Teaching Firm Finger Tips in Piano Lessons


This summer, I started teaching my younger boys how to play the piano. I regretted that I waited too long. Late last year, I taught my 15 year old boy and he responded very well. Last week, I started teaching my 13 year old boy and he was too rigid. His fingers are not cooperating. But, he is persevering in his practice time though it is frustrating to hear him. Two days ago, I began teaching my 11 year old. He was patient and typical.

Today, I like to share my experience teaching my 5 year old boy. I started last week. I made many attempts to teach him last year but I was the one not ready to go back to the teaching game. Life was stressful after the cancer diagnosis of my mother and going to Canada to take care of my 104 grandma in her last months.

Last year, I was having a challenging time with my homeschooling efforts. My 15 year old is blatantly uncooperative. I prayed hard about it and discerned that God wants me to use “music and piano lessons” to get him back on track. I run this idea with my spiritual director and did not get any clear cut directive both negative and positive. So, I put this insight into action. I taught him lovingly and with patience. This was the turning point in our “mother-son” relationship. Since that point, he mellowed down in disobedience. He was more eager to respect me and let me be a mother.

Why I waited so long to teach the rest of the kids is beyond me.

I noticed that my 5 year old does not have any problems with his rhythm. He can clap the notes in good timing. He knows his finger numbers. I noticed though that he does not have the muscle support to form his tiny hands in a rounded-hand shape position. His fingers were flat on the keys and the hand seems to be not even strong enough to keep it up for a long time. He was pressing on the keys.

I taught a 4 year old many times and really, I forgot that yes, most of the time, this is normal in the first few lessons. Since, this is my kid, my heart melted and thought that piano playing might not be for him. I was frustrated because I was supporting his wrist in our first few lessons. I kept praying “Lord, grant me patience.”

My dilemma was to wait awhile and resume a few months down. However, I decided to keep going and ignore this.

Yesterday, I started working on letting him know what is the difference between firm fingertips and flat fingertips on the keys. He seems to understand the difference but still he forgets when he is too focused on the notes. But, today, I took the chance and just worked on letting him understand “firm fingertips” for each note that he was playing. I used the word “your finger is wobbly or wobbling. We want it firm and strong.”

Firm Finger Tips – your piano student’s goal

Wobbly Finger Tips

This was my chance to bring back to his attention the 3rd technique in piano secrets from the Piano Adventure Primer Techniques and Artistry book called “Making O’s.” For those unfamiliar with this piano methodology. Faber, the author, uses the example of “making a letter O with your fingers”. Visualize making your thumb and pointer finger together making a letter O. Do you see your finger tip and how it is curved and pointy on the first knuckle? This is a very important technique because once the child gets it, the whole hand lifts up with the wrist.

So each time, his finger wobbles, I tell it to him and tries to make it firm until he realized that it is not really that difficult to make it firm.

We accomplish firm finger tips technique today. And, boy, was he happy. He told his brother practicing piano in another room “I did it! I did it!”

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