Left Hand Piano Fingering
Pianists are often required to play a rhythm and melody part simultaneously in many
songs. The right hand usually covers the melody, which almost always contains higher pitched notes than the
rhythm. Since the rhythm part usually contains the lower notes on the left side of the keyboard, it is almost
always played with the left hand.
Due to the way the keys are laid out on the keyboard, the left hand piano fingering is effectively reversed from the right hand.
If you favor the right hand heavily while learning to play the piano,
the left hand piano work can sometimes be confusing to develop.
In some lessons, the fingering is indicated by a number written underneath the note. The number indicates what
finger is used to play the key that corresponds to that note. The thumb on the left hand is number “1” and counting
up to the pinky, which is number “5.”
The direction of the numbers is reversed from the right hand, but the fingers that correspond to each number are
the same. For example, the “4” finger is the ring finger for both hands.
Even though the left hand piano fingering for chords is effectively inverted from the right hand, the fingering
is quite similar between the two hands. Basic chords, like C major or A minor, are played with the thumb, middle
finger and pinky. The index finger, middle finger and ring finger are used to add the black keys to notes.
Chords that require four notes are usually played using the thumb, index
finger, middle finger and pinky. In some cases, the thumb, index finger, ring finger and pinky are used to
play four note chords, but this is usually the less common method.
Most piano players only use the left hand for playing chords for the rhythm part of a song. In some cases, the
left hand is used to play an additional melody part. This style of piano work is usually only found in virtuoso
parts. Due to uniqueness of these parts, the fingering is rarely standardized.
The fingering is quite often specific to the individual part. The solo version of “Flight of the Bumblebee” is a
good example of this concept. The main part is played by the right hand, while the left hand swaps between playing
lower pitched bass notes and higher pitched melodies over the course of the song.
The technical skill for left hand piano fingering is often substantially less than the right hand abilities in
most pianists. From an ability standpoint, rhythm parts are often much less demanding to play than melody
The difference often leads to pianists having trouble with more complicated left hand parts. A good way to
practice your left handed fingering is to play right hand parts with your left hand. You should attempt to match
the fingering as close to possible, as well.
For example, any time you would use your right hand thumb, you should use your left hand pinky. Your left hand
piano work develops much more quickly and evenly if you practice parts that are more difficult than what you would
normally encounter in rhythm parts.
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