in year 4 in New Zealand
    Thank you

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying my lessons! I’m very happy to be your piano teacher, even though we live so far apart. Good luck and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

  7. hi mr.hoffman
    my name is zack and i live in austin this year im in grade 4. thanks for the lessons
    my favorite part is when u do finger puppets : )

  8. Where do you get those pupets? Also I don’t agree with the last 3 comments-I like bugs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Mr. Hoffman you are such a good teacher and that thing you put at the end of lesson 7 was really different then other piano teachers then I have ever had, and I have had about 35 of them so you are pretty awesome and I really like how you teach us fantastic piano. That make me feel glad we found you online but my dad says it is cheaper and really I think I have lots of fun with you. I never download the stuff I remember because they way you put us into learning it makes us fill our age, well at least me!

  10. I’m 8 and my parents say that I should spend 10 to15 minutes on the piano each day(new lessons,old lessons,practicing). I wanted to see what you thought about this opinion.

    • I’d say that’s a good plan. I generally prefer using a Practice Checklist rather than a set amount of practice time, but for a beginning student your age, I’d aim to prepare a list that could be accomplished daily in 10-15 minutes. As you progress in your lessons, your practice checklist will begin to grow and the time you spend at the piano will increase. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  11. Dear Mr. Hoffman,
    How many Lessons do you recommend per day/per week? I did Lessons 1-7 in two days, so do you have a recommendation or just go at your own pace?
    Thank You so much for your free lessons!

    • I do offer some general recommendations: If you’re a beginner, you should probably aim to complete 2-3 new lessons per week. If you fly through several lessons in a few days, it’s difficult to actually master the concepts in them and properly train your finger muscles. If you press on without mastering more basic concepts first, it’s likely you’ll hit a road block at some point where the lessons suddenly feel extra hard and you can’t seem to progress. On the other hand, going too slowly can put a damper on your enthusiasm, so if the lessons are coming easy, it’s ok to pick up the pace a bit. Another situation where it’s ok to move through the lessons more quickly is if you are already familiar with music theory or piano from previous lessons – then the early lessons are a great review, but you won’t need to spend as much time on them. So, the key is to challenge yourself while still taking time to practice and perfect each lesson and song. You can read more on this subject on our website: When to Move On to the Next Lesson. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  12. Mr. Hoffman I tried something new I did two sets of the keys t the same time it makes a beautiful sound thanks for teaching Haydn

  13. HI Mr Hoffman,

    when I bend my wrist, I end up pressing the other keys also, and I struggle when I come to my fifth finger. How do I stop this from happening? also how do I exercise my fingers so they become stronger as iIstruggle especially with my fifth finger, when I press a key its very soft.

    Thank you in advance for your answer.

  14. Hi Mr. Joseph! I love how you make the lessons easy to learn!
    I also love the silly but educational puppets at the end

    Love & Peace ,


      • Hi, if some of these songs are easy for me can I skip them?
        I used to take lessons with a lady at my old house but now I live somewhere else out of town so I take your lessons.
        I have a Theory book she gave me and some other piano books.

  15. Hi Mr.Hoffman! I love your lessons very much, all I have is one question when we play 5 woodpeckers, and we get to the letter F where our ring finger is, When I press the key all of my other fingers go down on the piano too. How do I stop this? I’ll be waiting for your reply!

    a student that loves you, Kitta

  16. Mr. Hoffman, we LOVE your lessons. We also LOVE the song that you play at the start of each lesson. We’d like to find the entire song. Is there a place we can hear the entire intro song? Or could you post the title of it? You play it so beautifully.

  17. dear Mr. Hoffman:I like your lessons and all but my piano can’t play this song because at the middle of the video it suddenly stops and goes to the end . with that i can’t learn to play piano can I? it stops at
    when your showing us your hand. Is with that all you need to learn? Can I pass to the next lesson? and also it get a little slow, so what you are saying is going faster than what you are doing! but I think that’s internet problems. Please answer back!
    Sincerely Tamara

  18. Mr. Hoffman,
    I enjoy your piano lessons very much. I’m so happy that I can play 5 woodpeckers with two hands! It made my day. Thank you so much for all that you do. :)

  19. My daughter is loving your lessons. She knows how to play 5 woodpeckers with both hands already! :-). She did it even before you asked her to in the lesson.

  20. My 5 year old twins are enjoying learning to play with these lessons… they look forward to what silly thing Mr. Hoffman will add to the end of the lesson after the credits!

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