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Strengthen fingers and finger exercises #2988395 05/06/19 10:20 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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So, I have been learning too play Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi, and my right hand becomes sore after awhile, mainly since I have not played regularly too keep them in shape. I was wondering if anyone had any tips for working to strengthen them. Playing the right hand chords on this tune really stretches out my fingers. Never played like this before?


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988396 05/06/19 10:31 PM
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Hanons. Been doing them regularly for over 50 years and Iím only about halfway through the book. They work for me.


I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: stillearning] #2988401 05/06/19 10:52 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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Thank You!


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988411 05/06/19 11:48 PM
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What part is sore? When I am sore I let the hands rest a few days or until the soreness is gone. If you don't you are asking for trouble. Then I gradually begin playing again. You have to be careful building up endurance. It's a slow process over weeks and months. Eventfully with practice the strength gradually will come.
I don't recommend Hanon, I recommend your actual repertoire and your chord outlines and scales descending from the 7th degree.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988413 05/06/19 11:52 PM
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Scales in tenths, sixths, and thirds. Including the diminished scale.

Bach's Sinfonie (Three-Part Inventions) and any other of his music you can read, even if not perfectly.

Every day.

Obviously, it won't strengthen your fingers, what with the whole lack of muscles in the hand, but I find it a satisfying regimen for keeping fluency and looking for problems in technique.

For stretching to reach large chords? I don't know. I suppose you could make up some exercises based on octaves in the RH, perhaps extracted from various pieces of Brahms, or just scales in octaves.

It may not be possible if you have a smaller reach, so maybe just divide the larger chords between the two hands or omit some notes.

As a recent tendonitis between fingers 2 and 3 in LH sufferer (now mostly cured after weeks of taping the two fingers together for most non-keyboard tasks), I wouldn't think you'd want to stretch too adamantly or vigorously.

But the "web" between 1 and 2 in both hands does IME stand up to some stretching pretty well to reach LH and RH tenths, with or without whatever other notes you can safely include.

Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Jazz+] #2988417 05/07/19 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted By: Jazz+
...I don't recommend Hanon, I recommend your actual repertoire and your chord outlines and scales descending from the 7th degree.

Just curious why you would recommend against Hanon exercises... Iíve always felt that doing the very thing causing discomfort, ie, your actual repertoire, would be less productive than taking a step back and building strength and endurance through exercise.


I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: J_tour] #2988418 05/07/19 01:09 AM
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I do the first five Hanon exercises everyday at three different tempos. A slow one concentrating on perfect tension free technique and evenness of each finger, a medium tempo to get the fingers moving a bit faster and a fast one.

Obviously, if you're just getting back into playing you'll have to slowly work your way up to that. Maybe just 1 or 2 exercises at first and only at slow tempos. Slowly add more speed and more excerscies until you're doing all 5.

The key is to do it everyday and always be tension-free. Tension has no place in piano playing. You should always feel free and relaxed. But in order to be able to do that you must have strong fingers with plenty of endurance and that takes time to build.

I also do the first 3 Dohnyani exercises which really help to transform your hands, especially the weaker fingers and greatly improves your finger independence. But these are more advanced so I would wait a while before tackling those or else you'll risk injury.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Jazz+] #2988429 05/07/19 06:36 AM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Jazz+
What part is sore? When I am sore I let the hands rest a few days or until the soreness is gone. If you don't you are asking for trouble. Then I gradually begin playing again. You have to be careful building up endurance. It's a slow process over weeks and months. Eventfully with practice the strength gradually will come.
I don't recommend Hanon, I recommend your actual repertoire and your chord outlines and scales descending from the 7th degree.


Stretching between thumb and pinky. I have never played Jazz before? So, this is a challenge for me. Or trying to play Benny and the Jets by Elton John.


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Ian Benhamou] #2988430 05/07/19 06:37 AM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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I have a hard time reading sheet music.


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988433 05/07/19 07:47 AM
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I would imagine your soreness in right hand is from the interval stretch of m6, p5 and M3 in Linus and Lucy.
That can be tough if you haven't worked on things to open up your hand which I would suggest taking slow to prevent injury. Simple one octave arppegios in Major, minor and diminished. Also parellel harmonic 3rd, 4th intervals.
Might want to massage your hands and fingers before and after.
Go easy. Then try holding down the L and L intervals and relax.

Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: re Pete] #2988443 05/07/19 08:52 AM
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Yes it is! thank you Pete!


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988448 05/07/19 10:04 AM
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I donít think Hanon is a good place to start unless you have done closed position 5 finger exercises first.
My suggestion is to do 5 finger exercises in mirror image starting on the thumb.
12345432 in major (c,d,e,f,g,f,e,d)
12345432 in minor (switch e to e flat)
12345432 in diminished (switch g to g flat)
then up to d flat major
go thru all 12 keys chromatically ascending then descending

start slowly 40 bpm every 4 notes or slower

the slowest tempo will take you 8-10 minutes
gradually increase till you are able to double it and get thru the cycle in 5 minutes

For wider intervals thereís a Brahms exercise from the set of 51 (I think its number 8:

d,c,e,g,b,c,g,e
d-flat,c,e,g,b,c,g,e
go up diatonically repeating each pattern 4 times

that takes care of your wider intervals.

do your scales 1 octave using the fingering 12341234, then ascend chromatically

that takes care of your scales.

thats all the technical exercise you need for a good long while.

as far as Linus and Lucy, block out the intervals, getting your hand used to those shapes.

work slowly and carefully, snails pace is good, be meditative in your practicing, enjoy the feeling of slowly working and building.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: jimkost2002] #2988453 05/07/19 10:39 AM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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Thank you Jim!


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988455 05/07/19 10:49 AM
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you're welcome, Paul!


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: jimkost2002] #2988456 05/07/19 10:54 AM
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Suggestions for Ďfinger exercises Ď...

1. Stop thinking of this as a strength exercise.
2. Instead think of it as a training exercise. You are training your fingers to work with your musical mind. And developing both together. Musically.
3. Do the exercises in all keys.
4. Put your fingers down on all five keys of each position in each key.
5. Actively track in your mind what key you are in, what position in that key you are in, and what each of the notes are.
6. Before you press a key tell yourself what note it is and sing it to yourself.
7. While in the first position of the exercise let your fingers and mind get used to it before you jump to the next position.
8. In each position use your active mind to watch and feel your fingers . The goal is to have your fingers perform what and only what your musical mind wants to do.
9. Always, always play musically.

Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: PianoMan51] #2988457 05/07/19 10:58 AM
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The first 20 Hanons are what I do. I do them in C, G, and am almost through them in the key of F. It helps my soloing. I like chop building exercises myself. A jazz pianist I know said he would rather work at actual music to build strength. It's hard to practice and take lessons when you are older. That's my problem....getting the time. Music takes a ton of time when you get to higher levels.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Ian Benhamou] #2988488 05/07/19 12:34 PM
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My piano tutor also has me playing the Hanon excercises dotted. First note dotted, and then second note dotted. I think slower is much more taxing than fast.

Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: TommyTV] #2988493 05/07/19 12:43 PM
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A three finger excercise I learnt as a child was to play individual notes, start with middle finger on c, then ring finger on d, finally little finger on e. Then up a tone, middle on d, ring finger e, little finger f, and so on. Then the reverse starting at c1, little finger on that, then ring finger on b natural, middle finger on a, and so on descending. Very strenuous at first keeping those notes clear and distinct, but improves ring and little finger strength and dexterity.

Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Outkaster] #2988496 05/07/19 12:56 PM
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Lots a solid advice in this thread.

Linus and Lucy is a tough tune to play, especially if you havenít been playing much. I had a few holiday shows in December where I played it. It took quite a bit a practice before it was presentable.

How many notes are you playing in the right hand chords? I think I played just two notes (i.e., the melody and a harmony note below) and thought it came off well. With two notes I was able to play the melody with a nice legato (which to me is the top priority for playing this tune).

When faced with a technical difficulty I usually create exercises to overcome the difficulty. Mastering it at a slow tempo with no tension is the key.

Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Al Quinn] #2988505 05/07/19 01:42 PM
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Great advice from the KB community!!!


Plan your work & work your plan.
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988509 05/07/19 02:07 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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Thank you too everyone for your tips and advice!


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Al Quinn] #2988511 05/07/19 02:12 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Al Quinn
Lots a solid advice in this thread.

Linus and Lucy is a tough tune to play, especially if you havenít been playing much. I had a few holiday shows in December where I played it. It took quite a bit a practice before it was presentable.

How many notes are you playing in the right hand chords? I think I played just two notes (i.e., the melody and a harmony note below) and thought it came off well. With two notes I was able to play the melody with a nice legato (which to me is the top priority for playing this tune).

When faced with a technical difficulty I usually create exercises to overcome the difficulty. Mastering it at a slow tempo with no tension is the key.


I will agree, it is a hard tune to master. I have been learning the piano part from Motley Crueís Home Sweet Home.

Actually, itís the fact that Linus and Lucy predominantly uses the black keys, and most music I learned or played favored the white keys more. So, itís more of a challenge using only the black keys. Also, I have never had to stretch my hands like this before?


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Al Quinn] #2988521 05/07/19 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted By: Al Quinn
Lots a solid advice in this thread... ...How many notes are you playing in the right hand chords? I think I played just two notes (i.e., the melody and a harmony note below) and thought it came off well. With two notes I was able to play the melody with a nice legato (which to me is the top priority for playing this tune). ..

Agreed, lots of good advice here. And I believe thatís all there is in the right hand throughout most of the song... two notes.

Also, if youíre having trouble with the sretch required with the first few intervals, you can try fingering it: 1-3 1-4 3-5. Maybe not as efficient, but far less of a reach by eliminating the 2-4 stretch on the second interval in the series. Iíve taught this to a few younger players who were quite good, but whose hands were still on the small side, and they used that fingering. Great tune to learn for sure. Excellent for left brain - right brain training.

Last edited by stillearning; 05/07/19 02:58 PM.

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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: stillearning] #2988523 05/07/19 03:02 PM
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The other challenge will be getting the left and right hands together


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Ian Benhamou] #2988540 05/07/19 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted By: Ian Benhamou
I do the first five Hanon exercises everyday at three different tempos. A slow one concentrating on perfect tension free technique and evenness of each finger, a medium tempo to get the fingers moving a bit faster and a fast one.


Ian how do you do these when you are on the road!?


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Bobadeath] #2988541 05/07/19 03:53 PM
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I don't understand why people here recommend various repertoire for strengthening that is not the persons actual repertoire. It's ridiculous to practice Hanon or Bach in order to play Linus and Lucy when you could be training on Linus and Lucy to play Linus and Lucy.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Jazz+] #2988549 05/07/19 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jazz+
I don't understand why people here recommend various repertoire for strengthening that is not the persons actual repertoire. It's ridiculous to practice Hanon or Bach in order to play Linus and Lucy when you could be training on Linus and Lucy to play Linus and Lucy.


Well, there are 2-schools of thought on this. You're obviously in the one that says all you need to do is practice you're repertoire and the technique necessary for that repertoire will be improved.

I disagree with this school of thought completely. Professional athletes don't just get better at their sport by playing it exclusively. They go to the gym and lift weights, they work on their cardio, they train hard on jumping, running, skating skills, etc.

For me, playing the piano is the same. Yes, at the end of the day its about making music, but the beauty of exercises like Hanon or scales or whatever is that they're simple patterns which get repeated over and over again. Hanon, for example, is an 8-note pattern which uses all five fingers in both hands. Not too many passages in any repertoire will give you that kind of a concentrated workout. Also, because it's a repeated pattern, the focus is on your technique instead of what notes or what tricky fingering to use.

In my case, I was badly out of shape as a piano player ever since I finished my music degree 15 years ago because I also thought repertoire was all I needed to be able to play. Then I got asked to audition for The Musical Box and I immediately realized I didn't have my chops in shape to be able to handle it. Saw a piano teacher, he put me on this Hanon and Dohnayani routine. It's been exactly a year almost day to day and my hands have never been in better shape. My finger independence is better than it's ever been, my fourth and fifth fingers are practically as strong as my first 3 in BOTH hands, and best of all by having this agility and strength I've almost completely eliminated all tension from my wrists and forearms. YMMV, but for me it's worked miracles.

And let me be clear, these exercises are only part of my warm-up routine. It takes roughly 20-minutes and then I tackle my repertoire for hours. But the warm-up allows me to practice for hours without getting tired or sore.

Again, YMMV but I think its the best way to go.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Ian Benhamou] #2988550 05/07/19 04:38 PM
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I agree. A lot of training for tournaments I do outside the gym or school.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: Bobadeath] #2988552 05/07/19 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bobadohshe


Ian how do you do these when you are on the road!?


I show up to soundcheck an hour early, plug in my in-ears and run through the exercises for about 20-minutes and then spend the rest of the time running through some of the more difficult passages in the show until soundcheck officially begins.

On days off I don't practice.


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Re: Strengthen fingers and finger exercises [Re: paulkondig] #2988557 05/07/19 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted By: paulkondig
So, I have been learning too play Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi, and my right hand becomes sore after awhile, mainly since I have not played regularly too keep them in shape. I was wondering if anyone had any tips for working to strengthen them. Playing the right hand chords on this tune really stretches out my fingers. Never played like this before?


The OP is not a question about technique. It is about soreness when playing Linus and Lucy because he doesn't play often. Thus, Hanon is not the answer. He doesn't play enough as it is; therefore, he does not have extra time for Hanon if the goal is Linus and Lucy and he is already sore. Hanon will not result in being able to play Linus and Lucy. Healing-resting the soreness, gentle stretching, and slowly working up the target repertoire (Linus and Lucy) is the logical and practical approach to achieve Linus and Lucy without pain.

Hanon is a kneejerk response for everything in the piano world rather than addressing the specific repertoire. It's like telling a ballet dancer to go practice plies, eleves, and battlements when they must actually must learn a set choreographed piece at hand. Hanon is a bit of a brush off response rather than addressing the specific repertoire. I see it ALL the time in the piano teaching world. Have a problem, "go do Hanon"; quite the quick and simple answer isn't it.

Hanon also is all some pianist know from their musical upbringing rather than being inventive enough to instill their own technical drills when needed into their actual repertoire.


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