Acquire agility in playing piano songs by overcoming the sympathetic fingers movements through strengthening exercises focusing on the fourth and fifth fingers.
The path I chose to take in pursuing the life I wished to live has been an off-beaten one. I took piano lessons when I was 29 years old, when my friends were focused on building their careers and starting a family. While the jury is still out on whether I made the right decision, these past few weeks being under orders to stay indoors, I felt lucky that I possess the know-how to make music and in a corner of my bedroom sat and upright Yamaha piano.
When I began lessons, all I wanted was to be able to play piano songs. But that simple goal was accomplished almost immediately, I found out I could do more and there was a lot more in music to accomplish. Piano music opened a whole new world for me to explore. It is an instrument through which I could connect with another human being. We may not speak the same language and live thousands of miles apart but I have been able to make connections through the simple act of playing the piano. And on the opposite end have been deeply inspired by another’s performance.
There are many factors that influence the effectiveness of a piano performance, enough for it to be deeply inspiring. Agile fingers are one of them. Playing with fingers that make light, clear touch force the piano to sing with sweetness.
How to acquire agile fingers?
Before the fingers can become agile, there is such a thing known as the sympathetic fingers that you shall need to overcome. Because piano playing is an action-packed undertaking during which many tasks are taking place such as those by fingers, hands, arms and feet, stress in the mind and body is always present.
When pressing a key on the piano the body’s application of pressure on the finger causes adrenaline to be released resulting in the muscles of the other fingers nearby to be involuntarily recruited into pressing the key as well – a condition known as sympathetic fingers movement. This leads to the unwelcomed fingers pressing on nearby keys that are not supposed to be played.
The sympathetic finger movement can be subdued by building independence in the fingers. Usually it is the 4th and 5th that are most affected.
Make them stronger to get the agile fingers you desire. Exercises that strengthen the fingers are aplenty. I use Hanon’s and Czerny’s exercises regularly and do feel they are effective, but there are simpler exercises you can practise with anytime and anywhere without the aid of a sheet music to look at.
Positioning the right hand with the thumb on middle C, press D using the second finger and hold it down. While doing so, play the other notes around it as in; C with the thumb, E with the middle finger, F with the fourth finger and G with the fifth finger one at a time.
Next challenge yourself a bit by pressing and holding down the keys of C, D and G each with the thumb, second and fifth finger and while doing so play E and F one at a time using the middle and fourth finger.
Mimicking the above exercise, position the left hand’s fifth finger on C. It can be any C to the left of middle C so that the left hand can reach it easily. Press D using the fourth finger and hold it down. While doing so, play the other notes around it as in; C with the fifth finger, E with the middle finger, F with the second finger and G with the thumb one at a time.
Then try to press and hold down the keys of G, F and E each with the thumb, second and third finger and while doing so play D and C, one at a time each using the fourth and fifth finger.
Later, after you are proficient enough practicing with single hands, practice them hands together and witness how agility begins to be seen in the fingers.