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Digit Flotation

When there isn’t enough weight behind each finger, piano playing can sound choppy and uneven. We need our students to have the confidence to press each key down fully.

Digit Flotation: Grasshopper

Many students with ingrained Digit Flotation will need a little break from legato to correct the issue. The Grasshopper is a fairly intensive process that will fix your student’s technique habits.

Steps

  • Choose any five finger position for you and your student.
  • Demonstrate a short phrase and ask your student to echo it back. Use an exaggerated portato touch and describe the grasshopper hopping between blades of grass.
  • Repeat the call and echo with each hand, until your student is fully lifting and dropping into each key with a relaxed hand.
  • Apply this same touch to all her assignments, demonstrating the grasshopper technique as needed. She should practice everything in this way at first.
  • The next week review and reiterate the grasshopper technique as needed. Repeat this each week until she is reliably applying the technique to all her assignments.
  • Gradually start to reintroduce legato after several weeks. Start with just one piece and keep everything else portato at first.
  • Reduce the number of grasshopper pieces over time until she is playing all articulation as written again.
  • Revisit the grasshopper if the digit flotation returns.

Download these steps as a printable pdf by clicking here.

Digit Flotation: Magnetic Attraction

The magnetic imagery in this cure can help to pull your student’s fingers all the way down to the bottom of each key. Really sell this story for maximum effect!

Steps

  • Ask your student to hold up her hand.
  • Place imaginary little magnets on each of her fingertips.
  • Tell her that the matching magnet is at the bottom of the key, and once she starts pressing the key down the magnets will activate and pull her to the keybed.
  • Tell her to start playing very slowly, and reiterate this story as needed.
  • Take the magnets off her fingers at the end of the lesson and place them in her piano bag for her to practice with at home.