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If you want to get faster at playing scales and runs – this is the lesson for you!

What usually happens is the thumb tuck slows us down. It takes time to get the thumb underneath and reset the hand.

So I have an exercise you can practice to get much more comfortable with the thumb tuck, which will allow you to play much faster.

The Thumb Tuck Scale

Play the C major scale using ONLY your thumb and index finger. So you’ll have to be tucking your thumb under constantly to move up the scale.

Easy right?

Making it harder

Now, play the same scale but using your thumb and 3 finger (middle finger).

This is more challenging, and you might find your elbow will want to fly out away from your body, like a wing. Try to avoid this, and keep your elbow stable and close to your body.

Start slow and work on building up your speed, while maintaining control.

Once you’ve done that, use your thumb and 4 finger.

Adding in sharps

Once it’s easy in the key of C major, it’s time to start adding in some black keys.

This exercise will feel really awkward — and it’s supposed to be. Tucking your thumb under to play a black key is not something you’ll ever really have to do in a real piece of music. But it will help you get comfortable tucking your thumb under your fingers.

If you can do this, then playing a ‘normal’ scale will be super easy.

Don’t neglect the left hand

Don’t leave your left hand behind. Make sure to practice these exercises with BOTH hands. I have a lot of students who complain that their left hand is not as good as their right, but they don’t practice both equally.


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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