If you missed my article on Homeschool Piano Hacks Part 1, click here to read now!
One of the most important things when learning to play piano is proper hand and wrist position.
It is one reason why I really cringe when I hear a student learned to play piano through youtube tutorials or some other such method. Those methods of learning don’t address proper hand posture.
If a child doesn’t learn to play correctly it can literally cause them permanent injuries stopping them from being able to continue to play. Think carpel tunnel syndrome. If you don’t learn the proper technique your child is at risk for developing debilitating Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
So let me first briefly say what proper technique looks like before I say a hack on how to practice good technique.
Your child’s hand should have their wrist level with their wrist not higher or lower than it. As they play notes, their fingers should be curved. This means that they should press down the keys with the pad of their finger right below their SHORT nails. They should not play with flat fingers. When they press down the key make sure their first knuckle doesn’t cave in except for the thumb which gets to rest on the side of the finger. Their hand should almost look like it is holding a tennis ball as it rests on the keyboard.
Now that you know what your child’s hand posture should look like let me give you a fun hack to help them make that a habit.
Whatever they are practicing, a song or a scale, have them place a penny on their hand while they play it. If their wrist goes too high or too low the penny will slide off. This is a great way to help make it a habit to keep their wrist at a good level.
Start with a penny on one hand. When they get good at that switch to the other hand. When they get good at that use two pennies one on each hand.
If your child’s problem with their hand posture is specifically that their wrists go higher than than their hand then this trick is for you. If your Childs hand posture struggle is low wrists don’t use this trick.
Find something maybe 1-2 pounds in weight that can be tied to a string. Tie it to a string and then tie that string around your Childs wrist. As they play their songs or scales and their wrist creeps higher and higher the weight from the item on the string is a tangible and physical reminder to lower their wrist and to keep it level to their hand.
Make sure that this trick doesn’t have the opposite effect and suddenly your Childs wrist is lower than their hand. Remember the wrist should be level with the hand.
For kids who struggle with low wrists I tell them to imagine the wood of the piano is lava. They can’t touch it. What kid can’t relate to playing some form of the ground is lava. This concept helps them connect the dots… don’t touch the wood on the piano!
If you can’t think of what item to tie to a string here two items I have used in the past with my students tied to a string has been my car keys and a beanie baby. The car keys was a better weight for the trick
Have you ever noticed your child staring at the keys like their life depends on it? Or maybe you’ve seen them look from the music back to their hands for each and every note double and triple checking before they play.
It’s great they want to get it right, but one of our goals in learning piano is to get as familiar with the piano like it’s the back of their hand.
To do this I use the blindfold trick.
Pick something you’re child is extremely comfortable playing. Maybe it’s a scale. Maybe it’s an old song they had memorized. Have them attempt to play these with a blind fold on. It doesn’t have to be perfect. We are just trying to show them they are more capable than they realize.
If they don’t have either of those things yet, then have them put their hands in C position. Their RH thumb should be on middle C. Now have them play C - D - E - F - G with the blindfold on. Once they see they can do that have them go down playing G - F - E - D - C. Once they realize they can do that without looking call out the notes in random order and have them play them without looking.
The goal in these exercises is to show your child they don’t have to stare at the keyboard. In fact they shouldn’t! It’s ok to glance where the occasional note is, but for the most part we should feel where the next note to play is.
So as they are learning a song and come upon a particularly challenging portion. Have them memorize that very small portion. Then have them play it with their eyes closed or with a blindfold. Show them they are more capable than they think they are!
Start your kids on piano. Start them young. Be their teacher and help achieve greatness using these piano hacks. Remember:
Learning piano can be fun!
What is something you want your child to love for the rest of their life and not just when they’re a kid?
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Imagine your child 1 year from today playing piano! What greater gift can you give your child than the gift of music!