A while back we shared a handy little DIY device to help collapsing finger joints called the “Fingercise Cup”. It quickly became a piano teacher’s go-to tool for helping students develop finger strength and fix collapsing fingers joints.
Today we’re sharing another great little DIY project that will help your beginning piano students with several of the most common “beginning student issues”:
- Finding a natural, curved hand shape
- Learning to play with curved fingers
- Developing finger independence and dexterity
- Memorizing finger numbers
Button Gloves (which I stumbled on here while surfing Pinterest) are simply gloves with small buttons fixed to the end of each finger. As soon as I saw a pair pop up on Pinterest, I knew I had to find a piano-related purpose for them! And so I did 🙂
The 9 activities I’ve described below will benefit young piano students by encouraging a natural, rounded hand position, reinforcing naturally curved fingers, and improving dexterity and finger independence.
How To Make Your Own Button Gloves
Making a button glove is easy (Hey… if I can do it, so can you!) You will need:
- A pair of small child-sized gloves
- 10 buttons (two of each color, one set of 5 for each hand).
- Glue or a needle and thread. I was able to find button stickers at Dollarama!
Attach the buttons to the finger on each glove, being careful to place them in the spot where a student should generally strike a piano key.
Why Use Button Gloves?
Buttons work really well for encouraging curved fingers and a rounded hand shape.
Why? The flat surface of the button provides a tactile way of feeling when the finger is curved correctly. For the entire surface of the button to rest flat against a surface, the finger needs to be in a “good piano hand” shape. The aural “tapping” of the button further reinforces this hand shape as it works best when the correct finger curve is found.
When you have a beginning student on the bench, have her put on the gloves and complete these activities. Each activity should be completed so that the button face taps, rests or is placed squarely on a flat surface, encouraging a rounded hand shape.
9 Fun Ways To Use Button Gloves
1. Draw several measures of rhythm on a sheet of paper. Call out a finger number and have your student tap the rhythm using the correct finger. The trick to this activity is keeping the other button surfaces/fingers “stuck” to the flat surface… encouraging a curved hand position while isolating just one finger at a time.
1. Fill a piece of a paper with colored circles that match the colors of the buttons on the glove. Have your student slide her hand around the paper, stopping to tap each colored circle using the matching finger. Ensure the button faces/fingers not being tapped remain flat on the paper’s surface.
2. Fill a piece of paper with the numbers 1 through 5. Have your student slide her hand around the paper, stopping to tap with the matching finger to each number while using a curved finger to allow for the entire button face to contact the paper.
3. Draw several lines of number patterns using numbers 1 through 5 (for example: 1 2 2 4 5 3 1). Have your student tap the corresponding fingers to match the pattern while keeping the other button surfaces “stuck” to the flat surface.
4. Using colored markers that match each button color, draw swerving lines across a sheet of paper. Have your student match a button color to a line color and “trace” each line from start to finish while maintaining a curved hand position.
5. Have your student turn her hand palm-up. Call out a color and have her touch the button on her thumb to the button on the corresponding finger so that the button faces line up and touch squarely. This activity is great for finger flexibility!
6. Call out two finger numbers and have your student tap back and forth between those two numbers (for example: 2 4 2 4 2 4 2 4). Can she maintain a steady rhythm while ensuring the entire surface of each button taps?
7. Have your student place both of her hands in a natural curved shape so that each button face is touching a flat surface. Call out a finger number and have your student tap the corresponding fingers on both hands at the same time… while the other fingers remain on the flat surface.
8. Call out intervals and have your student use a curved hand shape while playing the two fingers that would make up the interval. For example, if you called out “third” your student could tap either her 1 and 3 fingers, her 2 and 4 fingers, or her 3 and 5 fingers. Ask her to be sure that both buttons tap at exactly the same time.
9. At the piano, call out a note name and a finger number. Ask your student to tap the corresponding finger on the corresponding note while keeping a curved hand shape.
Strong Visuals Mean Lasting Impressions!
It can be difficult to correct hand position once a piano student has reinforced poor habits. Starting off with a strong teaching visual leaves a lasting impression that will stop these common issues before they start. Give it a try… we’d love to know how it works for your students!
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