Early piano repertoire is often presented in predictable hand positions, like C position or G position. Position-based play provides young students with a sense of security and comfort as they navigate beginning note reading, rhythm and coordination. But piano students need to know, early and often, that their hands can move! Giving them frequent opportunities to play “out of position” prevents the development of strong associations between finger numbers and just one set of note names.
While it sounds straight forward, many young beginners struggle with playing out of position for the simple fact that, when they are practicing at home, they simply forget where their hands go;they haven’t fully processed the idea of matching a given finger number/note to their hand placement on the piano. And when this happens… an entire week passes where kids either practice incorrectly or do not practice at all!
So today we are sharing a spring-themed DIY activity that you can use with your students to solve the age-old problem of, “Where do my hands go?’
A DIY Activity For Teaching Finger Number Clues
If you have piano students who never know where to put their hands on the keyboard, then today’s DIY teaching tool will help them solve the mystery. No longer will kids look to you for assistance before beginning a piece. No longer will kids associate “1” with “C”, “2” with “D” and so on.
With the crafting skills of a preschooler, you’ll easily be able to create a “hands on” tulip garden that your students can manipulate to match different finger numbers to different keys on the piano:
Step 1: Before beginning, you will need various colors of construction paper, scissors, a glue stick, a sharpie, and 5 popsicle sticks.
Step 2: To make your tulip garden, fold the bottom of a blue piece of construction paper so that it creates a pocket. Cover the pocket with green construction paper, sliced to look like grass. Then, cut five tulip shapes and glue each to a popsicle stick to create five flowers. Write “C, D, E, F and G” (or your choice of note names) on the grass and “1, 2, 3, 4, and 5” on the flowers.
Step 3: Your tulip garden is now ready to use! Place it on the piano in front of your student and have her arrange the tulip sticks in any order (placing one numbered tulip stick behind each note name label). Now, starting from the left, instruct your student to name the first finger number, name the first note and then use these clues to place her RH fingers on the piano. For example, if the “4 tulip” is in the “C pocket” then she would place her right hand 4 finger on C and rest her remaining fingers on the neighboring keys. This procedure should be repeated for each remaining flower. Upon completion, have your student rearrange the flowers and then play the game again with her left hand.
The simple act of matching these “finger number clues” to keys on the piano is the reinforcement your students. Once they return to their sheet music they will have internalized this process and will know exactly how to figure out their hand placement.
The Definitely-Not-Frustrating Piano Books
Trevor and I have made it our life mission to create piano resources that are simple, straight-forward and effective. When we write our WunderKeys Method Books we spend months planning and testing the structure and presentation of lesson concepts so that kids are free from frustration as they fall in love with piano lessons.
Recently piano teachers had this to say about WunderKeys:
“I love seeing my students reach their goals. Their faces light up when they achieve something they didn’t think they could do. It brings my students, their families, and me a lot of fulfillment and joy. This is what finding your dream job looks like to me!”
I’m teaching little ones about music concepts that I never thought possible. The first time a student plays a duet with me, it’s so endearing to watch their face light up! I encourage other teachers to use WunderKeys.”