This series of Piano Basics is intended for parents to help their beginning piano students practice.  For parents who do not have know background in music, these posts will help you understand what your child is working on at the piano.  Check out all of the posts in this series to learn the basics.

One of the first things a piano student learns is how to number their fingers.

In both hands, thumbs are number 1, and you count outwards to your little fingers.

This is pretty easy to catch on to, but occasionally a young student who is just learning to read, will number their fingers from left to right in both hands.

You can see how this becomes a problem.  The right hand is correct, but the left hand is backwards.  Many of the very first songs in method books label notes using finger numbers only.  A student who has numbered their left hand from left to right will end up playing the left hand notes “upside down”.

Also, take note that in music, the left hand is abbriviated, LH, and the right hand is RH.

Parents, remind your student, “thumbs are 1”.  Also, reinforce this concept away from the piano.  While you’re waiting in line or riding in the car, ask your student to number their piano fingers.

Teachers, share your favorite tips for helping students keep their finger numbers straight!

Read more about piano basics here:

Finding your way around the keyboard

The very first “song” students learn on the white keys


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  1. One of the sayings we use in our studio is “Thumbs up! Number 1!” We also trace the student’s hands and create a drawing where they can color and number their fingers – then we paste it into their assignment book for reference. Sometimes it helps to keep that drawing visible during the lesson when we learn new songs.

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