Hand Independence in 5 Days

Lisa Witt  /  Hand Independence  /  UPDATED Jan 13, 2023

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Hand independence can be one of the most frustrating things for beginner and experienced pianists alike. This lesson is a step-by-step, day-by-day approach to attain solid hand independence in five days. So, stretch those hands, prepare to be challenged, and let’s dive in!

Day 1: Waltz With Two Hands

We’ll start off easy on our first day 🙂

On our left hand, we’ll play a waltz rhythm on four chords: C-G-Am-F. (You might recognize this as the classic 1-5-6-4 progression.)

On our right hand, we’ll play the outer “shell” of these chords. In other words, a fifth.

Start slow at first, then gradually build up speed. You want to be comfortable enough to play and have a conversation at the same time. (Harder than it sounds!)

Day 2: Waltz With Five-Finger Scale

I find that when you’re learning something new, sleeping on it does wonders. So, get a good night’s sleep and then get ready to tackle Day 2.

Today, we’ll add a five-finger scale to our right hand that complements each chord. The scale will be four eighth notes followed by a quarter note. You can count 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + to keep yourself on track.

This exercise will get you used to playing with a different rhythm in each hand.

Day 3: Role Switch

Day 3 is when things start to get tricky!

Today, we’ll switch the roles of our hands. This means, our right hand will play the waltz rhythm while our left hand plays the chord shell.

Remember: if you mess up and things feel difficult, this means you’re learning!

Day 4: More Complexity

Now let’s take things to next level. Day 4 will be playing the waltz rhythm on your right hand and the eighth note pattern on your left.

It should be a lot harder to talk and play at the same time by now!

Do take some time practicing this step, because our final day is going to be even harder…

Day 5: Interchanging Roles

Alright, buckle up, because things are about to get crazy!

Today, we’re going to rotate between hands, like this:

  1. Left hand waltz pattern + right hand chord shells
  2. Right hand waltz pattern + left hand chord shells
  3. Right hand eighth notes + left hand waltz pattern
  4. Left hand eighth notes + right hand waltz pattern

See if you can switch hands without missing a beat. THAT’s the key to successful hand independence!

If your brain feels sore…you’re on the right track!

Adding Pizzazz

If you’ve mastered this exercise and want to challenge yourself even more, here are a few ideas:

  • Play one hand staccato and one hand legato
  • Play one hand loud, the other hand soft
  • …then switch it up!

Remember: have a sense of humor and be kind to yourself. Hand independence takes TIME.

And if you want more hand independence practice, check out our other technique lessons here.

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for more than 20 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. Learn more about Lisa.

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