If you’ve ever had a piano student with collapsing finger joints then you know it can be difficult to remedy. If you haven’t had a piano student with collapsing finger joints and you’re wondering.. what is that? Then check out the picture below (where I collapse my 2nd finger joint closest to the finger tip on purpose... knew I should have got a manicure!).
Collapsing finger joints are something that are best remedied early on in your piano students’ lessons… and today we have the handiest little tool to share with you. You can make it yourself, your students will love to use it and it really works to bring strength to finger joints as well as an awareness of proper finger positioning on the keys.
Introducing The Amazing Fingercise Cup
You can read and read and read about collapsing finger joints and you can explain and explain and explain how to fix them to your students, but this way is efficient and fun! The little cup/drum you’ll see in the video below came home with my daughter from her preschool and I knew immediately what I could do with it. Building strength and (and this is key) awareness of correct finger position is important, and you can do this with a very simple exercise that uses this fun little tool. See the 2 minute explainer video below.
My Superman-loving 3-year-old daughter is the one in the video. You can tell that even her young fingers naturally find a correct shape in order to make the rewarding sound. The same sound can’t be made with a collapsed joint – and so there is also the aural-feedback benefits of this tool as well; your students will know when they are doing it correctly without you needing to be present.
How To Make Your Own Fingercise Cup
You’ll need a balloon, a small (empty) plastic applesauce cup, some beads or dried beans, a piece of duct tape and some stickers (to make it look fun).
1. Eat applesauce for breakfast, lunch and dinner 😉
2. Fill the empty applesauce cup with a tablespoon of beads or beans.
3. Cut the rolled rim off of the balloon (but not too far down) and stretch the balloon over the open side of the cup so that the top surface is completely flat like the skin of a drum.
4. Secure all edges of the balloon to the bottom of the cup with a square piece of duct tape.
5. Decorate with stickers.
Directions for Using Your New Fingercise Cup
Sending this tool home with your students to use before they play the piano as a “warm up” is a great idea. You can also use this cup in lesson time by inventing games to play that require different fingers to be used (simon says, copy cat etc.) and different rhythms to be created. As a bonus, this tool also doubles as an alternative to clapping rhythms (give it a shake and you’ll see what I mean!).
When back on the piano, a reminder of what it felt like to “pluck” the top of the cup (coupled with the strength your student has been building) will usually help to resolve that collapsing finger quickly!