Piano Fingering

Many beginning and intermediate piano students struggle with piano fingering. I often see students use awkward fingering when playing the piano. Our fingers are of different lengths; thumbs are shorter than other fingers. Generally speaking, the thumb is the strongest finger of all. The thumb, index finger (2nd) and middle finger (3rd) are used the most for piano playing. The fourth finger is the weakest and least used. Following are some tips on how to play piano with correct fingering.

1. Restrict the usage of thumb on black keys. You may consider using thumb on black keys when the following occurs:

  • Playing a piece that has all black notes
  • Playing chords with all black notes, for example: Gb major chord or F# piano chord.
  • Playing chords with black and white notes, and the lower note happens to be black note.

The fingers most used to play black notes are the 2nd and 3rd fingers.

2. When playing the melody with the right hand and some keys are out of reach, you may move the whole hand to play the note. If the key is only a couple of steps down from the thumb, you may use the thumb as an anchor and cross the second finger over to reach the note on the left side of the thumb. You do not need to move the hand. Just move the second finger over. Once the second finger plays the key, the thumb will cross over to play the other note to the left of the key.

Suggestion: Practice the piano scales often to know what finger to use.

3. The same rule applies to the left hand.

4. Watch other experienced pianists whenever possible, look at their fingering and imitate their movements.

Yoke Wong highly recommends the piano lessons on hands and fingering exercises .