When you start to play the piano it is a ver good idea to do this basic finger exercise. This exercise is very simple and yet is amazingly effective in helping to play effectively and smoothly. The idea is to get you used to using all your 5 fingers to play notes in a sequence. As a beginner, a person is not used to using certain fingers for functions like pressing keys on the piano. The exercise is akin to learning who to touch type. A person who does not touch type will rarely use all of the fingers to type.
Another very important agenda of this exercise is to get you to play rhythmically. Generally what happens is that a person cannot exercise even control over all their fingers resulting in a breaking of rhythm as the notes are played irregularly. This exercise teaches you to play the notes rhythmically and it also strengthens your finger muscles for faster and better playing for future lessons.
The exercise is simple enough.Start with your right hand. Put the thumb on the middle C. And the next 4 fingers on the subsequent white notes, D E F and G.
Now you are to play these notes one at a time. Press the C with your thumb and release it. As you realise it press the next key D with your index finger. Release that and press the next note. Do this till you reach the final note G. There should be no gap between the notes and they should not overlap either. Each note should play out clearly and evenly. Now reverse the process. Play the note G with your 5th finger and move backwards to note C. Again play evenly and without gap between the notes. You can start slowly and increase the speed of playing as you get more adept. This style of playing is called the ‘legato’ which is italian for playing smoothly.
You should keep in mind that throughout this exercise, all the fingers of the hand must rest lightly on the keyboard even when they are not playing the note. They should not be lifted clear off. The note should be pressed and released while the fingers maintain constant contact with the keyboard.
You should repeat the same exercise for the right hand. You need to shift one octave lower. Which means choose the C note that is next down the keyboard on the left of the middle C. Put your first finger which in this case will be the little finger on the C note and the rest as you did with the right hand. Play in the same fashion, taking notes up and down.
Play both hands together
And now to make it tougher. Till now you have been practising the exercise individually. You need to play both hands together now with the same numbered fingers playing the same note together I.e. Thumb of the right hand and little finger of left hand plays the note C together and so on and so forth. This will really get bend co-ordination going.
This exercise should be repeated for a few minutes every day specially before starting to practise.
It also helps increase the speed of playing the piano tremendously.