KEYBOARD TOPOGRAPHY

1. Train yourself visually to find the white keys by reference to the black keys. (e.g., do not look for D as being the white key that comes after the white key C, but rather as the white key that is in between the two black keys).

2. Once you start to automatically look at the groups of two and three black keys in order to locate any of the white keys, proceed to the next step. You must be consistent and systematic here, or you will never do that automatically.

3. Close your eyes (or turn the lights off) and learn how to identify the groups of two and three black notes by touch. Flatten your fingers and use the whole of the hand (using the tips of the fingers only is unreliable) to feel for the groups of black keys. Once you are sure that you have a group of two black keys (or a group of three black keys) under your fingers/hand, have your fingers into playing position and press them (both hands together, one octave apart). Use fingers 2-3 for the two black notes and fingers 2-3-4 for the three black notes.

4. In the beginning this will be very slow. But with consistent (everyday – 2 – 3 minutes practice) you will be surprised how good you get at it (one week – one month).

5. Once you mastered the above, move on to play the black notes not as chords, but separately (still using finger 2-3 and 2-3-4).

6. Now add thumbs and play the B major scale (closed eyes). Find the white keys (played by they thumbs) by touching the black keys to the left of the white keys (B and E). In other words, use the thumbs to help locate your fingers in relation to the groups of two and three back notes. This will require that you play the thumbs well into the black key area.

7. Do the same for Db major (this time the white notes F-C will be to the right of the black notes). The whole point is that you are using the black keys to locate by touch the relevant white keys, and at the same time you are using the thumbs on the white keys to help locate the black keys.

8. Move on to play all scales with closed eyes following the same principle: locate the white keys by first feeling the black keys. This means playing well into the black key area. Remember that your aim here is not scale practice, but touch recognition practice. When you are practicing scales you will not be using this hand position. This is just for the moment.

9. With consistent practice, (2-3 minutes daily), you will start to feel the black notes automatically and with a much more subtle movement – you will not need to go so much into the black key area.

10. Then start applying the same principle to arpeggios, exercises and your pieces.

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