How to Learn Piano Fingering

By Contributor
Learn Piano Fingering

How to Learn Piano Fingering. As a beginning pianist, you will need advice on which fingers to use on which notes until you can play without looking at your fingers. Here are some basics of fingering.

Fingering Exercises

Learn to name the notes on the keyboard you are about to play.

Look down at the keyboard to find the notes of the C major scale: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C' (white keys only).

Play on a mid-range octave (the eight notes of the diatonic scale). Fingers in piano music are numbered as thumb = 1, index finger = 2, middle finger = 3, ring finger = 4, little finger = 5.

Place your right thumb on the key that corresponds to the note of C.

Play the following exercise with your right hand: C(1)-D(2)-E(3)-F(4)-G-(5)-F(4)-E(3)-D(2)-C(1). Look at the keyboard while playing until you have the numbers down.

Play the exercise without looking at the notes and numbers.

Finally, practice without looking at what your fingers are doing.

Play three notes of the scale in the following manner: C(1)-E(3)-G(5); F(1)-A(2)-C'(5); B(5)-G(3)-E(1).

Note that where notes proceed in alphabetical order, you use your fingers in the same order: if a white key is left out, the corresponding finger is also left out.

Do a similar exercise using the fingers of your left hand: E(3)-D(2)-C(1); C(1)-F(4)-G(5); G(5)-E(3)-C(1); G(4)-A(3)-B(2).

Note that in G-A-B, the index finger (2) crosses over the middle and ring finger. This is a technique you will need to use frequently in piano music.

Play fairly smoothly and as softly as you can.

Raise one key at the precise moment when you press down on the next key to avoid gaps between sounds.

Play the exercises very slowly until you can do them smoothly without looking at your fingers, then increase your speed. You will never get any piano piece right if you play too fast, skipping over mistakes!

Playing Music

Using the fingering technique you've just learned, play the following tune [4/4 rhythm counting 1-2-3-4 each bar;( / = bar measure; = rest)]: E(3)-E(3)-F(4)-G(5) / G(5)-F(4)-E(3)-D(2) / C(1)-C(1)-D(2)-E(3) / E(3)-D(2)-D(2)(2) / E(3)-E(3)-F(4)-G(5) / G(5)-F(4)-E(3)-D(2) / C(1)-C(1)-D(2)-E(3) / D(2)(2)-C(1)(1) / D(2)-D(2)-E(3)-C(1) / D(2)-F(4)-E(3)-C(1) / D(2)-F(4)-E(3)-D(2) / C(1)-D(2)-D(2)(2) / E(3)-E(3)-F(4)-G(5) / G(5)-F(4)-E(3)-D(2) / C(1)-C(1)-D(2)-E(3) / D(2)-C(1)-C(1)(1) /

Name that tune. Check out User Tips to see if your answer matches JD's!

Tip

Start on a book of easy piano studies. You can purchase piano music at any music store.