Here’s an off-the-bench activity to coordinate hands together piano playing without  frustration.  Piano teacher’ s you know we need all the help we can get with this struggle!

It happens-right?  You know that moment when the student is just about on the point of  shutting down? You can feel the air constricting around you?  The students eyes are starting to brim with tears. They are really struggling with the coordination and they are starting to take  it hard!

You have a choice in that moment. You can keep trying to play the tricky hands together passage on the piano. (With the tissues close by.) Or you can leave the piano immediately before the waterworks are here.

Here is an activity that will fix the student’s frustration fast, and save the lesson!

If you are teaching a class you can have all the students do this activity together. Or you can put the students on headphones to practice while you take the struggling student aside.  

Here’s the rescue strategy* for redirecting the frustration into a tangible and fun exercise:

  • Get a hand drum and a mallet, or a tambourine and a rhythm stick. (If you don’t have these- you could  just use your hands and the floor.)
  • Invite your student to join you on the floor where the percussion is waiting.
  • Place a stick in the right hand and a tambourine for the left.
  • Place the music on the floor in front of the percussion.
  • Tap out the right hand of the passage with the stick by saying, “Right.”
  • Tap out the left hand by saying, “Left.”
  • Tap out both hands by saying, “Both.”
  • Make sure your student is saying it out loud!

Like This:

“Both Right Right Left Both”

The student will quickly gain the coordination. Their brain is now connecting with the hands. They had fun doing it. No one cried. Your student leaves the lesson smiling. You remind the student that they could do this at home by tapping with their hands. Everyone is smiling!

*This stick/tambourine strategy was taught to me by a wonderful mentor-  I have tweaked it a little for my students- but shout out to Allison G. of CD’A- thank you!