Casual to Confident Piano Player

Major 5 Finger Patterns and How to Use Them for Beautiful Technique

revolutionary technique methods Feb 14, 2023
piano exercises for beginners

Major five-finger patterns are one of my favorite exercises to use at the piano they are so versatile and with major five-finger patterns you can really hone in on specific concepts and adapt the exercise to work on those concepts.

Personally, I don't really assign technical exercises a lot; I know it's controversial.

The main reason is that oftentimes people think that technical exercises in and of themselves will solve their problems at the piano. That's simply not true because, unless you really know the purpose of the technical exercise, practicing technical exercises is often a waste of time. So, I use major five-finger patterns way more often than I use Hanon or Czerny.

If you want one exercise that you can practice for about two minutes each day that will strengthen the skills that will support you in your goal of playing beautifully, I'm going to cover three topics that major five-finger patterns are useful for each concept and I'm going to share an exercise that goes along with it.

Moving Around The Piano

The first exercise that I want to share with you is really helpful in getting comfortable moving around the piano.

Oftentimes, if you're in that point of study where you're starting to play more complicated pieces that require large stretches or changing hand position, it can be really challenging to get to the point that feels natural and fluid so this way of using major five-finger patterns is really going to help you with that focus on our wrist floating off the keys and making an arc, landing in the next hand position, and to start very low on the piano. 

You can do this one hand at a time or you can use both hands if five-finger patterns are new to you. 

I would suggest starting with one hand but if they're easy to go with both hands so start on the lowest five-finger patterns that you can find and as soon as you hit that last note you're gonna float off the keys and you're gonna arc your arms up to the next five-finger pattern, an octave above you're gonna do the same thing and then you're gonna arc your hands up to the next five-finger pattern and you're gonna do this going all the way up the piano and all the way down the piano and with that exercise you want to make sure that when you're arching through the air you're taking your time and you're focusing on making that movement very graceful.

You're not rushing and you're also not sliding across the keys because what we're really focusing on here is lifting off of the keys and resetting in a new hand position going to strengthen your visual memory because you're going to have a much stronger sense of where the different octaves are on the piano. 

It's going to strengthen your muscle memory because you're going to be able to feel the distance between those octaves and it's going to strengthen your aural memory because you're going to be hearing what it sounds like to move up and down the keyboard throughout the various octaves. 

Music Theory

The second exercise is going to focus on music theory

The big reason that some aspects of Music Theory are important is that they really just help you to understand patterns in music better and the more that you can understand and identify patterns in music, the easier it's going to be for you to open up a piece of music and be able to play it well faster.

 When you are playing major five-finger patterns on the piano, if you take the bottom note, the middle note, and the top note of a major five-finger pattern that gives you the major chord of that five-finger pattern. So, if I'm playing a C major five-finger pattern, a c d e f g bottom note is C middle note is e top note is G that's a C major chord and any major five-finger pattern can give you that major chord and so as you're practicing the major five-finger patterns go with the extra step play the broken chord. 

So, you play the notes of the chord individually and then you play the notes of the chord blocked but when you're doing this you're not just going to tune out and allow your fingers to do the work you're going to really start to internalize what these chords are and so you're going to say the notes of the five finger pattern out loud, you're going to say the notes of the chord out loud, and then you're going to say the name of the chord.

This is going to really help you start to make the connection between the notes that you're playing on the piano and the theoretical concept of the major five-finger pattern and the major chord. 

It's going to start to help you memorize what some of those chords are and before you know it you're going to have an entire bank of information on chords and major five-finger patterns that you can draw upon at any point. 

You'll also recognize them much faster when you see them in music.


For the third exercise, learn more about it by watching the video below. 

If you want to delve more into major five-finger patterns so that you can go beyond C major, check out this video that teaches you how to make all of the major five-finger patterns on the piano. 

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