The Best Piano Exercises for Beginners.

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Piano exercises are a key part of your practice. You will notice that not all piano exercises involve actually playing the piano. This is important, pianists need to focus on their ability to read music, build chords and improve rhythm. Not all piano exercises involve pressing the keys! In this article I want to explore different types of piano exercises, do they really work? What should a beginner be focusing on and what are the best piano exercises to get started with.

Let’s jump in.

Do Piano exercises work?

Different exercises do different things. Playing scales and arpeggios help improve dexterity and articulation, and these will also appear in passages of music. Other exercises will focus on rhythm. These piano exercises can be very simple dotted rhythms for beginners to more complex cross rhythms.


Hannon Exercises.

Hanon was a composer, who made 60 piano exercises. Famous pianists, like Rachmaninoff said that these exercises were the reason for such an explosion of talented virtuosos from the Russian conservatories.

I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of the Hannon exercises.

Hanon Piano exercises

What should a beginner practice?

As a beginner you want to be focusing on 3 main areas with your piano exercises.

  1. Finger Strength.
  2. Wrist/Forearm Strength.
  3. Stamina.
Piano exercises – No. 6 from Hanon

So piano exercise number 6 is a good example. You can use this to work on Finger strength and wrist strength. For example, you can just play it straight as written to improve your finger strength. However you can play this another way. If you are doing this exercise place your free hand under your wrist to support it. Try supporting your wrist more and supporting it with your free hand as your working hand rotates. For a passage like this, it would be safer for your technique to use your wrist/forearm than just your finger strength.

If you are a beginner check out our other post: Best way to learn piano online

chords sheet on piano tiles
Photo by Pixabay.

What are the best piano exercises?

  1. Major and Minor Scales. – Very useful and very accessible to everyone. And for a further exercise try playing these in octaves to improve your wrist and forearm strength.
  2. 5 finger patterns
  3. Partial Chords
  4. Triads – Good for practicing music theory also.
  5. Clapping/Tapping Rhythms.
  6. Finger or arm stretches.
  7. Sight Reading.

Most of these are fairly self explanatory, I want to elaborate a little further on some of these


5 finger patterns.

A 5 finger pattern involves picking a note, and running up and down the first 5 notes of that scale. Most beginners would begin on C. Because this is a rather straight forward technical exercise, it’s good for beginners and I would advise to start with both hands from the start with this. This can double up as a exercise for coordinating playing with both hands together.

Partial Chords.

I like these exercises. The Hannon exercises are useful for these.

I would recommend starting out on a Root note, then playing the 3rd and the 5th or adding any interval as you please. You could do this in the Key of C and play a perfect 5th in the left hand and begin to add additional harmony in the right hand. You can then use this to further exercise practicing balance between your hands. Practice keeping the LH at a piano dynamic and creating a more expressive right hand!

Sight Reading.

There is no better piano exercise than sight reading. It is a very useful skill to develop from the very beginning. There is no better exercise to improve: note recognition, rhythm improvement. It’s a common mistake for beginners to try and perfect one piece. The more you expose yourself to, the more challenged you will be.

There’s a few important things to consider when sight reading.

  1. Start by spending 2-3 minutes reading through the music and try and scout out any passages that may be particularly difficult.
  2. Looked at the key signature(s) be familiar with these.
  3. Look at the time signature.
  4. Make note of any tempo indicators.
  5. Look out for any accidentals.
  6. Look out for any tricky rhythms.
  7. Give it a go!

If you are exercising these skills, you will automatically do them when you start to learn a new piece of music.

Piano exercises video.


Piano exercises are very useful, perhaps more useful than learning on piece of music and practicing it over and over again. Hanon exercises are a useful way to get started. Sight reading is a catch all exercise. It practices everything and I recommend getting your hands on as much music as possible and get playing!

Read next: How to Read Piano Music

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