Monday Mailbag – Using Games to Teach Piano Technique

I am a student teacher and would like some tips on teaching technique via games. I have a 7-year-old student who is struggling with “keeping fingertips tall” and “keeping a rounded hand shape”. I find technique drills are not working and I hate to make technique seem like the enemy. Do you have any games that you have used to re-enforce the concept in a fun way?

As much as I love to use games as a teaching tool, I confess that I’ve hardly ever used them for technique purposes. Instead, I use more of an understanding-based approach when working with students on technique principles. From early on, I explain scientific principles of gravity, strength, and conduction to students to help them understand why they should keep their wrists up, fingers rounded, shoulders relaxed, etc. You can read a post I wrote on Finger Strengthening here.

I also still use my goofy thumb position image poster to show students how to play with their thumb in the “slide position.” The Beyond Scales and Hanon sessions I’ve attended by Beth Grace have also been invaluable in helping me understand proper and injury-preventative piano technique so that I can model it for my students and direct them accordingly no matter what repertoire they are playing.

Most of my  5 for Fun! games and activities for the private piano lesson are theory-based rather than technique-based, so I would love to hear from other teachers on this topic. Do you use any games that have proven particularly effective in helping students learn and implement good piano technique?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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