As you’re playing the piano, does it feel like your left hand just can’t keep up with the right? Here, Corona, CA teacher Milton J. shares a few piano exercises to add to your practice to target this common struggle…
The dreaded left hand. The hand with a mind of its own, the hand that lags behind the right, and the hand that does not seem that smart. While all of these conjectures are common, it stems from a lack of detailed attention to developing the accompanying left hand in conjunction with the melodic right hand. Here are five piano exercises that will help make your left hand stronger, faster, and ready to move with the right!
I Can Play with One Hand Tied Behind My Back
With this exercise, practice playing the melody that you’d normally play on your right hand. What would seem like an easy task is not as easy if you’re not used to utilizing the left hand like this, so this will be a nice challenge for your less-dominant left hand.
A Slow Burn
Now, you should slow things down to make sure you’re being accurate and allowing your hand and arm muscles to memorize the movements and placements for your piano exercises and songs. As you repeat the same motions, muscle memory will begin and you’ll be able to eventually speed things back up a tempo. However, be sure not to rush it!
The Hanon Effect
Did you know that even many seasoned professional pianists haven’t fully master all 60 Hanon exercises? I know your follow-up question after this answer, however – “What are the Hanon exercises?” They are piano exercises created by pianist and teacher Charles-Louis Hanon over 100 years ago and are still just as useful today. These exercises work on building finger and hand speed, dexterity, coordination, agility, and strength.
Play. Compliment. Repeat.
This exercise is mostly a simple extension of the exercises you’ll already working on. The difference here is giving yourself a momentary pause after completing an exercise correctly, lifting your fingers off the keyboard, and complimenting yourself with a repeated phrase or gesture (like saying “Great job, Milton!” or patting yourself on the back).
After doing so repeatedly, you may start to realize that your right hand is able to immediately go to your chords and melodies without much thought. Essentially, you’re helping to accelerate your muscle memory within your hands and arms. Continue this exercise through the circle of fifths and keep it going until you’ve mastered it in all 12 keys.
Let It Rest, Let It Rest, Let It Rest
Once you’ve given your left hand a good workout through all those exercises, LET IT REST. More than we often realize, growth also comes when we’re away from the piano. It’s that period in between your practice sessions when the muscles grow and build, which is why you may end a practice session fatigued and not necessarily feeling satisfied that you mastered what you set out to master. However, don’t let yourself be discouraged, as the next time you sit down to the piano, you’ll notice it’s a lot easier to do what you once struggled with. This is essentially the “hump” to get over, as many students tend to give up in this moment, leading to quitting much too early due to the perceived discouragement.
Don’t let this negativity set in. Let your muscles rest, let the knowledge marinate, and return with a determination that you’re going to accomplish all of your piano-playing goals!
Milton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!
Photo by guruscotty