When you’re first learning the piano, your fingers are used to the movements they’re required to make.
This makes it difficult to play faster songs and passages without being off beat or fumbling notes.
But over time you can build up your speed and dexterity to eventually play even the most difficult piano passages.
In this article we’ll talk about how to increase and improve your piano finger speed through intentional focus and specific exercises.
If you really want to dive deep into mastering your hand and finger movements, though, I recommend taking online piano lessons – these video tutorial platforms can help you practice (and therefore improve) more effectively.
Let’s get into what you can do for now…
How to Improve Finger Speed for Piano
Unfortunately, there’s no way around this single fact – you’re going to have to practice. A lot.
That’s really the only way to improve at something – to do it over and over again so many times that you build up muscle memory.
If you try to play a difficult and fast piano piece 100 times (after you’ve initially learned the entire thing), you’ll undoubtedly have it mastered.
So when improving your piano finger speed, just keep putting in those reps and practice hours.
Focus on Playing Technique
One of the most important things about becoming a faster piano player is making sure your playing technique is right.
That means your posture needs to be good – sit up tall, with a straight back on the front half of your chair/bench. Keep your shoulders down and make sure your elbows fall naturally by your sides and your wrists are straight.
Beyond that, make sure you have good piano fingering technique – that you’re playing your scales with correct finger positions.
Making sure you’re a stickler for technique is the best way to prime yourself for faster finger speeds.
Focus on Weaker Fingers More
When you’re practicing exercises for speed and dexterity, make sure you’re practicing your weaker fingers more than your strong fingers.
This will usually be your pinky and ring finger, but also your entire non-dominant hand.
Don’t neglect your strong hand or fingers, but put a little bit of extra focus on the weaker areas of your playing.
Always Use a Metronome
Finally, when we’re talking about speed it only makes musical sense within the context of time and rhythm.
It’s great if you can play super fast, but if you’re not on beat that doesn’t help (or please) anyone.
You need to be fast and on time to be a truly great piano player. So when you’re practicing speed exercises, make sure you’re always doing it with a metronome.
And the trick to using a metronome effectively is to start out very slow before moving to faster and faster BPMs.
When you can play slowly but on perfect time, your sense of rhythm improves drastically. And then when you go to play fast, it translates over.
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Piano Finger Speed Exercises
Now that you have an idea of how to improve your speed, lets go over a couple of exercises that will help you train your fingers for fast execution of tasks on the piano.
Make sure you’re doing both hands for each exercise.
5 Finger Scales
These are two great exercises you can do to help improve your finger work. That’s because you don’t have to focus on hand/finger placement or the notes you’re hitting. As a result, you get to focus on speed.
What you’re going to do is play the first 5 notes of any scale – and it’s recommended you practice these on all of your scales, because it’ll help your overall finger dexterity.
Do these daily for a couple of minutes as part of your practice warmup.
Ups and Downs
The first way to exercise for speed is to play the 5 notes up and down several times.
Start slowly and build up speed as you become comfortable. Remember to use a metronome!
Keep building up speed either by increasing the metronome tempo, or using smaller and smaller note values (ex/ 16th notes).
If you mess up, you have to start from the beginning (i.e. slow) and build back up.
The second way to use the 5 finger scale for improving your speed is to alternate between notes, rather than simply going up and down.
So if you’re working on the C Major scale, for example, you’ll alternate notes between C and D for 1 bar, and then move on to alternating D and E for the next bar. You do this for all 5 notes, up and down the 5 finger scale.
You want to be as smooth as possible, and only hit a note once at a time (ex/ when switching from C/D to D/E, you’ll hit the E note first since you end bar 1 on the D note – don’t double up on notes).
Again, start slow and work up your speed. If you screw up, start from the beginning again.
With arpeggios, you’re basically just breaking up a chord into it’s individual notes and playing them over and over again, upwards and downwards across the whole keyboard.
I recommend starting with seventh chords (4 notes in the chord) in root position – but this can be done with triads, further extensions and even inversions if you wish.
So for example, you’d take the notes of the C Major7 chord and play them individually and sequentially up the keyboard, starting at middle C. (i.e. C, E, G, B, C, E, G, B, C, E, G, B, etc.).
You’d then work your way backwards. Then do the same for your left hand, starting at middle C and working your way down the keyboard and back.
Arpeggios can be tricky because your fingers will need to do some stretching to hit the next notes in the sequence.
So start very slowly and get the accuracy right, before you speed things up.
Playing fast on the piano can seem like an impossible task if your fingers don’t yet have strength and agility.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can absolutely get faster no matter how old you are. All it takes is putting in the work.
Repetition is your friend here, so be sure to do these exercises daily and consistently for a long period of time (I’m talking months, here…).
Make your goal to perform each of those exercises 1000 times and I promise you by the 1000th repetition your piano finger speed will be light years ahead of where it’s at now.
If you really want to level up your piano playing, there’s nothing better than learning your favorite songs. So I highly recommend you try out FlowKey – the best online piano song library around.
Thanks for reading this article on how to improve piano finger speed. I hope it was helpful. Put these tips into practice and you’ll improve in no time.