For the pianist, there’s no such thing as a dominant hand. Here are some piano exercises to strengthen hand coordination and independence.
Playing piano is like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the Olympic level. When you hear a pro tear through some advanced Stravinsky or Bartók, it sounds less like a solo and more like a duet between two players. The left and right hands perform acrobatics so disparate and technical, you’d think the player had at least, by some strange mutation, sprouted a second brain. Well, in fact, that’s not far off. Along the edge of the brain’s primary motor cortex is a groove called the central sulcus. In most cases, one side of the groove is deeper, depending on whether the person is right or left handed. A study by Alan HD Watson of the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, showed that, in advanced piano players, the sides are more symmetrical. In other words, learning piano strengthens the weaker side of the central sulcus, thereby making your nondominant hand literally smarter and more independent.
OK, enough science. Let’s play. Below, you’ll find a series of exercises. (The left and right hand exercises are actually the same, but just transposed for bass and treble.) Go through the list, and mix and match each left hand exercise with each right hand exercise. Repeat ad infinitum—or, until you no longer have to think about it. Each exercise, taken alone, is pretty easy. The trouble comes with combining the conflicting rhythms without stumbling. Warning: it’s harder than it looks!