Introduction: How to Improve Your Right Hand Playing
Although this lesson is specific to everyone, those that are left-handed are going to perhaps benefit the most.
I bet you can guess why...for most of us, the strongest hand is the one that we use the most and identify ourselves with. We say that we're either right-handed or left-handed.
If you are right-handed, brushing your teeth with your left hand takes at least twice as long as is a little messier! This is because your left hand is weaker and isn't used to being used as much for everyday activities.
There are some easy things that you can do to strengthen your right and so it is just as strong as your left hand and you'll be able to play equally strong and good with both hands on your keyboard.
Let's look at a simple exercise that I highly recommend for everyone to use, even those that are right-handed, as it will really help to increase your strength and flexibility in that right hand.
I've divided the whole exercise down into a few separate sections just to show you the changes and then I'll play the whole thing through for you in the video at the end of this lesson.
Let's get started.
Step 1: Right-Hand Exercise
Our exercise is very easy so you won't have to worry about learning any hard notes or rhythms.
The first thing that I want you to see is my hand position in the image above. Notice how my thumb is over Middle C and the rest of my fingers cover the consecutive keys up through G. This is called a five-finger pattern which you probably already know.
Once you have your hand set up in this position, you're set for the whole exercise.
Before we start, take a look at the left hand. It's very very easy...you won't have any trouble playing this and it's easy so you can put most of your focus into your right hand work.
This first section sets you up with easy quarter notes for each beat in the first couple of measures. Also, the notes are played in consecutive order so there won't be any skips.
Play these quarter note exercises several times to get your fingers going at an even tempo with steady movements.
OK...next, we'll play this with eighth notes.
Step 2: Same Notes - Different Rhythm
Everything is the same here except for...the note values.
Here, you are playing eighth notes instead of quarter notes. Notice that?
In the first image, the 8th notes are just one after the other but in the second image you can see that they are repeated, which adds in a trickier element when you start doing the repeated notes between your 4th and 5th fingers. You'll see what I mean! ,
When you play through these the first few times at your piano, make sure you go back and review the previous step before moving on to the next one...just to make sure you've got it.
Next, we're going to play these same notes but in chords. Time to use more than one finger at a time!
Step 3: Same Notes - Chords/Thirds
The first thing that I want you to notice in the images are the fingerings for each chord. It's important to learn and play these fingerings because otherwise, you'll run out of fingers trying to play with a scale-like finger pattern.
We're going to be playing 3rds in this exercise section - which means you'll put down two fingers that have a note in between them. Notice that for a C major 3rd, your thumb is on C and your 3rd finger is on E; skipping the D that is between the C & E.
Just like with our single note exercises - start with quarter note chords and then move onto the 8th note chords. Don't play at a tempo that is faster than you can play the notes correctly and at a steady tempo.
Now we're going to play broken chords or arpeggios as a final way to really strengthen your right hand.
Step 4: Same Notes - Arpeggio
An arpeggio is simply a chord played with single notes. They can be played fast or slow, and in this case, we're going to start out playing them slowly.
Pay close attention to the fingerings again as you make your way through this section the first few times. The fingerings are just as important as the notes. Some of the fingerings may be similar to chord progressions that you have already learned, but they are different here as we actually spread our hands out to play all of the notes.
This section makes you work your hand and fingers while you are skipping notes and moving over more of the keyboard itself than before.
Step 5: How to Practice This Exercise
Take one hand at a time.
You already know that the point of the exercise is to give your right hand a workout, so much of your time may be well spent working on the right hand.
The left hand is easy with all whole notes, but it does add in another level of challenge and will require extra focus in the beginning.
Then, play both hands together. Don't worry about any mishaps the first few times...just let your hands get used to playing the notes and rhythms together. Once you have done this, then slow down so you can focus on any sections that you're having difficulty with.
Give this at least a month to really see an increase in your right-hand abilities. This means that you will want to practice this exercise daily - as many days a week that you can, for a month.
What is really fun to do at this point is go back and find a piece that you were having trouble with the right hand in, and try playing it again. Even if every note isn't perfect, you are really going to enjoy how much more you can than before you started this month long work out.
And think about this...that was just one month! Think about how it will be after a year of steady, productive practicing!
Now let's put all of this to practical use and play through all of these at our keyboards.
Step 6: Come Practice With Me
The benefit of including these videos at the end of each lesson is so that you can see me go through everything at the piano, not just read the information. You can always come back to it anytime you are practicing if you have a question about something as well.
I do play each one of these different sections with my right hand on the piano. You can see how slowly I play each one to give you an example of a good tempo to start with. I'll also go through the entire exercise from start to finish and you'll have to watch and see which one was the most challenging for me! *I bet it's the same one that will challenge you the most too!
One of the best ways to use this video in your practice time is to stop it at the end of each section of the exercise and play that section several times to make sure you understand it and are playing it correctly. Then move on to the next section.
Don't forget to work this particular exercise for at least a month to really see some great results and keep this type of workout going in your daily practicing even after that.