I started teaching piano when I was 14 years old. Being a teacher for 57 years, I have much experience working with all ages and all levels of students. I believe in instilling correct habits from the very first lesson. Correcting bad habits is much harder to do.
In working with young beginner students to develop dexterity with their fingers I used to start them out playing 5 finger scales going from C to G and back to C, all around the Circle of Fifths. But in working with those same students as time goes on, I am seeing that they have a problem remembering to put the thumb under for the full scale. So now when I start any age child on scales I teach them the whole scale showing them how to transfer the hand from the C position to the F position and so on.
In teaching dexterity with the students hand, it is important to show them how some fingers are strong and some are weak. The thumb, that we call the 1st finger is the strongest and the loudest. With playing the thumb one has to be very careful not to allow it to lay down. It needs to be held up slightly and the thumb played on the outer corner. I show the child the OK sign with the thumb and 2nd finger. I say to them, “we are doing OK, not hitch hiking,” and I show them the hitch hiking sign with the thumb. Interesting enough, many children have never seen those signs before. I guess those signs are outdated. I will continue writing this post each week. I hope I will get responses from my readers and other teachers. - Sharon