Piano teachers, ever had a student struggle with putting hands together? Only all the time, right? Here’s an off-the-bench activity for playing hands together without frustration.  Piano teacher’ s you know we need all the help we can get with this struggle!

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. Time for an off-the-bench activity!

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. Then take the struggling student aside to a gathering rug area set aside for moments like this.  

Off-the-bench! 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”

Back to the Piano- playing hands together!

The student will quickly gain the coordination. Their brain is now connecting with the hands. Take them back to the piano to see if they can play it slowly with both hands! They will be pleasantly surprised, it helped them so quickly!

Congratulate the student for coordinating their hands like a drummer! You remind the student that they could do this at home by tapping with their hands on their lap. (Or wooden spoons and pots and pans on the ground- whatever!)  Your student will be so proud of themselves!  No one left the lesson crying! Everyone is smiling for the win!

See the link at the top for info on the the Remo drums I use. I am not an affiliate of Remo. I just love their products and have an assortment of their kids percussion.

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