11 Effective Piano Fingers Exercises For Beginners

William Cramer by William Cramer | Last Updated: May 16, 2020

You will never be able to play the piano well unless your fingers are positioned properly. Thus, it’s essential that you practice on a regular basis (daily, if possible).

Most beginners think that it’s only important to learn a lot of tunes and songs as soon as possible. They don’t put enough effort into proper playing, which is why a lot of them end up feeling dissatisfied with the whole process.

If your goal is to improve your piano-playing skills, but you don’t know where to start, here are 11 piano fingers exercises to get you up and running.

11 Piano Exercises for Beginners

Covering The Pentascales

This is a very useful exercise, for beginners as well as more experienced players.  The best approach would be to start slow, and then gradually gain speed as you go along.

You should use all five fingers, and use both hands, so that the pattern stays the same. By slowly gaining speed, you will turn into a more confident player. You will be able to master more complicated tasks once your speed become better.

You will also be able to know the difference between flats and sharps, and fine-tune your ear for intricate melodies and harmonies.

Another facet of covering the pentascales is that they can be mastered fairly quickly. If you really want to lay things down as meticulously as possible, you won’t need more than a month to memorize them all.

Start practicing your pentascales as soon as possible.

Piano finger excercises

Playing Scales One After The Other

After mastering the basics, you can move on and start practicing full scales. It is also highly beneficial if you practice preparing your thumb to take over from the index finger, without a break.

This way, your scales will go on being played smoothly, and you will gain proficiency. Again, the most important thing while practicing is accuracy, which means – don’t overdo it.

Take your time and be sure that you’re playing properly – that’s the main thing. Hit all the right notes, and don’t think about speed at this point.

Also, be careful not to hit the adjacent notes simultaneously, as this is a sign of sloppy, unprofessional playing. Speed will come to you gradually, at its own pace.

By playing scales one after the other, you will learn how to move up and down the keyboard with ease. You will also practice keeping proper posture while playing, which is another major side to piano playing.

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Playing Two Notes At A Time

The first two exercises are relatively easy, as they require you to play one note at a time. With this one, things are getting a bit more complicated.

You should practice playing two notes at a time, with two fingers of your choice. Mind you, the thumb should not be skipped, because it serves as an anchor in your guitar playing.

Therefore, be sure to combine your thumb and your middle finger, or index finger, so that you maintain a healthy balance.

play 2 notes at a time

While playing two notes like this, you should also make sure that other fingers (not engaged in playing) are relaxed. This way, they won’t interact with the “playing” fingers in any way, and you’ll play clearly.

Most piano players have a problem with the little finger, because it constantly tries to interact with the others. Be sure to control it, and try to move it only when you’re playing with it.

Drummers separate the use of the left and right hand, not allowing them to get into each other’s way. You also should make sure that each of your fingers is acting separately upon the keyboard.

Playing Legato

Legato is a very interesting type of playing, more suitable for experienced pianists. However, it is extremely useful to practice your playing through this technique.

It will enable you to master your instrument more quickly and develop a stronger grasp.

Basically, you should play notes so that each note blends with the one you’re playing next. If, for example, we start from the thumb, it means that you should play a note with your thumb.

Then, play a note with your index finger without releasing your thumb, so that the two notes overlap. Following this, you play a note with your middle finger before releasing your index finger from the previously played note, and so on.

This exercise is excellent for two reasons.

First, you will train your ear and become more aware of the music you’re producing.

Second, you will control the notes much better, because you will develop a stringer sense of one note’s “lifespan”.

Once you master the art of legato, the road to piano proficiency will be a lot smoother.

Locking Finger Positions

You don’t want your fingers running around without a fixed position. Before actually playing, be sure to prepare your fingers.

Pay special attention to the relation between your fingertips and the knuckles. Each time you start playing, your finger positions have to be the same. Otherwise, you’re not doing it right.

There should be no arm weight upon your hands or fingers – they have to remain light and unattached to anything.

Also, there should be no tension in your wrists, palms or knuckles. This may take a while to sink in, but it’s very important that you maintain locked finger positions throughout your playing.

Expect that it doesn’t take shape after a day or two, but give it enough time and it will yield. Remember, there is no proper piano playing without locked finger positions, so be sure to master this early on.

piano fingers position

Source: playpianoeasy.weebly.com

Break Up Into Shorter Time Slots

When starting out, heavy practice can seem difficult, even impossible. Therefore, a good approach would be to start small, so that that you don’t “overpractice” yourself.

Instead of practicing for one hour, or half an hour at times, try working much less. In the beginning, it will be more than enough to practice for ten to fifteen minutes, and then gradually increase your practice time.

Instead of having one practice sit per day, break up your practice time into several smaller ones. By doing this, you will remove the strain from the fingers and hands, plus – you will have more time to “teach” the brain this new skill.

Our brain functions much better by having a skill repeated over and over again, as opposed to one fixed practice time. Allow it enough time to learn all there is to a new skill, by training it multiple times per day.

A good practice time would include three to five practice slots per day.

Record Yourself With A Webcam

Before you perform in public, this is a good way to make sure that your posture and finger positions are good.

Yes, it may seem to you that your fingers are in the right position, but you cannot see it properly unless you have a “fresh pair of eyes” to help you out.

While practicing, you can record yourself with a webcam, or your cell phone, and look at how you’re playing.

Record yourself playing piano

Pay special attention to your posture and your finger position – both are important. It is much easier, and much more useful, to observe your playing through a video clip.

This way, you will notice your problems in playing faster, and you’ll be able to remove them quickly. You can even make this an ongoing practice – record yourself for a one-month period, and track your progress.

Start Every Exercise Way, Way Slow

The worst thing to do while playing is to rush things. You’re not competing with anyone but yourself – so, don’t rush it.

Therefore, start every exercise as slow as possible, and increase speed as you go along. If you practice the pentascales, you will get too confused by playing fast.

One note at a time is the best way to go. Moreover, rushing it can cause you even more problems.

If you’re a beginner, your hands and fingers are not yet fully “developed” for proper piano playing. By trying to play too fast right from the start, you may put too much strain on your fingers, which will actually hinder your playing.

Just be sure to start slow, paying attention to every note, and don’t think about how slow and tiresome your playing seems. It only seems tiresome and slow – actually, you’re laying the groundwork for proper piano playing.

Practice Different Key Press

This can also be extremely useful, especially when starting out. Depending on the piece of music you’re playing, or a specific style you’re into, the way you press the keys will be much different.

Think closely about what you want to play, because that will determine the way you play certain notes. It’s not the same playing smooth jazz and classical music.

A good approach would be to play a couple of scales, and then move on to chords and chord progressions. Start playing a scale as gently as possible, by barely touching the keys.

This way, you will loosen up the fingers and develop a better sense of the keys. Then, you can slowly put more stress onto each note you play, to develop your stronger “grip” of the keys.

Finally, practice by pressing the keys with a lot of stress, almost like nailing them to the keyboard. By covering all of these steps, you will better understand your instruments and its manifold possibilities.

Piano finger exercises for beginner

Play Is Pairs

Yes, this may sound odd, but it’s actually extremely helpful. One of the best ways to develop playing is by having a band, or playing with another person as often as possible.

You can do this by playing on one piano, together, or on two instruments. You can exchange tricks and “licks”, thus enriching each other’s performance.

However, the most important thing is to track each other’s progress, and offer advice along the way. Ideally, your playing companion should be on the same level, music-wise, but it’s not required.

What is important, by the way, is that you continually track down even the slightest of changes and improvements in your playing. Start off by playing simple scales and harmonies, and then move on to more complicated pieces.

Mind you, this is not the same as having a tutor, or a music teacher -that’s something completely different. By having a playing companion, you actually enable yourself to loosen up and get comfortable playing in front of someone else.

In turn, this will help you lose any sign of stage fright and empower you to face the audience.

​Combine The Exercises

Now, this may not technically qualify as an exercise, but it’s definitely a part of the whole package. If you’re starting out, it’s fairly easy to get bored, or overwhelmed with the tedious exercises.

combine exercises

In order to avoid this, the best approach is to combine the aforementioned exercises, instead of focusing solely on one.

We mentioned how it’s useful to create time slots for your practice – well, in these time slots, you can place different exercise every time.

Remember, there is no such thing as a finished exercise. Just because a certain exercise is simple doesn’t mean you should dismiss it once you master it.

All the greatest piano players still practice the basics, not shying away from simple exercises. By swapping between exercises, you will slowly master the art of piano playing and have the craft covered.

Related: How To Learn Piano Keys Without Actually Learning All Of Them


These 11 piano finger exercises will definitely help you become a better piano player, but you have to put in the required amount of time, persistence and hard work.

The most important thing to remember is that nothing good comes over night, especially if your goal is to be the best in the field.

Therefore, put in your best effort and settle for nothing but the best. There are more tips and tricks to come, just be sure to practice daily and follow the advice offered.

Once you become a good player, you may even think of some new exercises that will add up to the whole catalog.

William Cramer, the founder of Fire Inside Music, started to learn music in 2012 with a piano. He has continued to level-up his playing skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other beginners. He launched Fire Inside Music in 2017 to make playing music more approachable for everyone looking to master a musical instrument.