How to Finger Octaves

Piano Lessons / music theory / How to Finger Octaves

Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about how to finger octaves. Octaves have a very simple fingering solution the vast majority of the time. Unless you have very large hands, the simple solution is to use your first and fifth fingers on white keys and your first and fourth fingers on black keys. Now, this is great for legato octaves, but it also divides the load of the hand when playing rapid octaves from the wrist. Using the fourth finger on the black keys divides the load a bit on the hands.

Move your arms in to reach the black keys.

There’s another technique I want to show you that is really vital. The wrists accomplish octaves, but the arms have an essential role in getting over the keys. You want to think of going in and out of the keyboard for black keys to accomplish those octaves without having to reach with your fingers. Move your arms in for black keys and out for white keys. It makes it so much easier. By moving your arms in you don’t have to use so much finger strength to hit the black keys. This is a great technique for you in conjunction with using the fourth finger on black keys. Remember to get over the keys by moving your hands closer to the fallboard for black keys, and closer to you for white keys.

Those are the tips for octaves today!

I’ve made a lot of videos about octaves. You can enjoy all of them here at and on YouTube as well. We welcome your comments! Thank you for subscribing. I’m Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

For premium videos and exclusive content, you can join my Living Pianos Patreon channel!

Contact me if you are interested in private lessons. I have many resources for you!

Supplemental Content:

How to Play Legato Octaves

The BEST Piano Exercises pt 4

How to Develop Brilliant Octaves in Your Piano Playing

7 thoughts on “How to Finger Octaves”

    1. It’s all about size:
      Concert grand pianos are usually around 9-feet long.
      Semi-concert grand pianos are around 7-feet long.
      Grand pianos are typically about 6-feet long.
      Baby grand pianos are around 5-feet long.
      Pianos between baby grand and grand pianos are sometimes referred to as parlor grands or studio grands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fourteen + fourteen =