This is the #1 best piano exercise for beginners. Its the piano technique that leads to all other piano techniques, and all beginners should really learn how to do it.
It’s that one fundamental exercise everyone should know. When I started using this drill, it fundamentally changed the way I played. It was the first and most important piano technique I learned in college.
THE #1 PIANO EXERCISE FOR BEGINNERS: STEP-BY-STEP
STEP 1: THE FLOP
Hold your right wrist with your left hand. Now let your right arm go completely dead, 100% relaxed so that your left arm is holding ALL the weight of your right arm. Now use your left arm to lift your right hand slightly, then drop it and let it “flop” onto the keys.
You’ll feel your arm wanting to tense up once it starts falling. Don’t let it! It’s a natural reaction your body has but you have to overcome and let your dead arm weight hit the keys. It’s how you learn the complete relaxation feel.
This is going to feel weird. Strange. Awkward. But I promise you it works.
STEP 2: THE CATCH
Now you’re going to do the same thing as step one, except this time you’re going to “catch” the fall of your right hand by playing a note with your 3rd finger. Your wrist will fall below the keyboard and roll towards the outside. Don’t let your finger “collapse”, make sure it stays curved downwards.
Repeat this on all your fingers. Your pinkie will be tough because it’s the weakest finger, so you may have to drop from a lower height.
STEP 3: HAND INDEPENDENCE
Wrist flop exerciseOk, now repeat step 2, but don’t use your left hand. So put your right hand over the keys, lift slightly, and then let your arm go “dead” and drop it. Catch it with your 3rd finger and roll your wrist down and to the outside.
Without your left hand there to help you, it can be tough to truly let go and let gravity take over. You have to really focus on NOT using your muscles to push down, only use gravity to pull your fingers into the keys. Repeat this step with all your fingers.
STEP 4: PLAYING CHORDS
Now repeat step 4, but this time catch your arm weight with 3 or 4 of your fingers to form a chord. Really roll your wrist and elbow to the outside. Think of your arm as a heavy rope, and just let it drop.
Listen to the tone too. Work on getting that nice, warm, round, beautiful tone. This tone is one of the subtle things that separates good and great pianists. Its that tone that makes you good, and people won’t even know why. They’ll just think “I really like his/her style” without even realizing it was the tone you created that made them feel like that.
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