3/30/10

Piano Teaching Q&A: Curve Those Fingers!

Each week we will be featuring questions asked by our readers, and will do our best to answer them and to give some ideas :) We have had some wonderful questions that will be addressed in the next few weeks' topics. So, this week instead of answering a question, I'd actually like to submit a question to all of you

Here is my question: How do you reinforce the concept of playing with nice, curved fingers and help your young students to actually make it a habit? I have a seven-year-old boy that I teach who constantly forgets, and plays with flat fingers and collapsed knuckles. When I remind him, he fixes it immediately and plays with a great hand position. But after a few minutes he forgets and goes flat again!

yes those are the lovely curved fingers of Janina & yours truly.
So anyway, I'm afraid I sound like a broken record to this kid because I keep on reminding him over and over to "curve those fingers!" Any brilliant ideas to help reinforce this concept in a fun way?

oh and p.s. In case you have wondered, Janina has been SUPER busy as of late with her masters, moving her little family out of state, buying a home, etc. - so that is why she has taken a little "hiatus" - but don't you worry! She will be back! Let's send her some happy *you can do it* vibes her way!!!


If you have a question you'd like to ask us, leave it in a comment or submit it here.

4 comments:

Jentry said...

Whenever I have a student who needs to be constantly reminded of a technique I play "the chip game". You can play with anything (pennies, beads, I play with actual clay poker chips because they are heavier and the kids love to handle them). You place 5 or so chips in the middle and everytime the student plays a section or piece with the correct technique they get the chip, if they don't do it correctly the teacher gets the chip. Whoever has the most chips when they are gone from the middle wins. The student has to decide if they won or not because that is where the learning is taking place. Sometimes with my smallest students I place a stuffed animal on my side so the animal wins instead of me. You want to choose sections small enough so that the student is successful, but still is changing a habit. Then you need to send them home to play the chip game with their parents all week long. This game is great because the students are learning how to self correct and that's what we really want them to achieve.

Jenny Bay said...

Jentry - that's a great idea! I have done similar games to help students perfect sections of pieces, but I never thought about doing it to help them perfect a technique. Thanks for the wonderful idea!

Leanne said...

I believe that it's vitally important to educate the parents (not just the child) about aspects of piano playing (technique, and also posture, practicing, repertoire appreciation, etc.) Making sure that the parents have some understanding of proper piano technique will go a long way to reinforcing the technique at home. Posting pictures/videos on a studio website, printing a brochure for students to take home, and inviting the parents to observe lessons (especially the first few when you are first showing the child how to achieve curved fingers) are all ways that can help to ensure that the parents will be able to reinforce concepts taught in the lessons.

Another thing that I think is helpful for the student is to take a video or photo of their hands while they're playing. Some students may believe they're playing with curved fingers, but once they see the video, will realize they're not.

Jenny Bay said...

Leanne, that is an excellent point and some awesome ideas! I love the idea about posting pictures/videos on a studio website, and taking a picture of your student's hands. Thanks!

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