When you play an instrument that involves using both hands for a while, you build up strength. You also build up dexterity in your hands and fingers. Strength in your arms and hands, but also your fingers, is important. But equally important is having the skills in your fingers that you are going to need.
And it is your fingers that often cause the most problems in the early days when you start. That’s why I decided to take a good look at some Tips For Better Finger Dexterity.
It can be very frustrating…
You begin to think to yourself; you won’t be able to do this. But it is not that you can’t; that is not the problem. It is just that you are asking your hands and fingers to do things they are not used to.
They won’t move in the ways you need them to. It becomes difficult on any sort of guitar, but it becomes a nightmare on a piano or a keyboard. Many people just give up thinking they can’t do it.
Some will avoid the correct technical finger positioning in favor of easy ways out. This could be on a piano, just playing the one-finger root note ‘escape.’ That is not going to work if you want to play properly.
Dormant muscle groups
You are beginning to use muscle groups you may not have used for a long time. They need to be trained. You wouldn’t expect to go out running and put in the fastest time the first time you try, would you? You need to train first. The same applies to your fingers.
And what happens to muscle groups when you start using them after inactivity. They get tired. They won’t perform properly. Or worse, you can get an injury. You could classify hand fatigue or cramp as the start of an injury.
I can vouch for this. I went from practicing at home for an hour or so to 3-4 hours every night. Cramps, pain, loss of function. It was not funny at all. But then someone showed me what to do.
So this is the challenge. Prepare yourself to practice and play. Do some basic exercises to warm up hands and fingers, and you will ready to go. And don’t expect miracles in the first week. It ain’t gonna happen. But you will notice your fingers moving smoothly. You will notice less tiredness, and that all leads to one thing. Better performance.
Anywhere at all…
You can do some of these exercises anywhere at all. I used to do some on the bus or the train before I could drive. When I could, sitting in traffic jams. It also helps to pass the time instead of playing games with number plates.
So, you need to learn a few hand stretching exercises before practicing. These can be things you always do before every performance. All stretches should be used on both hands.
The First Stretch
A simple exercise to get you prepared to start the real exercises. Place your hand on a flat surface. Then holding your thumb still, move the other fingers away from the thumb. Move them as far as possible without it hurting.
Hold it for three seconds, then relax the hand. Alternate between hands to let one rest while you do the other. Do this five times each hand.
This stretch applies to both hands. It’s an especially good stretching routine for piano and keyboards. But also for those playing finger-picking style on guitar, or playing fingerstyle on bass.
Benefits – Preparing your hands and fingers for stretching exercises.
The Second Stretch
Hold both hands out in front of you. Clench your hands to a tight fist. Hold for three seconds and relax for five seconds. Repeat this five times.
Benefits – An easy way to build hand and finger strength.
Now your hand and fingers should be ready to start and get into it. Place your hand on a flat surface. Stretch the fingers apart as far as you can. Then starting with the thumb, raise the thumb as high off the surface as possible. Hold for five seconds and lower it. Repeat for each finger.
Two things are important for this stretch. Firstly, make sure the palm of your hand stays firmly on the surface. Secondly, as you raise your thumb and fingers, make sure the other fingers stay firmly placed on the surface. Do not let them rise up with the active finger, and do this for both hands five times, each raising each finger as high as possible.
Benefits – Builds independent movement and strength in each finger. Allowing each finger to move without interfering with the finger next to it.
With fingers together, hold both your hands out in front of you at chest height. They should be pointing away from you and in a vertical position. Slowly rotate them inwards, so the palms are facing down. Return to the vertical position. Then rotate the other way, so the backs of your hands are facing down. Do this five times in each direction.
Benefits – Builds wrist strength.
Place your hands in front of you at the level of your chest as if you were praying. Ensure your elbows are touching together and interlock your fingers. Then raise your elbows until your arms are horizontal to the ground without moving your hands. Repeat ten times.
Benefits – builds up strength in the arms and shoulders.
One of the great, easy ways of improving anything is by actually doing it. Therefore playing very slow chromatic scales and other exercises on the fingerboard or keyboard. When it comes to tips for better finger dexterity, this is the one people find most enjoyable.
On Piano or Keyboard
Start with playing scales starting on a different root note each time. Play up the scale and down the scale using the correct techniques you will have been taught.
After you have done ten different scales, go to semi-tone exercises. Play a note, then go up a halftone. For right-handers, on a keyboard, this will mean starting with the small finger of the left hand and playing five notes and then returning in reverse order.
On the Guitar
On a guitar, start with the forefinger. Play a halftone rise with each finger and play four notes and then come back down in reverse. You can do both exercises up and down the finger or keyboard. The important thing is to build up speed gradually. Ensure each note is clear and precise and that the timing is good and steady.
Looking for More Music and Instrument Guides?
We can help you along your journey. Check out our detailed guides on Types of Vocal Timbre, Odd Time Signatures, Everything You Need to Know About Guitar Sizes, and Guitar Games to Help You Learn Guitar for more useful information.
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Also, don’t miss our reviews of the Best Beginner Saxophones, the Best Student Flute, the Best Ukuleles for Beginners, the Best Guitars For Small Hands, and the Best Beginner Electric Guitar Packages you can buy in 2022.
Tips For Better Finger Dexterity – Final Thoughts
We all know the saying, “Practice makes Perfect.” No, it doesn’t. “Good” practice makes perfect. Always ensure all these exercises are executed with as much control as possible. And don’t worry if things don’t improve immediately. They will, but it takes some practice first, so persevere.
Until next time, keep making music.