When you first start playing the piano you will notice that your fingers are incredibly weak. This is completely normal and shouldn’t be something that discourages you. If you know this and accept it, you can start to move forward and build the strength you need to play the piano.
It is my opinion that strengthening your fingers as a beginner is one of the more important things that you can do. This is something that you don’t need to spend a ton of time on, but it will definitely take you to the next level. The main purpose of doing finger strength exercises for the piano is to strengthen your weaker fingers. Everyone begins with low finger dexterity and won’t have the control that they desire early on.
Learning a bunch of different songs will help develop your finger strength, but only to a certain point. In the beginning, you need to supplement learning songs with drills and scales.
Here are the best ways to strengthen your fingers for the piano.
Best Piano Exercises For Weak Fingers
My teacher called these drills the Frankenstein drills because these drills really help your stiff fingers. There is no drill that has helped me strengthen my fingers more than this one.
To do this, you will want to take your 1 finger on your right hand, which is your thumb and place it on middle C. Once you do this you hold middle C down and play D, E, F, G with rest of your fingers completing a five note scale. You will go up and down the scale while keeping your thumb down.
Do not lift your thumb up. This will be extremely hard for new pianists. Once you completed this 3 times in a row on your thumb, go to your 2 finger or your pointer finger on your right hand. This is where it gets hard. You will go very slow in the beginning and only be focusing on hitting all of the notes. If your finger you’re trying to hold down keeps lifting up, decrease your speed and just focus on getting through the exercise.
Once you are able to do this in your right hand, start to do this with your left hand. Your left hand may be weaker if it’s not your dominant hand, so don’t be discouraged. This will take you months to get good at. If you do this while you’re doing your other material, you will see huge jumps in finger dexterity.
I, personally, have always found these drills to be quite frustrating as they really push you. As you get better you will want to both hands at once and then start using a metronome. Slowly increase your speed with your metronome and work on playing as legato or smooth as you possibly can.
If you don’t have a metronome, here are my favorites that I really recommend.
Once you start to master this drill, you will notice that your finger strength has greatly improved.
Scales are the holy grail for pianists. Mastering scales is something you will need to do in order to reach your full potential with this instrument. These help you play to faster tempos and they also build your finger strength up at the same time.
Instructors swear by scales as they have so many different benefits to the pianist. I recommend checking out Youtube for videos and also grabbing a book that is all scales.
Here is some advice that I have when it comes to playing piano scales.
Finger Hammer Drills
This is one that I actually made up. I’m sure other people have done this first, but I find this helpful. This is basically the Frankenstein drills, only you do reps with each finger. For example, take your pointer finger and hold a note down. While holding that note down, pick another finger on the same hand, and start hitting a note over and over. Keep the same finger down and do 20 reps per finger. Do this until you hit every finger. You will notice that some are easier than others.
This is a good drill because it builds finger strength in fingers that are typically weaker. As you start to get good at this, start to mess with different and more challenging rhythms. This will make your brain think and it will help establish some chemistry with your fingers and your brain.
I call these finger hammer drills because your fingers are acting as mini hammers slamming into the keys. It’s a rather fun drill to do.
What Finger Exercises Do
These exercises are going to strengthen your fingers that are weak. Now the fingers that are typically the weakest will be your ring and pinky fingers. This is because these fingers aren’t used in the beginning as much as your other fingers.
Having stronger fingers will help you greatly when it comes to playing difficult classical pieces or jazz pieces.
If you’re struggling to play certain chords in your left hand, this is because your fingers aren’t as strong as they need to be.
Do I Need To Develop Finger Strength To Be Good?
The easy answer is, yes. If you never develop your finger strength you will be dead in the water on the harder classical pieces. Having weak fingers also leads to having bad technique when it comes to being able to play songs with the proper dynamics. This is why so many instructors will go back and master the classic songs that they learned when they were younger.
Having good dynamics is what takes you to the next level.
Do you have any experience when it comes to playing the piano? What are some drills that you did in order to increase your finger strength? Let me know in the comment section!