One of the very first things your piano students learn in their lessons is their finger numbers. And there are SO many ways you can reinforce this new knowledge without putting Newbie Natalie to sleep.
So, if you find yourself stuck in the rut of “trace your hands and write the finger numbers on your tracing”… print out this list of 14 fun ways to review finger numbers and find your favorites. Your new piano students will leave with a smile and will never confuse finger 2 and finger 4 again 🙂
14 Fun Ways To Review Finger Numbers With Piano Students
1. Play Simon Says – “Simon says show me your 3 fingers, Simon says show me your 2 fingers. Simon says show me your 4 fingers. Show me your 1 fingers.” Did he stick up his thumbs? Then he loses because you didn’t say “Simon says” before the direction. Start again! Kids love this when THEY also get to be Simon.
2. Double Digits – Write down double digit numbers (like 24) and have your student represent this number by showing the first number on his left hand and the second number on his right hand. 24 would be LH pointer, RH ring finger. Then set the timer and let ‘er fly calling out double digits as fast as you can. This is a great game for older beginners.
3. Finger Flash – Call out (as fast as you can), “Left hand 1, Right hand 4. Left hand 2, Right hand 5” etc. see if your piano student can create these combinations using aural cues.
4. Number Chain – Have your student roll a die and write down the resulting numbers in a line on a piece of paper. I like to use a big foam die to prevent it rolling under the piano. If they roll a 6 it’s a re-roll. Once you have ten numbers in a line, then your student plays any given key on the piano with this “chain” of fingers. For example, if she rolled 3,4,5,1,2 etc. then she would play middle C with first her 3 finger, then her 4, then her 5, then her 1 etc. How fast can she play the chain without making a mistake?
5. Roll A Die – Roll a die (again, using a big foam one from the Dollar Tree saves you any chasing) and have your student hold up the finger number that corresponds. Rolling a 6 is a “wild roll” and you both race to play a group of 2 black keys (another important beginner skill).
6. Separate a deck of cards by taking out numbers 1 through 5 in all suits. Shuffle the cards and then flip through the deck, holding up one card at a time. Your student plays any key with the finger number shown. Red suits (hearts and diamonds) are for the RH and black suits (clubs and spades) are for the LH. How fast can you flip through?
7. Ghost Fingers – Hold your hand up against your student’s hand so your palms are touching. He names the finger that you slightly wiggle against his. This one requires him to connect a sensation in his finger with his knowledge of the finger’s “number name” – very different than visually knowing it.
8. Trace Race – This is a take-off from the “traditional” trace your hands activity. Instead of tracing the entire hand, your student holds the pencil and waits for you to say a finger number. He then only traces around that finger and then waits for the next number, tracing around only that finger. Continue until the entire hand is complete.
9. Grab a Drum – This is a great off-the bench way of reinforcing finger numbers. Using a bongo drum (or even the skin of a tambourine) ask your student to tap rhythms given to them (you clap or demo on the drum) with a given finger number. This is a great ear training exercise built right in!
10. Play Dough – Play dough is great for tactile learners. Roll out a flat pancake and have your piano student make a hand impression in the dough. You can now use this as you would a hand tracing – but you can be inventive with a few props (a pencil can poke holes, pretty beads can be pushed in etc.)
11. Finger Visits – Have your student’s RH fingers “visit” the LH fingers by asking her to touch a given RH finger to a given LH finger. This is a great cross-brain activity that requires a lot of careful thought for kids – and also gives them reinforcement using their sense of touch. Ask “Can RH 1 visit LH 5?” Your student then touches their RH thumb to the pad of their LH 5 finger. Repeat.
12. Flick It – Place a pen on a flat surface and ask you student to flick it so it rolls across the table. The catch? They have to use a certain finger (named by you) to brace against their thumb to perform the “flick”. Be sure to do this with both hands (but one at a time).
13. Can you guess? Hold your hands behind your back with a different finger sticking up on each hand. Your student has 3 tries to guess the combination (“Number 1 and Number 4?” etc.) After 3 guesses the finger combination is revealed and it’s now your turn to guess your student’s combination.
14. Find the fingering – This brings finger numbering back into context – hold up finger, have your student name the finger number and then go searching in his brand new method book to find this finger number within the context of a piece (as fast as he can).
What’s Old Is New Again!
Changing up your teaching routine is not only fun for your students… it’s fun for you too! How many times have you used the same old “learn your fingering” drills?! Snore. What’s old can be made new again with a little ingenuity and the willingness to try something new. You AND your students will be smiling with even the smallest of changes. Give it a shot!
Speaking of old… those same technical exercises books that you’ve used for fifteen years can be a bit dry. Have you checked out our TEDDtales technical exercise book yet? It’s a fabulous way of honing in on those needed technical skills in a way that is an absolute blast for both your and your students!