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Exploring Fingering with Familiar Songs



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring fingering with familiar songs on the piano is a good idea for most kids. There’s a game I play with kids to cement the idea of using the fingers in a group. I usually wait to introduce it until the child has gone through the beginning steps of fingering. They need to be at least familiar with the idea and knows how to number the fingers themselves.

The drawing shows how the fingers are numbered for piano. Start with thumbs as number 1, and then go up to 5, which is the little finger. We take a thoroughly familiar song that is very easy for them to remember. Each song inherently leads you into a different exploration of the fingers. Each song has a different series of notes and may require a different fingering.

Use Familiar Songs

Let’s take MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB. Here are some games exploring fingering that I use to get the child comfortable with fingering. First I tell them that they are a secret agent, and the secret code that will save the world is 321. We play games memorizing it, being asked to recall it, reverse it, do any number of things with the digits. Then we start to play the song. They will most likely reach for the key numbered 3 (E) with their index finger or thumb, or pinkie.

Put Their Fingers In The Right Place

Correct them and show them (take their hand) that we start with the third finger. If they start with the third finger, let them continue with the first three notes of MARY. If they play 321 with the correct fingers (finger numbers 321 in this case) make a fuss like a game show winner has been found, and let the game begin.

The game is absurd. Ask them to save the world by playing the secret code 321 with the correct fingers. If they do it correctly, have a quick giant game show celebration.

Mary Had A Little Lamb
3 2 1 2   3 3 3   2 2 2   3 5 5

Make Up Outrageous Games

If they do it incorrectly, instantly and gently correct them by taking their hand and physically push the correct fingers on the correct keys. You’re letting their brain feels the impulses. Don’t let them try again just yet.

Make a giant explosion sound and say, “The world was exploded because we couldn’t find the secret code.”
Now start the game over. Announce that they have come to save the universe by remembering the secret code that no one can remember but them!

Put The Bits Together

No matter how many times they fail, start the delightful game over. The game lasts about 20 seconds. After 2 or 3 repetitions, they will have it. Now, you can let them play the entire first phrase of MARY with fingering, and their success is assured:

Try a song on our online piano:

Mary Had A Little Lamb
| 3 2 1 2 | 3 3 3 * | 2 2 2 * | 3 5 5 * |

 

In fact, you will find the child wants to play the songs all the way to the end. Just get out of the way and let them. Play this game with many songs, each time with just a small section of notes, say 3 or 4 notes at most. Take a small portion of a song and make a game out of it. Then put the parts together, if possible.

PIANO BY NUMBER

We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!

Play Along Songs Are Fun!

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