Reader Question: Coordination for adult beginner

Hello, I live in the Los Angeles area and I have a question. I have always wanted to play the piano and have tried with 3 different teachers as an adult. I hit a wall with coordinating my left and right hands to the notes on the two staffs. It’s as though I have to “translate” the notes in my head to the correct place on the piano. It is not an automatic process. It is extremely frustrating that I cannot go beyond this level. Perhaps there is a learning/teaching style that would solve my problem? I would be most grateful for any help you c an provide. Thank you!

First, we must acknowledge that playing hands together can be extremely challenging.  Breaking things down might help:

  •  Consider an intervallic approach to reading, instead of focusing on individual note names.  One such approach can be found in “Keyboard Musician,” by Frances Clark (Summy Birchard, distributed by Alfred Publishing.)
  • Reading problems are best addressed away from the repertoire.  Interval flashcards, note flashcards, and simple sight-playing exercises are examples of ways to boost reading skills.
  • Always study the music before playing hands together. Look for patterns, for example, places where measures repeat, or are very similar.  Mark places where both hands play the same finger.
  • For each new piece, tap and count the rhythm on the keyboard cover.  (the bass clef notes tapped with the left hand, treble with the right hand).  This will help with seeing both clefs simultaneously and help with coordination.
  • Instead of tapping and counting,, you might also tap and say the hands:  “Both right right both.”
  • Try playing the piece on the keyboard cover, moving the appropriate fingers.  This will allow you to focus on one aspect of the piece.
  • Practice coordination exercises in your warm-ups away from the repertoire.  Please see example by clicking on:  2X1 Warm-up
  • If practicing hands separately, always begin with the left hand, to encourage reading from the “bottom to the top.”
  •  Make certain that you start with the appropriate pieces.  Perhaps the repertoire has been “too much too soon?”  Start with very simple pieces.


We hope that these ideas will help you.  Please keep in touch and let us know how these ideas are working!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *