Shape Fingerings



[front cam] Now, while you’re playing, you can use any fingers you like. But the keyboard actually matches your hands, and this can really help you out.

[overhead] Our hands [show] are mirror images of one another, and from the right perspective [show], one side of the keyboard is also a mirror image of the other side.

Our pointer, middle, and ring fingers [show] stick up above our thumbs and pinkies, and the keyboard also has keys [show] that stick up above the others.

When you place your fingers that stick up on the keys that stick up, suddenly the whole keyboard becomes a repeating pattern of hand-shaped groups of keys [show].

And by alternating between your thumbs and your fingers that stick up [show], you get a fingering pattern that lets you through the whole shape, starting on any note [show].

In fact, once you’re oriented to the top keys, this same pattern works in any shape. You move your hands into the new shape [move to 2L], and go from there [show].

[front cam] This gives you a guideline for how your fingers can meet the keys. And it helps you navigate the keyboard by touch, rather than having to look at your hands. It also helps you develop a very natural finger technique, because when your hands have to feel their way around, they find the easiest way to meet the keys.

So here’s how it works.


Start by grabbing the groups of three top keys, so that your three fingers that stick up on each hand are aligned with these keys. Then play all the notes at the same time [play].

Then move to the next group of two top keys, put your first two fingers that stick up on those keys, like peace signs, and play them at the same time [play].

Repeat this up and down the keyboard, along with the beat of the song, like this [play]. You can go as slowly or quickly as you’re comfortable.

And when you’ve got it, close your eyes and feel for the next group of keys that stick up, rather than looking. You can really grab these groups, feel their different widths, and bump your thumbs in between them to start navigating them by touch [show].

Once you can move between the groups, along with the beat, and without looking, then add your thumbs in between each group, like this [show].

If it helps to look at first, that’s okay. And it might also help to try taking your hands away from the keys in between each time you play groups and thumbs, like this [show: “groups, thumbs, groups…”].

Once you’ve got that, then instead of playing the groups all together, play the notes one-by-one, like this [show: “1, 2, 3, thumbs, 1, 2, thumbs…”].

And at this point, you’ve got it—you’re playing the pattern up and down through the whole TOP shape, and the transitions between groups and thumbs will become smoother the more you play with it.

You’ll also hear right away if you accidentally play a note that’s not in the shape, like this [thumb], and that’ll help you out, especially when you’re not looking at your hands.

So play this pattern up and down the keyboard along with different songs until you feel comfortable matching the beat, and playing without looking.

[front cam] But when you first sit down to play, start by just playing along with the song, making things up and following your ear like you have been. Then play with the shape fingering, and then afterward, go back to playing on your own.

Because the point of learning this pattern isn’t just to play it by itself, but rather to have a guide for how your hands can meet the keys. You’ll still use any fingers you like while you’re playing, and you’ll rarely follow this fingering pattern exactly. But you’ll notice it working its way into your playing, giving you some intuition about which fingers to use, and when.

So give it a try. We’ll expand the pattern into more shapes down the road, but since they’re all based on the TOP shape, focus on that one for now. And when you feel like you’ve got the hang of playing up and down the shape without looking, then come on back for more.


Level 4 Playlist