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Piano Fingering for Preschool Kids

Piano fingering for preschool kids will not follow your expectations. Expect the unexpected, the eccentric, the implausible. The standard is that the five fingers fall in a neat little row. When a child starts piano with me, I like to see what they do instinctively, with no prompting. So it follows that I have seen every odd, childish and awkward finger pattern ever attempted. All thumbs, backward thumbs, all index (one or both) even all pinkies, right-handed kids addicted to left hand. I've seen it all. "Fingering," in academic terms, is the art of assigning groups of fingers to groups of notes. In terms of real kids, it can be a privilege or a pain to get a child to understand it. The good news is that I've never seen a child who could not comprehend fingering if given enough latitude to figure it out with proper guidance. You cannot rush this.

Start With Simplicity

Here are the steps I use. You may have to suspend the study of fingering for safer shores if the child puts up resistance, so come back later.

Numbered Keyboard for kids

Start With The Fingers They Offer

Having numbered the keys, choose a song and let the child play it with any fingers they choose. I often mock them gently and get them to laugh at themselves for their silly choices. The point is to foster an awareness of their fingers that they will not have yet until they try piano. I play games of mockery where we try to choose the most ridiculous finger patterns possible. This leads me to reveal the oddest of all, what I call the "Bug Crusher." In this "position," the child plays with the pad of the thumb backwards on the key. All children delight in this game of folly.

Show Them A Five Finger Position

Once they are comically aware of their fingers, I show them the "proper" way to play the fingers, five in a row, starting with the right thumb. We make a game of it. I praise any attempt to gain control over those five midgets that kids seem to have never met before. The point isn't to succeed. The point is to try. This can be difficult especially for the youngest kids.

Use Fingering On A Very Small Section

Choose a small section of a song and try it with fingering. The older the child, the more chance of success with this. Younger kids will fumble, so make a note of it, try to correct it gently, and then move on. "Jingle Bells" is a perfect example of a song that fits naturally within the five fingers. "Mary Had little Lamb", as well.

Attempt To Use Fingering Regularly

If the child accepts it, include fingering in the teaching of songs. If they habitually forget, or choose not to use it, you have to drop the direct study of fingering, and reduce it to the level of a game I call "Five Finger Position Race." In this game, a child is taught the standard C position, right thumb on Middle C. This is easy for any child to find, and play all five keys at once, one finger on each of the five white keys, 1  2  3  4  5 . Next, step back from the piano about six feet (if possible) and offer to "race" the child, the first one to find a C position wins some fabulous prize. Keep winning the game until their brain can come up with a C position in a reasonable time, say, 5 seconds.

Accept It If They Refuse To Use It

You should now have one of two things. You either have a student who accepts fingering and uses it to the best of their current ability, or a student who is at least aware of it but may not be ready to utilize it. Only time will get a child to use fingering. For preschool kids, it may not come naturally at all, or they may use elements of it, but not all of the concepts. Use fingering when the preschool child accepts it. Abandon it for other battles when they resist.

 

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