The Secret of the Thumbs in Arpeggios

Piano Lessons / music theory / The Secret of the Thumbs in Arpeggios

Welcome to Living, I’m Robert Estrin. The subject today is about achieving fast, smooth arpeggios by preparing your thumbs way in advance. You know what arpeggios are. But how do you play them fluently? Scales are hard enough with thumb and finger crossings. But with arpeggios, there is a secret to achieving smooth thumb crossings. In the left-hand you have fourth and third finger crossings. But going down in the left-hand or going up in the right hand, you have thumb crossings. I see so many students moving their whole arms for thumb crossings. They move their elbows in and out which disrupts the sound. It doesn’t allow for playing fast. Many people find it helpful to reach with their thumbs. But by the time they do that, it’s already too late!

The secret is to tuck your thumb under when you play the second finger.

That’s right. When the second finger plays, the thumb tucks under. That way, it’s already ready for the next note. The left-hand coming down does the same thing. You don’t want to wait! If you wait to move your thumb until the moment of the crossing, it’s already too late. So tuck the thumb right when you play the second finger. Then you don’t have to move your arm with your elbow going in and out. You are prepared way in advance.

Slow practice of stretching your thumb under right when you play the second finger is the secret for getting smooth thumb crossings in your arpeggios.

If you’ve never tried this before, try it! Work slowly at first. I suggest 60 beats per minute at one note to the beat because you have to train your hand to do this. It’s not going to do it automatically. But once it does become automatic, you’re going to get smoothness and speed out of your arpeggios like you’ve never had before! This is a really important tip. Let me know how it works for you in the comments on and YouTube. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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