When I was a child, one of the things I found most difficult while learning to play the piano was THE LEFT HAND!
For the first 5 years of my piano journey, I was self-taught & without any guidance, playing with both hands together could get very challenging. I remember times where I would become incredibly frustrated & discouraged after making the same mistake 10 times in a row in a difficult section! I always persevered & managed to develop good hand independence over the years, but often wished it wasn’t such a bumpy ride.
As a piano teacher, it’s been a completely different experience & I love guiding students with this aspect of their playing. They also enjoy the journey instead of frequently feeling frazzled like I did in my early days. The secret is simple – we start with the absolute basics & gradually increase the level of difficulty.
A common mistake many aspiring pianists make is to start out with music that’s way too complex for beginners. I was guilty of this too – I couldn’t wait to start playing the songs I loved on the piano! Sadly, this can greatly diminish the quality of one’s music. It can also contribute to bad habits like playing with lots of tension in the hands because 100% of the person’s focus is on just getting the (very difficult) notes right.
Just like a child needs to learn how to walk before they can hike up a hill, it’s important to develop your fundamental skills at the piano before attempting arrangements with a more complex LH. I always start beginners with pieces that have a very easy LH (just a few different notes).
We continue to gradually increase the complexity of the LH each week & before we know it, in a few months each hand is comfortably playing completely different notes! The music we play in the first few months isn’t the most exciting, but it allows students to build a solid foundation so that they can play the music they love really well.
Choosing pieces at the right level of difficulty goes a long way towards your growth as a pianist. I find that the sweet spot is music that’s challenging but not completely overwhelming. Try to find pieces with new LH patterns that push you out of your comfort zone. For example if you’re used to playing pieces with block chords, try learning pieces with broken chords. I’ve found classical music to be exceptionally good for enhancing hand independence.
Of course you will encounter some challenging pieces that take you out of your comfort zone & require more time to get the LH fluent. This is a good thing & will help you grow as a pianist! Keep going & don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to play the piece fluently in one day. It takes time to become adept at a new skill, but with consistent practice you will get there & will emerge a better pianist!
Below are tutorial videos of some of a few pieces I use for piano lessons with beginners. They start at a very easy level & gradually become more complex.