Pianists make it look so easy, right? You see their fingers moving swiftly along the keys, performing a Chopin composition with ease. Well, playing the piano isn’t easy. Rather, professionals have great technique utilizing piano exercises they have learned over the years. And this technique comes from the very beginning — when you’re first learning how to play the piano.

When you first enter piano lessons, your teacher will help you with your finger techniques. But truly getting the hang of the fingering relies on you disciplining yourself when learning how to play the piano.

Still stuck? The following piano exercises and techniques will improve your piano playing. Study these piano finger exercises for beginners and learn how to play the piano correctly.

5-Note Pentascales

This exercise actually teaches you two important lessons: Knowing the sound of each key (which is also very important) and exercising your finger muscles.

There’s a reason why this lesson is taught during piano finger exercises for beginners.

Pianists control tempo, sound dynamics, etc. with their fingers. They’re not using their arms or their shoulders — the power is coming from their fingertips.

But fun fact: A lot of people don’t have strong muscles in their fingertips. So this exercise is like strength training your fingers. You’re becoming accustomed to using your fingertips to play the keys with strength, not your whole arms.

The Exercise

Take your right-hand thumb. Place it on Middle C (or C in 4th octave). Take your index finger, place it right next to C on D.

Place the rest of your fingers on your right hand along the corresponding keys. Middle finger on E, ring finger on F, and pinky on G.

Starting with C (or your thumb) touch each note. But, do so with the finger that’s on the note. You play D with your index finger, play E with your middle finger, etc.

After you’re done with your right hand, practice with your left; start with C of the 2nd octave and move up that scale. But your thumb won’t be on C2 — your pinky will.

Ascending and Descending Pentascales

Piano exercises for beginners, such as this one, strengthen your left and right hand simultaneously.

Touch C4 with your right thumb and touch C2 with your left pinky at the same time.

Do the same with the next note — touch D4 with your index finger and D2 with your ring finger. Go up and down the scale (also known as ‘ascending’ and ‘descending) until you get the hang of it.

When you play the piano, you play with two hands. This exercise helps improve your coordination and becoming accustomed to playing with two hands at the same time.

Play Triads

This is also known as ‘play in thirds.’ You’re skipping a note with each finger.

In this exercise, you’re only playing C, E, and G (the C major triad). However, all five fingers will be on the note.

Piano finger exercises for beginners, like this one, is conditioning your brain to play different notes, not in ascending or descending order.

Start this with your right hand, to make it easy. Once you get the hang of your right hand, play triads with only your left. You can even switch to two hands if you’re comfortable.

Firm Finger Position

For this exercise, your fingers won’t be on the keys. This exercise is to get you accustomed to the playing position. You can do this exercise anywhere.

This exercise makes you become used to the hand and finger position. Remember this position to avoid injury and long-term issues such as arthritis and carpal tunnel.

Your fingers will be worked to become firmer — unnecessary weight or stress won’t be added to your arms.

The Exercise

Hold your hands out straight. Don’t straighten out your fingers, keep them relaxed. Bend your fingers at the first knuckle, or the knuckle closest to your fingers.

When you go to your keys, hold your hand in this position. Hover your hand over the keys, and then let your hand fall on them.

At this beginning point, you don’t have to lay your fingers on specific keys or play anything. This position makes your fingers firm while giving enough flexibility to allow movement.

Over Legato

Become accustomed to playing each note legato, or hold the note until your play the play the next note (legato means ‘connected’ or ‘smooth’).

Start playing C with your right thumb. Hold down C, and let go the second you hold D with your index finger. Do this exercise and ascend the scale.

You practice a legato, you develop the feel of your fingers on the keys. This helps to control your fingers and the sound your fingers make the keys produce.

This exercise sounds easy, but it’s actually very difficult. The next note plays, not even a split second after the first one ends. So you have to pay close attention and control your fingers.

There’s no actual count when you first play this exercise. But once you get the hang of it, start to hold each note for a certain count. Start with four counts (whole note) and decrease to two counts (half note), etc.

Play a Whole Octave

Play a whole octave. It sounds easy, but the fingering isn’t.

When you play the piano, you’re not playing ascending and descending scales. You’re playing all sorts of notes.

Therefore, your hand will be moving all over the place. This exercise teaches you how to be accurate — and having speed — for when you’re preparing a leap in an octave or moving to another scale.

The Exercise

If you’re playing C major in 4th octave, start with your thumb on C4. Play each subsequent note with the corresponding finger as discussed.

You have five fingers but there are seven notes. What do you do?

Play C with your thumb, D with your index finger, E with your middle finger, but F with your thumb.

The minute your index finger touches D, lift your thumb and begin tilting your hand to the right. This will prepare you to hit your thumb on F in perfect timing.

Do the same with the rest of the scale — after your thumb hits F, your index finger will hit G, and you’ll prepare your thumb to hit B.

Hanon & Czerny Piano Exercise Books

Piano teachers have been using Hanon & Czerny piano exercises for well over 100 years for a reason.  Hanon & Czerny piano finger exercises have been meticulously crafted to provide the perfect level of practice for piano players of all levels of skill.   Try a few exercises and find out for yourself why the Hanon & Czerny piano techniques are still widely recommended and used for pianists in this day and age.

In addition to the popularly used Hanon & Czerny piano exercise books below is a comprehensive list of the the most popular piano exercises to help piano students of all levels to develop faster fingers and better technique:

AUTHORBOOKSLISTEN / WATCH
Ann ThompsonJohn Thompson's Modern CourseListen / Watch
Allan Small and Charles-Louis HanonJunior HanonListen / Watch
BeethovenSonatina AlbumListen / Watch
Carl CzernySchool of VelocityListen / Watch
Carl CzernyPractical Method for Beginners, Op. 599Listen / Watch
Carl CzernySelected Piano StudiesListen / Watch
Carl Czerny101 Exercises Op. 261Listen / Watch
Carl Czerny100 Progressive Studies without Octaves, Op. 139Listen / Watch
Carl Czerny24 Studies for the Left Hand, Op. 718: For Late Intermediate to Early Advanced PianoListen / Watch
Carl CzernyFirst Instruction in Piano-playing: One Hundred RecreationsListen / Watch
Carl Czerny110 Easy and Progressive Exercises, Op. 453: Piano TechniqueListen / Watch
Carl CzernySelected Czerny StudiesListen / Watch
Carl CzernyThe Young Pianist, Op. 823 (Complete)Listen / Watch
Carl CzernyThe Little PianistListen / Watch
Carl CzernyFive Finger Studies, Op. 777Listen / Watch
Carl Czerny125 Exercises for Passage Playing, Op. 261Listen / Watch
Carl CzernyPreliminary School of Finger Dexterity, Op. 636Listen / Watch
Carl CzernyArt of Finger Dexterity in PianoListen / Watch
Carl Czerny, Charles-Louis Hanon, and Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield32 Piano Studies Selected for Technique and MusicalityListen / Watch
Charles-Louis Hanon and Leo AlfassyJazz HanonListen / Watch
Charles-Louis Hanon and John Thompson HavershamHanon Studies - Book 1: Elementary LevelListen / Watch
Charles-Louis HanonHanon Deluxe the Virtuoso Pianist Transposed in All KeysListen / Watch
Edna Mae BurnamA Dozen A Day, Book TwoListen / Watch
Eric TaylorMusic Theory in Practice, Grade 1Listen / Watch
Johann Sebastian BachFirst Lessons in BachListen / Watch
John Sylvanus ThompsonJohn Thompson's Easiest Piano Course, Part OneListen / Watch
Larry FineThe Piano BookListen / Watch
Leo AlfassyBlues HanonListen / Watch
Nancy Faber, Randall Faber, and Victoria McArthurPiano AdventuresListen / Watch

Improve Your Playing with Piano Exercises for Beginners

When pianists play, they look relaxed and serene. But their fingers are moving a million miles a minute.

One of the first steps in becoming an amazing pianist is learning the correct fingering techniques. These won’t come easy at first; as you practice, these fingering techniques will become natural.

Once you get down these piano exercises, you’ll understand the craft of professional piano playing.

If you’re looking for piano lessons, we can help you.

Hanon Piano Exercises PDF Downloads [FREE]

Below are the first 20 Hanon piano exercises available as free PDF downloads. The are also the most frequently used by pianists and teachers around the world to improve their finger strength and speed and to build their technique.

AUTHORBOOKSFREE PDF DOWNLOAD
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 1
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 2
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 3
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 4
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 5
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 6
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 7
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 8
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 9
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 10
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 11
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 12
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 13
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 14
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 15
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 16
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 17
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 18
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 19
Charles-Louis HanonThe Virtuoso PianistHanon Piano Exercise No 20

 

When it comes to the piano, it’s all in the fingers. To keep your fingers quick, strong, and nimble try adding these piano exercises to your practice routine.

When you watch a skilled pianist perform, it’s almost as if their hands are their own entity. Strong fingers seem to glide across the keys, each one with its own intent and purpose. They dexterously touch each intended key with a precise, fluid pressure as commanded by the player, taking on a life of their own.

Developing finger strength and dexterity is the key to mastering the piano. Skilled pianists know that piano finger exercises are crucial for developing the fine motor mastery that is needed to play complex pieces of music.

If you’re looking to hone your skills as a pianist, it is important to strengthen your finger skills just as a professional athlete trains their body. Ready to take your playing to the next level? Read on for some great piano techniques you can start practicing today.

Why the Hands are Important (Right Hand, Left Hand)

The strength and precision of your hands allow you to tightly control how soft or hard you play certain notes. Being able to create a widespread with your hands is important for playing large chords across the keys.

The ring and pinky fingers often resist singular movement, so a piano player must strengthen the independence of these digits in order to stretch them across the keys and reach notes far from their other fingers. Honing these skills improves hand-eye coordination, speed, articulation, and ambidexterity.

1. Scales

Practicing scales is an efficient way not only to tune your ear but improve the dexterity and muscle memory of your hands. Each type of scale presents different musical challenges.

Mastering chromatic, major, minor, and arpeggio scales will acclimate you to the needs of different musical pieces. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed. Practice playing in staccato and legato to teach your hands different ways to strike the keys.

2. Fingering Numbers

Each finger on the hand is assigned a number for piano playing. These numbers are often annotated in sheet music, allowing the piano player to determine the hand positions needed at any given time.

When first learning these numbers, it’s very important to associate your fingers with their assigned number instantaneously. Once you can do it without a second thought, transitions during musical pieces can be more fluid without the hesitation of figuring out which finger goes where to progress.

To master this finger-number association, recruit a friend. With your fingers hidden behind your back, have them call out numbers to you. As they do, you will each pull out the designated hand and wiggle the called finger, as quickly as possible.

For example, if the friend calls “Right, four,” you would reveal your ring finger on your right hand and attempt to wiggle it independently. This exercise is especially helpful for new players and children.

3. Finger Patterning

Similar to the above exercise, you can use finger numbering to practice patterns. Sitting at a table or using your lap, practice playing imaginary keys using only finger numbers as your guide.

Either from a list of numbers or from a friend calling out a pattern to you, press down with only the numbers called. Speed up as you go, or change up the pattern to work through many groups of numbers.

You can transition this work to the piano itself, using the number game to press keys and learn their sounds. Start with one hand, and increase the difficulty by adding them both.

4. Try Classic Piano Exercises

Two famous pieces on piano theory are Practical Method for Beginners by Czerny and The Virtuoso Pianist by Hanon. These two guides are time-honored among pianists for their breadth in exercises and technique development.

Hanon includes 60 finger exercises and focuses on articulation and speed-building. Czerny, on the other hand, helps the player focus on the musicality of each piece and building a musical sound within difficult passages. Each has value for skill development, so try some exercises from both as you progress.

If these guides are too complex to start, a great alternative is A Dozen A Day Mini-Book by Edna-Mae Burnam. Designed for all ages, this book is one of many in her easy-to-follow piano technique series of the same name.

5. Work Your Hands Off the Bench

You can increase hand strength and flexibility when not at the piano, as well. Like an athlete, musicians can benefit from training that is outside of practice or performance.

Try using a stress ball a few times a week. Squeeze it as hard as you can without pain, holding the position for a few seconds. Repeat this a dozen times for both left hand and right hand.

Strengthen your wrists by extending your arms in front, wrists toward the floor and fingers pointed straight. Alternate pointing all of your fingers, bent at the wrist, toward the floor and ceiling until you feel a forearm stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds, and repeat 2-4 times.

Keeping your hands and wrists warmed up and limber is very important for preventing cramps and fatigue. Pianists who keep up with stretching and hand exercises can help ward off problems such as arthritis and carpal tunnel.

Try a variety of piano exercises and strengthening activities off the bench to keep your tools in top shape!

Piano Finger Exercises Make Better Players

Even seasoned pianists and piano teachers start with exercises to warm up and maintain their form. No matter your skill level, keeping your hands and mind sharp with piano finger exercises is essential to increasing your skill and ease of play.

Whether you decide to do Hanon exercises daily or create your own finger patterns for practice, the key is to put in a little time as often as you can. Training your body regularly will teach it new skills and muscle memory, which will build a foundation for a lifetime of playing.

Supplement your practice sessions with some piano lessons, summer camps, or other professional resources from Merriam Music. We offer courses for all ages and skill levels. Come learn the basics or perfect your piano technique at Toronto’s top-rated music school today!