Having trouble coordinating your left and right hands on the piano? Cheer up! Remember, you’re not alone! Even the world’s greatest pianists were once in your shoes.
Playing the piano with both hands at the same time is certainly challenging – at least at first. This is because our hands tend to mirror each other’s movements. Performing two distinct motions can be difficult, especially when approached as a sequence of keys or a combination of notes shared between the hands.
There’s no need to give up!
How to play piano with both hands will become easier with practice. Your muscle memory (skill memory) will begin to catch up, and you’ll find yourself hitting the right keys without even thinking about it. The more practice you put in, the easier and more rewarding it becomes.
Here are some important things to remember when you first begin playing the piano with both hands together.
1. Practice each hand independently first.
The key to acquiring this complex skill of playing the piano with both the right and left hands at the same time, is to learn one hand at a time. Master each part separately at first, until playing either part becomes almost subconscious. Don’t try to play either line faster than you can correctly because it will impair your ability to play both lines together. If you’re experiencing difficulties, never be afraid to slow down.
When you’ve mastered both hands separately, try playing with both hands together as many times as you need to feel confident with the notes and rhythm. Continue doing this throughout the piece until you can comfortably play all of the notes in both hands at the same time. Once you’ve mastered both hands, the piece will be ingrained in your mind as a whole bunch of muscle movements, and you’ll quickly be able to tell if you make a mistake with either or both hands.
2. Give yourself time.
Breathe! Nothing permanent comes easily, so no skill or piece can be mastered overnight. It’s perfectly normal for your fingers or hands to get mixed up the first few times, or even days. Even professional pianists continue to practice hands separately after playing a piece for 25 years or more.
Take me for example, I’ve been playing piano for over 20 years now. But when I was preparing for my music video Amazing Grace meets Lord of the Rings Soundtrack, there were parts I kept messing up. I had to slow down, and intentionally practice one hand at a time. I wouldn’t have mastered the challenging parts if I hadn’t had the patience for myself, and the music wouldn’t have had the same impact on people’s lives. It takes time and patience.
Playing with both hands at the same time can be tough, so give yourself plenty of practice time. When you’re not worried about having to use both hands, coordination will come much more easily. Don’t rush through the process. Laugh at your mistakes. Rather than stress out, relax and allow the music to flow. Have fun!
3. Visualize how both hands will be positioned in transitions between chords.
If you’re having difficulty shifting from chord to chord smoothly and accurately on piano, don’t get overwhelmed. Visualize what needs to be done, and pay attention to how your hands transition between each chord.
For example, if you’re playing C major and then navigate to G major, you’ve got to think of the next chord (G) while you’re playing the last few notes of the current chord (C) to be able to play the notes on time. Before lifting your fingers from the existing chord, figure out how and where your fingers should land next. Imagine the shape and feel of your hands in the current chord and the shape and feel when you shift to the next chord. With proper fingering, you will be able to make the switch quickly and easily. Repeat until you can put your fingers down from one chord to the next without hesitation.
It’s also important that you practice one transition at a time, especially if the chord progression includes several chords. Play as slowly as you need to and as many times as you need to. Gradually increase your speed and slow down when you find yourself playing choppily. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your hands learn their way around with a little repetition.
4. Stick to the practice routine that works best for you.
Are you a kinesthetic, aural, visual, or theoretical learner? Because we all have different learning styles, you can experiment with different types of practice routines to see what helps you grasp concepts easily. Can you concentrate and practice more effectively if you have sheet music? What about experimenting with synthesia? Does it help if you listen to what you have to play?
Try each method and select the one that best suits you. You’ll be able to find the quickest and most effective way to learn piano if you know how you learn best.
The ability to play the piano is a creative one. It’s one of the few instruments that allows you to play up to ten notes at the same time. With consistent focus and practice, you’ll be surprised at how quickly learning to play with both hands can become very comfortable and musically rewarding. So, as you work to become the pianist you’ve always wanted to be, be patient and have fun!