Have you ever tried to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time? How about moving your right foot clockwise, while drawing the number 6 with your right hand? Both of these activities may drive you crazy if you can’t get them right. And for the beginner piano player trying to coordinate the left and right hand together, the feeling might be pretty similar.
Our hands and feet have a tendency to mirror the same movements, so the act of distinguishing two separate motions can confuse your brain. You may have mastered “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” but once you get to the trickier tunes, you’ll be facing passages in which your two hands are doing two completely different things. Your brain might fight with you at first, but with enough practice, dealing with contrasting rhythms and fingerings will get easier over time.
Not convinced? Here are some tips that can help when you’re learning how to play the piano with both hands simultaneously:
(1) Improve your sight reading skills.
Before you even attempt a difficult passage, make sure your note reading skills are up to par. If you can’t distinguish each note on the staff quickly, take a step back and master that first. Trust us – it will make the process a lot easier!
(2) Practice each hand separately, then put them together.
Begin by practicing each hand separately. You might be tempted just to memorize the phrase, but it will help you in the long run if you’re consciously reading along with the music as you go. When you’re ready to practice with both hands together, don’t be afraid to slow things down. Try reading each measure vertically as opposed to horizontally – this will help you fuse the two lines and start to feel which notes go together. Using a metronome can also help as you take it measure by measure.
The coordination will come a lot easier when you’re not stressing out about playing with both hands. Instead of worrying, try clearing your mind and letting it flow. Most of all, trust in your abilities. And of course: practice, practice, practice!
Photo by Andrew Stawarz.