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The Most Effective Way to Make Your Fingers Play Evenly

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By Eulsun Kim 2 years ago 3808 Views 2 comments

There must be many ways you have heard of in this world to improve your piano technique. Among the many ways I know of, there is only one which is closely connected to the physiology of playing the piano. It is the best way and most effective way to make your fingers work efficiently.

You could ask me how I can be so sure about this. It is because I have been doing many piano technique workshops, and I have a piano technique blog with thousands of members and hundreds of positive testimonials. Even without all of that I can still convince you because my own technique has dramatically improved during the last fourteen years since I first established Tersun Piano Technique.

When you are trying to develop your piano technique and if you don't know which of your fingers is weak or slow to respond, you cannot make your playing any better. No matter how many hours you practice without knowing this, those fingers will remain slow, unresponsive, and hard to control.

For example, the thumb causes the most tension. The second finger is lazy, the third finger is weak and slow, believe it or not. The fourth finger is obviously weak and it is not easy to develop its strength. The fifth finger is weak and can also develop tension. So to train all of your five fingers to play evenly, you have to acknowledge the characteristics of each individual finger.

Here is what you need to think about before trying out what I am going to suggest. Even though you understand the different characteristics of the five fingers, you still need to watch them closely to see how they are working and if they are playing evenly. When playing music we go from one note to the next, so it is very useful to start with two notes at a time. Start with the thumb and second finger. You may feel your thumb has tension and the second finger is slower than you thought.

If you practice two-finger exercises with simple, repeated patterns, you can truly concentrate on what your fingers are doing. This is the only way for you to discover what you have been doing wrong. So let's get to the point now. I will show you the best way to fix your old bad habits.

You should begin with two-note patterns with the ten fingering combinations. Two fingers at a time is like walking with the whole body weight shifting left, right, left, right. Now you can imagine your two fingers are walking on the keys just like you walk with your two legs. When you are walking you can easily feel the two legs are evenly balanced, step by step. Playing the piano with two fingers should also be balanced. Then it is like shifting the whole weight of the arm into the fingers left to right, and at that time you can easily feel which fingers did not go to the bottom of the key bed or did not release quickly enough.

Here are the ten fingering combinations where you can imagine two fingers are walking. This is the most effective way to control your fingers to play evenly.

In this example the two fingers play CDCD, hands together two octaves apart. These exercises are to be found at the beginning of Chapter 1 of Intermediate Level Finger Exercises, Vol. I.
R. H. 1212, 2323, 3434, 4545, 1313, 2424, 3535, 1414, 2525, 1515
L. H. 2121, 3232, 4343, 5454, 3131, 4242, 5353, 4141, 5252, 5151

When you are practicing these two-finger patterns you will clearly find out which of your fingers is heavy and slow to move. It will give you a sense of motivation to fix your old problems.

As soon as you make your fingers walk on the keyboard, you will discover a new world. Your talent will come out and you will see how much potential is inside of you waiting for this moment. Then you cannot stop practicing these exercises because you know you are making a bigger improvement than you ever had before every time you practice. If you have passion to improve your piano playing this is the best path for you.

Rick 2 years ago at 10:22 AM
Are you recommending playing all of the combinations of two notes in Exercise 1 (1212, 2323, etc.) before moving on to exercise #2?

What speed would you suggest starting at (e.g., 60 beats per minute with four notes to the beat)?

Note: I've found it helpful to play each hand separately for greater awareness of tension.
Eulsun Kim 2 years ago at 10:30 AM
Hello Rick,

It seems you understand how these exercises work. Playing each hand separately will help you to find out if you have tension.

When you are playing with your right hand, you can touch it with your left hand. In the blog Pictures of Hands on the Keyboard you will find a detailed explanation about where to look for tension in the fingers, hands, and arms.

Tempo should not be a consideration right now. The most important thing is to depress each key to the bottom of the key bed with the same speed, strength, and length. Relax your arm, hand, and fingers before depressing the key, and after depressing the key release your arm muscles as quickly as possible. With the arm touch the speed of depressing the keys should be the same for every note. If your touch is correct, a faster tempo will come naturally.

I recommend practicing the fingerings 1212, 2323, 3434, 4545 to start with, or if you are comfortable with it, do all ten fingerings. As the intervals become wider there are fewer fingerings.  At first do just a few of the fingerings for each exercise.  Add on more fingerings as you become more proficient.

Listen to your sound. Every note should have the same intensity and length regardless of which finger is playing it. It is important to develop good habits from the very beginning.

Eulsun Kim