Lesson 16

Finger Numbers

You must be logged in to comment.

Loading comments

Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman.
Today may be our shortest lesson ever.
That's because we're talking about something so very simple,
and yet important to a pianist. And that's finger numbers.
You see, to make things convenient, a long time ago,
pianists decided to assign each finger a number. Here's how it works.
Okay why don't you hold up both of your hands, like this,
so we can learn about the finger numbers.
You've got your right hand and your left hand.
And the finger numbers go one, two, three, four, five.

So, let's try it for right hand first.
With your right hand can you wiggle finger number one?
Number two, number three, number four, number five.
Good, now for your left hand. Let's try it.
Wiggle finger number one, two, three, four, five.
Notice that, since your hands are built opposite of each other,
if you're playing a song like "Five Woodpeckers,"
your right hand is starting with finger number one: "woodpecker tap tap."
But, with your left hand, since your thumb is on this side,
for "Five Woodpeckers," you'd be starting with finger number five:
"woodpecker tap tap."

All right, now let's see if you get it by doing a little quiz.
Can you wiggle your right hand finger number four?
If you wiggled here, you're correct.
Can you wiggle left hand finger number one?
If you wiggled here, you're correct.
Okay, wiggle right hand finger number two.
If you wiggled right here, you're correct.
Okay, wiggle your left hand finger number five.
If you wiggled right here, you're correct.
Now wiggle your right hand finger number three.
If you wiggled right here, you're correct.

Now that you know finger numbers, in future lessons,
I'm not going to say things like "use your pinky to play G."
I'm going to say "use finger five to play G." We're getting fancy now.
So, a quick word though to anyone out there who plays the violin.
You've probably already noticed that finger numbers are different for piano
than for violin. On violin, you don't use your thumb on the finger board.
So instead of your thumb being finger one, the numbers go one, two, three, four.
If you don't play violin, you can forget I even said that.
But whatever other instrument you play,
remember that for piano thumbs are finger one.
You can remember it this way: thumbs up means we're number one.

Now I have a little mystery challenge for you.
Here's a song written in finger number code.
I want you to place your right hand in the C major pentascale: C D E F G.
And then, use this code to figure out what the song is. That's the mystery.
So, if you see a finger number five, you're going to play finger five.
The "RH" always stands for right hand in music.
You'll start by playing finger five, five, five, three, three, and then keep going.
Press pause and use this finger number code to try to figure out what song this is.
It's a song you should know.
Press play when you're ready to hear the correct answer from me.

Here's the solution to the mystery song.
We had five, five, five, three, three.
Five, five, five, three.
Five, five, five, three, three.
One, one, one.
That's right, this is "Frog in the Middle."
Now let's do another mystery challenge.
Here's another mystery song for you to solve.
This one says LH, so it will be for your left hand.
Let's go ahead and place the left hand on CDEFG.
This one starts on a finger five, which, you'll recall, is over here.
So go ahead and press pause and on your own try to figure out this mystery song.
Press play again when you're ready to hear the correct answer.

Okay the correct answer to this mystery song is:
Five, four, three, two, one.
One, two, three, four, five.
That's right, this song is "Chocolate."

Nice work on the finger number mystery challenge.
For extra practice, here's a fun game you can try.
Let's say Mom or Dad are driving you around in the car.
Mom can say "with left hand finger five, touch your nose."
And you'd do that, whatever she says.
Or, she might say "with right hand finger two, touch your ear."
Or "with left hand finger four, touch your knee."
You get the idea. For even more review and practice with finger numbers,
you can download the complete materials for unit one from our website.
Have lots of fun practicing with finger numbers.
Thanks for watching, and I'll see you next time.

Okay here's one more for you. With your right hand finger five, touch your ear.
While you do that, pass your left hand under your left knee,
and touch your right knee with left hand finger four.
Then touch your right hand finger one to your left hand finger two.
And then touch your left hand finger one to your chin. ...