Playing LH finger 5 in blues
Found in: Blues
Joy O., Alabama
In the 12 bar blues pieces (starting with Jackson Blues), I have several students who hold down finger 5 in the LH and just move the thumb up and down. Even after I’ve shown them the correction, they are not repeating the finger 5 on every beat. I think I’ve missed teaching that somehow. Suggestions?
Anne S., Nebraska
I tell my students “Now don’t let the pinkie be lazy and make your thumb do all the work”. If they do it anyway I say “No lazy pinkies!” They laugh and try again. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the hang of it. But they always do eventually.
Kym N., California
It’s very common. I usually tell them to pretend their pinkie and thumb are like their feet jumping on mattresses. So, both feet have to go up. The need to lift the whole arm for that. The most important thing is to do it very slowly when they first learn their left hand. Also, I mention to them how it doesn’t sound right without the pinkie (bass note) at every beat.
Ian M., Indiana
Creating an analogy or story for kids is a powerful tool. Speaking of tools, my story is “you have to really drop the hammer for the blues to sound good”. And I demonstrate the arm going up and down. I might switch to the feet jumping on the bed though – I often have to dial the “hammer” back a bit because, as everyone knows, you can really pound with a hammer 🙂
Stephen R., California
I mention “hopping” like a frog.
Cate R., Australia
I tell my students that pinkie wants a turn every time!
Jeff O., Massachusetts
Is your pinkie on vacation?
Elaine F., South Carolina
I teach the wrist technique of lifting from the wrist so all 5 fingers are just barely lifted off the keys, then wrist lowers and pinkie and thumb strike the keys.
Leeanne I., Australia
If they can do the LH fine on its own, it’s just the brain processing multiple thought processes when they bring hands together. Important to play slowly!
Kerry V., Australia
I don’t worry about it. I explain to the parent/coach/student that they need to use the finger 5 but not to worry about not using it yet if they can’t. I explain the brain is thinking about so much at the same time, it drops what it feels is the easiest so it can focus on one thing. The brain is pretty clever. Either the student will notice it and/or the parent just needs to touch the finger 5 and they’ll register. Then no problems.
Also, it depends on the size of their little hands too. But, no biggie. I also notice this happens in other songs. I don’t worry about it. They all pick it up in no time. No pressure. One example is LH for Light Blue. Sometimes they cannot move the thumb out when they bring BH in, so I tell them just to stay in the same spot until the understand the BHs. All’s good in no time. The less you worry about it, the more they accomplish.
Kym N., California
There’s also one more thing I do. When they put both hands together, I place my hand gently on top of their RH after their RH played the chord to help the students to keep the three keys down. I then say, “Now your RH is going to sleep and you don’t care about it for now. So you focus on your LH”. Once they learn how to put their RH to “sleep”, their brain has more “room” for the LH.
I usually need to do the first line the most to help them to get the feel of putting their RH to “sleep”. “Sleep” gives the feeling of down but relaxed. I think “sleep” is better than “take a nap” as I want them to feel totally worry free.
Sue L., California
I tell them the pinkie needs to be like Tigger and bounce, not like Eeyore and just lie around.