Piano Finger Positioning for Beginners: What To Know  | Piano Marvel

Piano Finger Positioning for Beginners: What To Know 

by Tracy Xian, DMA; NCTM; Pianist, Collaborative Artist and Teacher

Mastering the art of playing the piano can be immensely fulfilling, but it can also pose significant difficulties if proper technique is not established from the beginning. Here are a few tips for proper piano finger positioning for beginners.

Master finger numbers

One of the first things beginners should learn is finger numbers. Proper fingerings allow for efficient and smooth playing, and help pianists to hear and feel the music as they play. Finger numbers provide a reference point for positioning the fingers on the keys and can aid in developing muscle memory for different keys and intervals on the keyboard. The intervallic reading approach trains students to read intervals and recognize the relationships between notes, instead of reading note names one by one. One effective method to practice using the correct finger numbers is to vocalize the finger numbers while playing.

Use your arms, not just your fingers

Relying solely on the fingers can result in tense and rigid playing, and can increase the risk of injuries such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Incorporating the arms in piano playing allows for a wider range of motion, smooth movements across the keys, and better tonal and dynamic controls and expression in music performance. The Taubman Technique is a method of piano playing that emphasizes principles such as alignment, dropping, rotation, grouping, arm weight transfer, and relaxation to optimize hand and finger movements for efficient and injury-free playing.

Some key principles of finger positioning in the Taubman Technique include aligning the fingers with the forearm and hand, dropping the fingers onto the keys from a height, rotating the fingers on their axes, grouping the fingers together and moving them as a unit, using the arms and whole body to transfer weight between fingers, avoiding tension in the fingers, hands, or arms, and positioning the thumb slightly lower than the other fingers. Edna Golandsky is a world-renowned piano pedagogue, the leading exponent of the Taubman Approach, and the Founder of the Golandsky Institute. Find out more about the Taubman Approach from this article by Piano Marvel: How to Leap with Freedom in Chopin's Etude Op. 25 No. 3

Take it slow!

Practicing slow and deliberate movements is essential for beginners to develop proper finger positioning as a habit. Regular practice sessions dedicated to finger positioning exercises can help build muscle memory and accuracy, and promote correct finger placement. It is important to focus on accuracy and control rather than speed, as developing good habits early on is crucial for progress and excellence in piano playing.


Piano Marvel piano learning software supports beginners with practice tools like adjustable tempo, looping, and metronome for accurate and repetitive practice at a comfortable pace. These features help build a strong foundation in technique, accuracy, and proficiency, enabling beginners to progress in their piano skills.


Dr. Qiao-Shuang Tracy Xian is a Chinese-American pianist renowned for her exceptional musicality, technical mastery, and profound interpretive insights.  She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from Louisiana State University, as well as a Bachelor of Music degree from the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.
Dr. Xian is a dedicated educator with over two decades of teaching experience.  She is the piano instructor at Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts in Columbus, GA.  She serves as the pianist for St. Mark United Methodist Church and is an active member of the National Music Teachers Association (MTNA), the Georgia Music Teachers Association (GMTA), and currently holds the position of president at the Columbus Music Teachers Association (CMTA).

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