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As a progressing piano player, sometimes it will feel as though your hands aren’t on the same skill levels. You might find yourself asking, “Why is my left-hand coordination lacking??” 🤔🤔🤔

It’s quite simple, actually! When we’re playing songs, the right hand is in charge of the melody, leaving your left hand to plod along and play back-up. It just doesn’t get the same amount of attention when we’re playing.

Don’t worry! I’ve got some ‘handy’ tips and a smart practice routine to ‘de-stupefy’ your left-hand’s coordination.

In the exercise, we’ll work on improving:

    • Speed
    • Accuracy
    • Dexterity
    • Coordination
    • Rhythm

It’s time to get both sides in harmony. 🎼🎶

Finger Lifts

You don’t even need a piano for this one– and it’s smart to practice whenever you find you have a moment to breathe and a comfortable surface to tap on.

Gently rest your hand on a surface and take turns lifting and pressing each finger down from thumb (finger 1) to pinky (finger 5) and back.

You might notice it’s especially difficult to raise your ring finger (finger 4) independently from the rest. The 4 and 5 fingers are connected differently than your 1-3 and have less mobility, but this will ease up and become more natural with time and practice.

As you lift and press, not only are you building dexterity in each finger, but you’re working on strengthening them, and you’re improving the connection from your fingers to your brain. 🧠

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: If you find you are spending some time away from the keys, check out our lesson on ‘practicing piano without a piano’

Octave Scales

What about ways to practice on the actual keyboard?

The octave scale is a smart routine that will target all of the areas you might struggle with your left-hand coordination. It might sound intimidating, but even if you have smaller hands you can do this!

We’ll be working with a ‘C scale’ (Just the white keys! 🙏🙏🙏) to keep things simple for beginners.

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: Watch how I target each note that I am about to play with my ‘5 finger’. As you move your hand across the keyboard to span the octave, always be thinking about where you want to be playing next.

As always, start slow and bring your speed up gradually– even as a well-practiced player this can challenge your accuracy. It requires a lot of focus to play consistently and comfortably.

Be very mindful to play with proper technique– you don’t want your fingers to tense up! Keep your wrist elevated and relaxed.

Here’s where things start to get a little more complex:

Left Hand Octave Scales With Right Hand Scales

We’ll play the notes of the ‘C scale’ in our right hand as we play the octaves in our left.

For this exercise, we always play the same note with our left hand as we do with our right.

Notice that my left hand is playing ‘Staccato’, which means to come right off the keys before playing the next note, and my right hand is playing ‘Legato’, which means to play smoothly from one note to the next. Getting your hands to play in those different styles simultaneously will be an added challenge.

💁‍♀️🍯 Lisa Says: Imagine Legato like playing with honey on the keys, your fingers sticking to the notes, each one flowing into the next.

Switch It Up!

Too easy for you? Now it’s time to switch the roles of each hand! 🔀

Octaves with your right, single notes with your left! 🤯🤯🤯

It seems like a simple concept, but it might take a minute for your brain to come to terms with this change. Slow and steady to start!

🔥🎹 Hot Tip: Use a metronome to ensure you are working on your timing as well! The metronome is a great tool to measure your progress as you work your speed up, and there are interesting ways to incorporate it into your practice!

Try Different Keys

When practicing this exercise I would highly recommend trying out different key signatures— pick any of your favorite scales and apply this routine. This will better familiarize you with the full range of keys on the keyboard, and challenge you to think a little bit harder about what you’re playing.

Do Everyday Tasks With Your Left Hand!

If you are right-handed, this will be especially useful! Choosing to use your left hand over your right for run-of-the-mill tasks like opening the door, or brushing your teeth will further reinforce the connections you use when you are learning to play an instrument and, perhaps, ‘de-stupefy’ it a little bit!

***

All of this combined will help you to have much smarter left-hand coordination, and when you go to play songs you’ll perform with more confidence, you’ll be in much better control, and you’ll have more fun at the piano!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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