I came across this video recently from Ryan at TakeLessons.com. In this video, Ryan demonstrates some very useful piano finger exercises for building not only speed, but agility as well. It is important to be aware of your thumbs when playing the piano and what they are doing. This is a very important factor in building your speed. There are many effective ways of increasing your speed and if you’re playing a scale that is more than five notes, you are going to have to utilize your thumbs by crossing over at some point. You need to be aware of what your thumb is doing after you play a note that aligns to it. The secret to a fast easy scale is all in the crossover technique that is implemented by the thumb.
He also talks about how to make the scale sound clean and smooth by means of crossing the thumbs under at the appropriate time so that there aren’t any rests. There are exercises that you can use to prepare your thumbs for the next note so that you can swiftly cross under without it being noticeable. He talks about not only practicing the scales legato but also staccato as it allows for proper position of the hands. This makes executing scales with ease so much more efficient. You want your hands to be more rounded when doing this. When practicing scales staccato, you want to just use your fingertips rather than the weight of your whole finger or hand. Doing this will let you prepare your thumbs early so you can gain muscle memory when it comes to playing fast.
Another technique that is covered is blocking scales, chords and passages. Rather than playing scales as individual notes, instead play them as chords! You can play them at a faster speed once you get the hang of it. It may seem like an unusual approach, but it is effective in regards to building up speed. You may find it to be an easier approach as your fingers will already know where they’re going. This is something you can do in scales as well as passages. These are just some of the ways you can bring your piano playing to an even higher level. This video can be very useful for demonstrating these exciting ideas in piano technique and improving your speed.
I hope to see another video from Ryan about 3rd and 4th finger crossings since when going in the opposite direction, these fingers come into play. Meanwhile, try out these techniques for yourself and see how they improve your speed at the piano.
Here are some additional lessons on how to play faster on the piano.