Why Begin with Dropping on a Finger?

People always me “Why Begin with Dropping?”

There are many reasons to begin this way. Correct dropping:
– Can align and unify the finger hand and forearm.
– Can teach correct balance on each finger.
– Can provide forearm support for each finger in playing a key.
– Can make all fingers function equally because they are each supported by forearm as they drop into a key.
– Can teach how to play a key with ease and freedom (without pushing or tension), since the key is under the playing unit when the student is sitting properly and drops.
– Can provide a correct visual of each finger dropping into the key. This is very important for the student to see and check in order to develop the natural hand position with no isolation, stretching or twisting.

Are there any pre-requisites for correct dropping?

Students must sit at the correct height, with feet balanced on a stool or the floor; torso sitting up straight but not held up; body feeling slightly toward the instrument (definitely not pulling away from the instrument).

What to Play When Dropping?

Students can drop on one finger at first in order to get the correct balance (no dropping wrist) and placement of the non-playing fingers. The student will also learn to move the playing unit (finger, hand, and forearm) up and down in one piece.

After the student can successfully pick up and drop on each finger and land correctly, they can work with rhythm patterns first with only one hand, and then with both hands alternating. They will always use the same finger for the entire pattern. Be sure to begin with both hands resting lightly on the keys and not holding up in the air. Each hand will pick up to drop into the key. Do not move down from the surface of the key without a preparation as it can promote pushing which is not good. Be sure the non-playing hand rests lightly on the keys while the other hand drops and that the non-playing hand picks up to prepare when it needs to drop. Practicing patterns with alternating hands on your lap or on the piano lid can be very helpful in getting the non-playing hand to rest lightly.

Move on to simple patterns for changing fingers. Be sure that the hand does not twist away from the forearm as the student changes from one finger to another. The forearm needs to learn how to align with each finger as the student goes from one finger to another. The playing unit now needs to move from finger to finger in one piece as well as up and down. (I make flash cards ex. 223, 232, 234, etc.). Continue to check the landing on each finger.

Students can move larger distances over the keys with dropping. They can play a pattern and then move the playing unit one octave higher or lower and repeat it. Thus they are also learning to move laterally across the keyboard in one piece. It is very important for students to learn to move in one piece in all 3 ways – up and down, from one finger to another, and over lateral distances on the keyboard.

Students can play simple rote pieces or very simple reading pieces this way as well. I avoid using the thumbs until the dropping on 2,3,4, and 5 has become very easy and well done. Some books (The Music Tree Book 1) postpone using the thumb at the beginning of learning to play. In books that use the thumb right away, I often re-finger the piece to avoid using it until the other fingers are working well.

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