5 Techniques Every Beginner Piano Student Should Learn

One of the MOST important things to teach in the first few piano lessons is the importance of good technique. We’re not just talking about being able to play fast scales or Hanon exercises – technique goes far beyond that. Piano technique includes everything about the way we move our bodies to play the piano, from head to toe! Having poor technique will limit you in terms of what pieces you can play and what kinds of sounds you can get out of the piano. On the other hand, developing great technique from the beginning unlocks the ability to play more repertoire and to do so more beautifully.
curved fingers

Our Piano Academy students work on technique every day in their practicing, as well as with their teacher during the lesson. Here are some of the most important techniques they learn within the first few months of lessons:

Technique 1: Navigating the Keyboard

Since pianos are organized by groups of 2 and 3 black keys, we like to use these to teach our students the note names and how to move around the piano! We call the groups of 2 black keys the “dog house” (with the cat, dog, and elephant) and the grotups of 3 “Grandma’s House” (with a front and back door, Grandma, and an apple pie!). The exercise below helps students learn how to move around the keys and get used to playing all over the keyboard.

Technique 2: Arm Weight

The concept of arm weight teaches students to play with a relaxed, loose arm in order to get a strong tone without having tension in their bodies. We LOVE this exercise from the creators of Piano Safari:

Technique 3: Relaxed Wrist

A pianist’s wrists have to be strong enough to support the hands and fingers, but stiff wrists can lead to pain and repetitive motion injuries. This “chicken pecking” exercise teaches students to have a relaxed wrist that can move freely (and it’s kind of fun to pretend to be a chicken):

Technique 4: Curved Fingers

As piano teachers, this is a phrase we use all the time – “Remember to curve your fingers!” Curved fingers are absolutely essential to finger independence, developing fast fingers, and producing a good sound at the piano. This exercise specifically focuses on curved fingers and a round hand shape (almost like you’re holding a bubble), but students are reminded to curve their fingers all the time.

Technique 5: Hands-Together Coordination

Once students have developed a good hand shape and tone, it’s exciting to start playing with both hands at the same time! This exercise takes a pattern students already know well (5-finger patterns in C major) and gets them playing it hands together. It may take a little while to get the coordination completely down, but this opens the door to much more difficult (and fun) repertoire pieces!

Of course, developing good technique goes way beyond these simple patterns. But with the right foundation, the sky is the limit for what students can learn to play!