Finger exercises are a very important part of learning to play the piano but as they need to be played regularly, they can become boring. Once kids have mastered the correct hand position, there are a whole host of finger exercises that they can do, both to strengthen the fingers and practice the correct hand position.
Here’s a great little spooky finger exercise that comes in handy on the build up to Halloween. This one is lots of fun with its creeping up and jumpy surprises. It’s quick and easy to pick up and an excellent lesson for beginners technique and introduction to music theory.
Scroll to the bottom of the post to download the free sheet music for this spooky finger exercise.
Start off by looking at the music together and discussing what you see on the sheet music. Are there any new musical symbols? New fingering positions? Are there any accidentals? Look at each new musical sign shown below the sheet music and ask the child to spot where it can be found in the music. First identify it and then demonstrate and explain the meaning and how it should sound.
Tip, Toe Boo Spooky Finger Exercises – Right Hand
- Starting with the right hand, place it correctly with 1 (thumb) on middle C.
- Play the first 3 bar phrase, taking care to observe the rests after each staccato crotchet. A staccato sound is made when the finger leaves the key without sustaining any sound. The faster the finger comes off the key, the better. It should sound short and sharp.
- Keep the body still so that the movement is coming from the fingers and wrist more than the arm and shoulder. Big movements will only slow the sound down.
- Now play the accented semibreve with a sudden, attack. This should be heavier than the staccato notes so that it makes everyone jump! It is a long semibreve (whole note), so you will need to hold the note down. You will find that the sound fads sooner because of the abrupt attack.
- It’s important to stress that these little marks are the icing on the cake,and open to a little artistic license. They aren’t exactly a precise science, but you should think of them as tools to add atmosphere and colour. So, in this case, the spookier the better.
- The last dynamic effect to add is the crescendo indicated by the horizontal hairpin. This makes it easy to explain, because it starts small (soft and light) and gets gradually bigger (loud and heavy). This can take a bit of practice as it requires more control. Remember this time it is a gradual increase in sound, rather than sudden.
- Work through the rest of the right hand in the same way. This should be easier now the signs and markings are familiar.
- When the right hand has been mastered, switch your focus to the left hand.
- Special attention should be paid to the position of the left hand which may be new for beginners. This is a good opportunity to learn a new note of the bass clef. They might find it a little daunting at first, but as it is so repetitive, they soon see that it is much easier than they thought!
- Place the left hand with 5 (little finger) on the bottom A. On the music this is the bottom space of the stave.
- Play the first 3 bars paying particular attention to the rests and markings, just like before.
- The next 3 bars start with the 4th finger not the 5th. They have a downward jump of a 5th from 1 – 5 on E – A.
- The next 6 bars are just a repeat of the first 6.
Tip, Toe Boo – Hands Together
- Once they can confidently play the left hand it is time to attempt hands together.
- Explain that in this exercise, the hands take turns to play the staccato notes. This starts with the right and then the left follows, taking turns as they go.
- Students usually find the ascending crotchets (half notes) quite easy to master. They might need to think ahead and be ready for both hands to find and play the long E with confidence and attack on the beat.
- As with all finger exercises, lots of repetition is required to fully master them and enjoy the benefits. In time this will improve finger dexterity and strength, increasing control and building a sound technique.
- Once they are playing both hands together, it is a challenge to remember to observe all the markings, but that is the point! Practice always makes perfect!