Playing Piano With The Left hand

Today we are going to take a break from the right hand and take a look at the left hand. If you are left handed then you have a big advantage when it comes to playing the left hand as right-handed people often find their left hand is a lot weaker and harder to coordinate.

The left hand plays a variety of different roles. In jazz and pop music, the left hand often acts as a rhythm section, playing a bass with a percussive rhythm. In classical music, the left hand can play chords to harmonize with the right hand, but sometimes it also takes a melodic role as well. In Baroque music especially (have a listen to J.S. Bach for an example), the left hand often plays a complementing melody of its own, known as a contrapuntal melody.

To begin the practical part of this lesson, we are going to try the C scale in the left hand. Place your thumb on middle C and try a C scale going down. So thumb on C, index finger on B, forefinger on A, then move your thumb underneath your hand to place it on G, and then carry on down with your index finger on F, forefinger on E, fourth finger on D and little finger on low C.

To go up again, simply play up from low C to G, then put your forefinger over your thumb and onto A, straightening your hand as you do so, and continue with your index finger on B, finishing with your thumb back on C.

Try spanning the low C octave with your left hand: thumb on middle C and little finger on low C. How does your left hand strength compare to your right? Is it easier, harder, or just the same?

This first exercise is exactly the same as the first exercise we played in Lesson One, but for the left hand:

Now try this: Remember this refrain? This is part of the Haydn variation from Lesson Two.

The third exercise is to help you learn your way around the C Scale in the left hand. You will notice a squiggly line in place of a note in this piece. This is known as a crotchet rest. A crotchet rest means that you count the equivalent of a crotchet beat, but without sounding a note. There are different symbols for each different type of rest, and we will talk more about these in later lessons.

To finish this lesson, here is a short piece. Notice that in the second to last bar, the notes form the C scale descending? I have written the note letter names about each note in the left hand, as the Bass scale can be a lot harder to read.

Glossary of Terms

Bach: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). A prolific composer of sacred and secular music during the Baroque period.

Refrain: A short phrase or section of music.