How to Improve Your Piano Skills with Finger Exercises

If you love to spend your time tickling the ivories (or if your mom makes you), you’ll love this blog post. Whether you’re practically ready to play at Carnegie Hall or you’re better classified as a beginner, the key to becoming the next Bach is practicing, practicing, practicing and doing exercises to improve your skills. Some you should implement into your practice routine (if you haven’t already) include finger strengthening exercises and stretches to improve your range and dexterity and to reduce pain. We’ll share five exercises with you today so you can fly up and down those 88 keys like you never have before.


The basic scales are something you were probably taught on day one of your piano lessons. It’s a simple exercise that can help you improve both your rhythm and finger strength. Mix things up by playing major, minor, and chromatic scales with various rhythm: legato, staccato, alternative, etc. This is an easy exercise you can quickly fit into each practice.

Finger Strengthening Game

This one is actually a bit of a game designed to help children strengthen their fingers, but it’s really a good exercise for pianists of all ages and skill levels. It’s called “Don’t Wake Mr. Pointer!” Start with your hand in C position and press down on all of the keys at once. While keeping the rest of your fingers pressed down on the keys, lift one finger at a time and gently tap the key three times. Since Mr. Pointer (the index finger) is “sleeping,” the objective is to keep that finger pressed against the key during the entire exercise.

Purchase a Techniques Book 

Two great options are Czerny and Hanon. These books offer a variety of exercises designed to improve accuracy and speed and promote finger strength, flexibility, and independence. Doing the exercises each day can help you improve your finger dexterity, and ultimately, your craft. Czerny is more challenging than early Hanon books, so take your skill level into account when choosing a book.

Fourth and Fifth Finger Trill 

The fourth and fifth fingers are the weakest, so learning to strengthen them and make them more independent (meaning each finger works independently of one another) is crucial to any pianist’s success. The first three fingers (thumb, index, and middle) can either be holding a note or not while you perform this exercise. Add some variety and do a few repetitions both ways. Then perform a slow trill (alternating between two adjacent notes) with the fourth and fifth fingers. It’s more difficult than it sounds!

Finger Stretches

Of course, the first thing you should always do the moment you sit down on the piano bench is warm up your hands. Just like with sports, not stretching properly can lead to injuries and pain. Open and close each hand into a fist and squeeze for a few seconds. Bend each finger individually (but not to the point that it hurts). Do this until your hands feel loose and ready to play.

Sometimes the finger drills and all the practicing might seem tedious, but the ability to bless the world with beautiful piano music is a gift you shouldn’t take for granted. Continuing to improve your dexterity, accuracy, and finger strength can help take your playing to the next level. If you’re dealing with an overuse injury from laying down too many sonatas or you’ve experienced a hand injury that makes it difficult for you to play, we’re here for you. Happy playing!

If you’re dealing with a hand condition that causes pain or makes it difficult to use your hands, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your hand health is our priority—and it should be yours as well! We’ll work with you to find a personalized treatment plan so you can get back to doing the things you love most (like mastering Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit). To stay up-to-date on everything happening at HSST, make sure to follow us on Facebook. Our hands heal yours!