It’s the week before spring break here, and I noticed right from the start of the week that many of my students already have vacation on the brain. (Not that I blame them – I do too!!) It’s weeks like this that I find myself scratching my head and wondering what has happened to my studio. Before Christmas I could have sworn that everyone forgot what a key signature was. This week I have had student after student ignore where they are supposed to put their hands at the beginning of a piece, then start and wonder why it “sounds funny!!”
Rather than continue the week frustrated, I decided to make up a quick drill to use at the beginning of each elementary student’s lesson that would make them consciously think about their hand position. I made up a set of flashcards that gave students their starting notes and fingers, then had them create a position diagram on my big floor keyboard:
The cards range in difficulty from a single note and finger number to 2-measure excerpts that require placement of both hands, so I could adapt the cards I chose to fit each student’s current level. Once we had done several on the floor, we moved to the piano and raced to see how many positions the student could find in a minute.
It turned out to be just what my students (and my ears) needed! When we opened their books to work on repertoire, everyone carefully placed their hands before starting to play. I have several beginning students who are getting to the place in their method books where the pictured finger diagrams disappear from the page, so I’m looking forward to having this drill handy to use with them.
The flashcards are available for download on the free flashcards page. Pages 1-5 contain the cards, and page 6 has an optional graphic you can print on the backs.